The Ultimate Guide to Tagging – How to Use Tags to Power Up Your Marketing

Now, assuming you’re already familiar with using email lists to segment your contacts, you might be wondering…

What’s the hype about tags? Why can’t I just stick to what works, and continue using my email lists?

Well, think of tags as lists, but on steroids. ?

These help you target your contacts on a whole new level.

Say you’re currently using an email list to reach out to a segment of your contacts who you know are your most loyal customers.

By using tags, you can further split that segment up into:

  • Loyal customers who have made a purchase in the past month
  • Loyal customers who have clicked on your promotional emails but did NOT go on to make a purchase in the past month
  • Loyal customers who haven’t clicked on your emails and haven’t made any purchases in three months

Obviously, the type of newsletter and offer that you send to these folks should be different.

For that first segment, you might want to upsell them, and recommend them products/services that they can use in conjunction with what they’ve just bought.

As for the second segment, go ahead and send them emails showcasing your most popular products – and encourage them to revisit your site and make a purchase. You can even include discounts, like a coupon code or free shipping to incentivize them even more!

Finally, pay particular attention to the last segment – the folks here might just be about to churn. We’d say pull out all the stops: hit them up with break-up emails, promo codes, and whatever else you’ve got up your sleeve. 

For those of you who want to learn what tagging is all about, you’re at the right place! 

In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the basics of tagging, including:

  • What tags are 
  • How tags are different from lists
  • How to create tags and tag contacts
  • How to use tags to segment contacts
  • Best practices when using tags and more!

Tagging is an important part of email marketing, so it’s time to figure out how to use those tags (and maximize the value that you get out of them) once and for all!

What Are Tags?

Think of tags as a tool that you can use to identify contacts within your lists. 

Basically, you’re noting down the defining or unique characteristics of your contacts, so that you can target them more effectively further down the road. 

For Sendlane users, there are several methods that you can use to set up your tags.

You can add a tag to a link within your email. Once a contact clicks on the tagged link, the system will automatically apply the tag to them.

On top of that, you can also add a tag to your automation funnels so that it auto-applies to contacts within a funnel. 

We’ll walk you through how you can tag your contacts later on in the article. For now, let’s move on to talking about the differences between tags and lists!  

How Are Tags Different From Lists? 

Tags basically allow you to segment your email lists even further, and get more granular with your targeting.

Say you run an eCommerce store selling lifestyle products, for instance. 

You might have a list of consumers who are subscribed to your newsletter, and from there, you might utilize different tags (“Home”, “Body”, “Gifts”) to differentiate your contacts.

Now, this begs the question…

Why can’t you just separate your contacts into multiple lists, instead of using tags to differentiate them?

Well, in this example, you can use multiple lists. This helps you achieve the same results.

But in certain scenarios, using tags (over lists!) can help you go one step further in segmenting and targeting your contacts.

For instance, you can use tags to identify contacts who have taken a specific action, such as opened your previous promotional email.

Now that you have this data, you can replicate the promotional email, switch out the title, and send it to all your contact minus those who opened the first email.

So, here’s how your segmenting might look:

Lists:

  • Male contacts
  • Female contacts
  • Contacts from the US 
  • Contacts outside of the US
  • Once-off customers
  • Repeat customers

Tags:

  • Home, Body, Gifts
  • Contacts who opened Email X
  • Contacts who didn’t open Email X
  • Contacts who clicked on a link in Email X
  • Contacts who didn’t click on a link in Email X

Using a combination of lists + tags allows you to get super precise with your targeting.

For instance, you can craft an email to target: 

  • Contacts outside the US, tagged with an interest in “Home” products
  • Male contacts from the US, tagged with an interested in “Gifts” products
  • Female contacts who are once-off customers, tagged with an interested in “Home” products and clicked on a link in Email X

Pretty cool, right?

How To Create Tags And Tag Contacts

Alrighty, now that you’re clear on how tags function, let’s discuss how you can set up your tags.

Don’t worry – this is super straightforward. You’ll get the hang of it in one or two tries, and then you’ll be able to do it in your sleep.

Basically, you’ll need to:

  • Create a tag
  • Tag your contacts

First things first… to create a tag in Sendlane, log onto your dashboard, navigate to the “Audience” section, then select “Tags”.  

Next, click on the pink “Add tag” button:

Then key in your tag:

…annnnnd you’re done!

Told ya it was easy ?

Alright, now that you’ve got your tag in place, you’ll want to start tagging your contacts.

For Sendlane users, we give you two different ways of tagging contacts automatically.

First, like we mentioned earlier, you can tag contacts using a link in your email. This is super useful in helping you understand your contacts’ interest and intent.

Say you send out a series of emails promoting various webinars (both paid and unpaid) to your contacts:

  • Basics Of Content Marketing (Free)
  • Beginner’s Guide to SEO (Free)
  • Crash Course to Email Marketing (Free)
  • Advanced Content Marketing Techniques (Paid)
  • How Will SEO Evolve In 2019 And Beyond? (Paid)
  • The Future Of Email Marketing (Paid)

When you tag contacts with links in each of these emails, this gives you data about who’s interested in what.

After analyzing your data and identifying patterns, you could potentially segment out:

  • Contacts with low willingness to pay (those who only view the free webinars)
  • Contacts who are experts in their field (those who view the webinars covering advanced techniques)
  • Contacts who are interested in a specific area of marketing instead of the full stack (those who view webinars on a specific topic)

Pretty cool, right?

Alright, here’s how you can tag your contacts with links:

  1. Within the email editor, add a link to your text
  2. Use the drop-down field to select an existing tag, or create a new tag to add to your link

That’s all there is to it! 

Now, schedule your campaign as per normal, and once a contact clicks on the tagged link, they’ll have the tag applied to their profile. 

If you want to tag your contacts automatically without using tagged links, the other alternative is to integrate the tagging into your Automation Funnels.

Quick aside: if you’re not familiar with Automation Funnels, these are a series of steps that you can use to trigger email campaigns to your contacts, move contacts from one list to another after a set period of time, and more.

How Do Tags Work In The Context Of Automation Funnels?

Well, these essentially allow you to differentiate between contacts based on how they enter your Automation Funnel.

On a basic level: say you’ve got Automation Funnel A set up, and this gets triggered when a new lead submits a form on your website. You can configure this such that a contact who enters this automation funnel gets tagged with “Lead”.

Pretty straightforward, right?

Now, consider this: say you’ve got Automation Funnel B set up, and this gets triggered upon two conditions – first, a contact has to view the “Pricing” page on your website, and they have to submit a form on top of that. Any contacts who enter this automation funnel gets tagged with “Lead – Viewed Pricing”.

Why differentiate between these two segments of leads?

Well, this knowledge helps you understand how far along your leads are in their Buyer’s Journey, which allows you to craft your emails to target them more effectively.

For instance, those in your “Lead” segment might’ve submitted a form, but they haven’t viewed your pricing page, so they might still be shopping around and comparing various tools/vendors. 

Bearing this in mind, you should highlight why your tool is the best of the best in your email campaigns, and get them to see the value that your tool brings to the table.

On the other hand, those in your “Lead – Viewed Pricing” segment are likely to be further along in their Buyer’s Journey — so you might want to cut straight to the chase, and discuss pricing in your emails to them.

Here, you can talk about your tool’s ROI or how much cost savings it could bring about, and encourage your contact to sign up for a product demo or free trial.

So, if you want to tag your contact when they enter a Automation Funnel, here’s what you do: 

  1. Navigate to your Automation Funnel, click the “+” and then select “Update Contact Property”
  2. Select “Add tag”
  3. Then click on the drop-down list, and select the relevant tag.

And that’s it! 

All in all, we’d recommend adding tags using Automation Funnels (instead of using the other methods), because this is by far the most flexible way of doing so. 

Using tags with conditional splits and goals

To get the most out of your tags, use them with conditional splits (also known as if/else actions) and goals. 

This might sound complex, but it’s actually pretty straightforward once you get the hang of it.

Here, you’re basically send a series of emails to your contacts, and using an if/else action (or a goal) to filter a portion of your contacts into another workflow.

Here’s an example: 

Say you’re running an eCommerce store, and you want to identify potential brand advocates from your existing pool of customers. 

To do this, you come up with a User Generated Content (UGC) campaign that allows customers to get 10% off their next purchase if they post a selfie and a product review on Instagram, complete with your branded hashtags.

Now, when you email your contacts to let them know about this campaign, you can set up your campaign such that you add a tag labelled “Potential brand advocates” to contacts who click through to your campaign landing page.

You can either wait to reach out to these folks at a later date, or configure your campaign such that new contacts who are tagged with “Potential brand advocates” are immediately taken down a separate funnel. 

So that’s how you might use tags together with if/else actions. As for goals, these work pretty similarly as well.

For instance, say you own a SaaS tool, and you want to move all new customers into an “Upsell” automation funnel the moment they purchase from you.

To do this, set up your workflow to automatically tag contacts with “Upsell” when a purchase goal is met, and use this tag to trigger a funnel that upsells your customers.

How’s that for smart targeting? 😉 

How To Use Tags To Segment Contacts

Need some inspiration on how to segment your contacts using tags?

Here’s a handy list to get you started:

  • Gender
  • Interests
  • Location
  • Engagement
  • Referring channel
  • Events attended
  • Lead magnets downloaded

Assuming that you work for a marketing agency: 

Interests – segment out contacts who are interested in your SEO vs content marketing vs PPC services.

Location – segment out contact from different countries to increase the relevance of your email content (if you were to send an email newsletter referencing the 4th of July, for instance, this might not make sense to contacts outside of the US). For this, you’ll want to collect location information with your custom fields!

Engagement – segment out contacts with low engagement, so that you can hit them up with re-engagement emails. 

Referring channel – segment out contacts based on their referring channel, so that you can better customize email content (if someone contacts via a button on your blog, you’d assume that they’ve seen your blog content, and you wouldn’t want to re-send those articles to them. But if someone subscribes via a Facebook Lead Ad, then they might not have seen your blog articles – go ahead and link them up with your most popular pieces!) 

Events attended – segment out contacts based on what conferences/talks/events you met them at. Again, helps to increase the relevance of your email content. 

Lead magnets download – Like “Interests”, this helps you figure out what topics your contacts are partial towards, but since they’ve acted on their interest and downloaded a lead magnet from your website, this also means that they’re more invested in your product/service than the average visitor who chances on your site. 

If you’re in the eCommerce industry:

Gender – segment out male vs female contact.

Interests – segment out contacts who are interested in different categories of products.

Location – segment out contacts from different countries to increase the relevance of your email content. For your contacts in Canada, for instance, you could run a Canada Day sale with a special promo code.

Engagement – segment out contacts with low engagement, so that you can hit them up with break-up emails.

We could go on, but you get the picture!  

Tagging Contacts – Best Practices To Keep In Mind

Okay, so you’re now well-acquainted with how to utilize tags on Sendlane.

Next up, let’s venture into the more advanced stuff… such as the best practices to keep in mind when you’re tagging contacts!

Planning your tags

When it comes to tagging, most marketers tend to wing it.

They start creating an email campaign, then they realize that they need a new tag – so they create one on the spot.

Now, we’re not huge fans of this approach, because when you do this, chances are that you’ll end up with a tagging system that’s messy, disorganized, or just doesn’t make sense.

For instance, say you want to segment out the folks who have joined your list in order to get access to your lead magnet (an ebook).

You might create a tag for everyone who’s downloaded your ebook – then after further thought, decide that you want to further categorize your contacts according to the referring channel that drove them to your download page.

This means that the first tag you created is now obsolete. If you remember that this isn’t the right tag, and steer clear from it, that’s fine…

But if you forget, you might mistakenly trigger an email campaign to the wrong tag, and this will muck up your overall strategy.

Bottom line? Make sure you plan out your tags – this way, you won’t create any unnecessary tags that will complicate your campaigns! 

Naming structure

Running in the same vein of keeping things organized, it’s good to optimize the way you name your tags. 

Personally, we like to make our tags as self-explanatory as possible.

For example, “Loyal Customers 2018” is much better than “GB Loyal 2018”.

Think about it – if you name your tag something like “GB Loyal 2018”, you’ll be stuck explaining what this tag means to every new marketer who joins your team, moving forward.

On top of that, it’s also good to be detailed when naming your tags.

If your tags are named:

  • New Leads_01
  • New Leads_02
  • New Leads_03

You can bet that you (or someone else from your team!) will get confused a few months down the road. 

Instead, label your tags “New Leads – (Month, Year)” for more clarity. 

Last but not least, we like to stick with a consistent naming structure, just so all our data is as neat as possible.

Like this:

  • Leads – Facebook – US – Jan 2019
  • Leads – Google Ads – US – Jan 2019
  • Leads – Bing Ads – Canada – Feb 2019

Compare that with an inconsistent naming structure, where things can get confusing quickly:

  • Facebook Leads (Jan 2019) US
  • US leads from Google // Feb 2019
  • Bing ads leads 2019 Jan (United States) 

Makes a world of difference, huh? 

A Final Word on Tagging to Segment Your Contacts

Want to know the secret to crafting highly effective marketing campaigns?

We’ve got one word for you: relevancy.

If your email content is relevant to your contacts, you’ll enjoy:

  • Higher open rates
  • Higher click through rates
  • Higher conversion rates

Which will in turn lead to more revenue being generated.

If your email content is irrelevant, on the other hand, then you can expect to get a bunch of Unsubscribes. (If your contacts start flagging you as spam, this might also endanger your Sender Reputation).

So, while many email marketers obsess about coming up with the perfect subject line, we really should be going a few steps back and focusing on our tagging and segmenting.

Think of it this way…

If you’re sending an email newsletter to thousands of contacts from all walks of life, it’s pretty much impossible to come up with a subject line that will, universally, appeal to everyone.

But if you’re sending a campaign to a smaller segment of contacts who have a particular thing (or a few things!) in common, it’s much easier to come up with a subject line that resonates with your audience.

And that, friends, is the power of tagging and segmenting! 😉

[the_ad_group id=”220″]

Kristen Dahlberg

Content ManagerSendlane
As a member of the Sendlane content marketing team, Kristen focuses on everything from organization to content curation and process improvement. She enjoys variety and the challenge of learning the best way to accomplish each new goal.

Outside of work, Kristen spends as much time as possible at the beach, soaking up the San Diego sunshine!