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What is a tag in email marketing?

In email marketing, a “tag” refers to a label or keyword assigned to individual contacts in an email list that categorizes them based on their behavior, preferences, demographic information, or any other criteria that the marketer decides is relevant to their campaign. Tags are used to segment email lists and tailor content to be more relevant and engaging for different groups within the overall list.

When a tag is applied to a contact, it does not change anything about the contact’s visible information but rather adds to the contact’s profile in the email marketing system. This allows for sophisticated segmentation without altering the contact’s basic information like email address, name, etc. For instance, if a contact clicks a link for a specific product category, a tag related to that interest can be applied automatically by the email system. Tags can be set manually by the marketer or automatically through triggers based on user actions.

Let’s say an online bookstore uses email marketing to promote books. They might use tags to segment their customers as follows:

  • A tag named “Sci-Fi Fan” could be assigned to a user who has clicked on links to science fiction books in previous newsletters.
  • A tag named “Frequent Buyer” could be applied to users who have purchased more than five times in the past year.
  • A tag such as “Newsletter_Sub_May2023” could be assigned to users who subscribed to the newsletter in May 2023.

What are the benefits of using tags in email marketing?

Utilizing tags in email marketing can provide numerous benefits, which revolve around improved targeting and personalization. Here’s an overview of these benefits:

Enhanced Personalization:

  • Tags allow you to address the individual interests and needs of subscribers by categorizing them based on their behavior and preferences, leading to emails that feel more personal and relevant.

Better Segmentation:

  • Effective segmentation is possible with tags, enabling you to divide your email list into smaller, more focused groups who share specific characteristics or behaviors.

Higher Engagement Rates:

  • Personalized and relevant emails are more likely to be opened and clicked through, leading to improved engagement metrics such as open rates and click-through rates.

Increased Conversion Rates:

  • When subscribers receive content that aligns with their interests and where they are in the customer journey, they’re more likely to take the desired action, be it a purchase, a download, or engagement with content.

Streamlined Automation:

  • Automation workflows can be triggered by tags, ensuring that subscribers receive timely follow-ups and relevant content without manual intervention, saving time and resources.

Reduced Unsubscription Rates:

  • By not bombarding subscribers with irrelevant content, tags help to decrease the likelihood that people will unsubscribe from your email list.

How do you create a tag in email marketing?

There are a few ways to create a tag in email marketing. The first way is to create a tag through the email service provider which you are using. Most email service providers will have a tagging system that allows you to create tags and track their performance.

You can also create a tag is through your email marketing software.

You can create a tag in an HTML editor. This method will require some coding knowledge, but it will give you more control over the look and feel of your tags.

What are some common uses for tags in email marketing?

Tags are commonly used in email marketing to track different aspects of the campaign. For example, you might use a tag to track who opened the email, who clicked on a link, or who made a purchase. This information can help you to gauge the effectiveness of your campaign and make necessary adjustments for the future. Tags can also be used to target specific groups of people with specific content.

For example, you might create a tag for people who have clicked on a link in a previous email and use that tag to send them a targeted follow-up email. You can even segment your list into different groups so that you can send them personalized content that is bound to generate interest and conversions. For example, you might create a tag for people who live in a certain area and send them content about events in their area.

What are the differences between tags and segments in email marketing?

Tags and segments are both crucial elements of email list management in email marketing, but they serve different functions and are used in different ways:


  • Tags are labels attached to individual contacts based on their behaviors, preferences, and interactions with your emails or website.
  • They are typically used to indicate specific actions, such as whether a contact has made a purchase, clicked on a link, or attended an event.
  • Tags are very flexible and can be added or removed from contacts based on dynamic criteria.
  • They work on a granular level, meaning a single contact can have multiple tags that paint a detailed picture of their interests and engagement.
  • Tags can trigger automated email campaigns or workflows. For instance, adding a “Downloaded E-Book” tag could automatically enroll a subscriber in a related email sequence.


  • Segments are subsets of your email list, grouped based on shared characteristics or criteria, which can include tags but also other attributes like demographics, location, or engagement level.
  • Segments are used to organize large groups of contacts for targeted campaigns rather than triggering specific actions for individual users.
  • While segments can be dynamic (updating in real-time as subscribers meet the criteria), they are generally considered as static snapshots of your audience at the time of email send-out.
  • They are typically used for sending out specific email blasts or newsletters. For example, you might send a campaign to a segment of subscribers who have “Not Purchased” in the last 6 months.
  • Segmentation often involves database queries or filters that apply a set of conditions to your entire email list to isolate a particular group.

Example of Using Tags and Segments Together: Imagine you run an online clothing store, and you’re planning a promotional campaign for winter wear:

  • You might tag a customer as “Purchased Winter Gear” if they bought items from the winter collection last year. This tag is an individual marker of behavior.
  • Then, you might create a segment of all customers who have this tag and also live in a region where winter is starting, to send them a targeted email about your new winter collection.

How can tags be used to improve email marketing results?

One of the primary uses of tags is to create a level of personalization that goes beyond just addressing a recipient by name. By tagging contacts based on their past interactions, marketers can:

  • Send tailored content: A contact with a “Recent Purchase” tag might receive a follow-up email asking for a review, whereas a contact with an “Abandoned Cart” tag could be sent a reminder or a special offer to encourage a purchase.
  • Adjust mailing frequency: Tags can help identify which subscribers engage more frequently with emails (tagged as “Engaged” or “Active”) versus those who don’t (perhaps tagged as “Inactive”). This enables the marketer to avoid overwhelming active subscribers or to re-engage inactive ones with less frequent, but more impactful emails.
  • Trigger automated campaigns: When a new tag is added to a contact, it can trigger an automated sequence of emails designed for that tag’s criteria. For example, a “New Subscriber” tag could start a welcome email series, while a “Seasonal Buyer” tag could trigger emails around specific times of the year when the subscriber is known to make purchases.
  • Personalize offers and recommendations: Using purchase history and preference tags, such as “Loves Mystery Novels” or “Summer Clothes Buyer,” marketers can send out product recommendations and offers that are tailored to the interests of the subscriber. This can enhance the relevance of the emails and improve conversion rates.

The strategic application of tags can refine the targeting of campaigns in ways that generic mass emails cannot. For instance:

  • Segmentation for testing: Marketers can use tags to segment their audience for A/B testing, sending different versions of an email to see which one performs better within a certain tagged group. This can inform future email design and content choices.
  • Event-based targeting: Tags can indicate which contacts attended specific events or webinars. Subsequent emails can reference those events, deepening the relationship by building on that shared experience.
  • Lifecycle stage: Contacts can be tagged based on their stage in the customer lifecycle, such as “Prospect,” “First-Time Buyer,” or “Loyal Customer.” Emails can then be crafted to match each stage, from educational content for prospects to loyalty rewards for repeat customers.
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