Create Your Mailchimp List

A critical first step to getting started with Mailchimp is setting up your list. Whether you’re starting from scratch, or bringing an existing audience into Mailchimp, your list is where you’ll store and manage all your contact data.

In this article, you'll learn how to create and organize your list.

Before You Start

Here are some things to know before you begin this process.

  • Mailchimp was intended to be used with a single list, so you shouldn’t need to create more than one.
  • You’ll organize your list with tags.
  • If you absolutely need to maintain separate lists, you can repeat this process to create them. Lists are independent of one another, so contact and list data will be siloed on a per-list basis. Contacts that appear on multiple lists will also count multiple times in your overall subscriber count, which could increase your Monthly Plan.
  • If you’re using Mailchimp’s bulk email service, make sure you're familiar with our anti-spam practices and list requirements before you begin this process.

Create a List

When you create a Mailchimp account, we generate a list for you and populate it with details you provide. Each time you create a new list, you'll be prompted to input default information like your From email address and a message to remind your contacts who you are.

To create a new list in your Mailchimp account, follow these steps.

  1. Navigate to the Lists page.
  2. Click Create List.
  3. In the box, click Create List.
  4. Type in the List details in the fields provided.
  5. Review the Contact information for this list, and edit if necessary.
  6. In the Form Settings section, choose the opt-in method for your list.

    Check the box next to Enable double opt-in to send an opt-in confirmation email when someone signs up to your list. Or, leave it unchecked to use single opt-in and add subscribers to your list right away.
  7. Enter the email address where you'd like to receive notifications about your list, and select your notifications.
  8. When you're finished, click Save.

After you create your list, you'll be able to import subscribers or set up a signup form to collect new contacts.

Organize Your New List

Now that you have a list, there are a few technical things you should know before you add contacts. No need to memorize it all right now, but just an overview of the basics can help you decide how to best manage your list.

Here are some definitions that will help you understand list structure in Mailchimp.


Your list should be your total collection of contacts, so you should only need one overall list. If you still choose to create multiple lists, be aware that lists are independent of each other. They don’t share data or contact information. For example, if is in two of your lists, we count that as two people. It’s almost always best to have a single list, and use our list organization tools to separate and manage contacts.


Tags are customizable labels for your contacts that you can use to organize your list. Create tags for sets of contacts based on data only you know about them. You can send directly to tagged contacts, or segment based on tag data.

Learn how to get started with tags.


A segment is a filter, or query, that you can apply in your account to sort your contacts based on data we have about them. You can filter your contacts based on things like location, tag data, group membership, signup source, campaign activity, and more.

Segments also let you customize your emails, ads, or webpages for the people you’ve identified. Custom content is smart marketing, and segments can help you get there.

Learn how to get started with segments.

List Fields

Also known as merge fields, list fields are where we keep your contacts’ basic information. List fields are a lot like cells in a spreadsheet. They store emails, names, birthdays, group preferences, addresses, or other information. You can use merge tags to pull list field information into email campaigns, like a first name greeting.

Learn more about list fields.


Groups are specialized list fields that correspond to fields on your signup forms. They let you ask your contacts to self-categorize with preset responses that you provide. For example, a garden shop might ask their contacts what best describes them: a gardener, landscaper, or indoor plant enthusiast. After contacts self-select their interests, you can create internal tags based on group data, or send email campaigns to a segment containing one group, a few groups, or all of them.

Learn more about list groups.

Next Steps

Now that you’ve created a list and you know the basics of list structure, it’s time to import contacts! If you don’t have contacts yet, we can help you get some. Try a signup form, a social ad, or a landing page to get people to join your list.

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