The information you collect through your Mailchimp signup form is saved in an audience field and tied to a unique label, called a merge tag. Use merge tags to insert personalized or dynamic content into the emails you send.
In this article, you'll learn about merge tags and ways you can use them to customize your emails.
If you're new to Mailchimp, take a few moments to review the terminology we use to discuss audiences and merge tags.
A collection of contacts, along with their profile details, preferences, and other data.
- Audience field
A place where specific contact details are stored, like a cell in a spreadsheet.
- Merge tag
A unique, text-based identifier that corresponds to account data, such as an audience field.
- Dynamic content
The personalized or otherwise unique content that's inserted into an email by a merge tag.
Before you start
Here are some things to know before you begin this process.
- Merge tags are available to use in emails and some default forms and response emails. To see a live preview of your merge tags, toggle on the Enable live merge tag info slider in Preview Mode, or send a live email to a small test segment of your audience.
- If you have more than one Mailchimp audience, make sure you use the correct merge tags for your targeted audience.
- Merge tags are style sensitive. Check for extra bolding, italics, or other formatting around or inside your merge tags.
How merge tags work
Your Mailchimp audience contains audience fields that refer to your contact's information. Each audience field corresponds to a unique merge tag, which looks like a snippet of text wrapped in special characters: *|EXAMPLE|*. When you insert a merge tag into your email, we'll replace the tag with the content stored in the corresponding audience field.
For example, you can use the *|EMAIL|* merge tag to display each contact's email address where the merge tag was placed.
Some merge tags use URLs to link to other content, such as text or images. When you link an image in your content with a merge tag, you'll use the hyperlink tool on the editor toolbar to add the merge tag in the linked URL. When your contacts click the linked image they'll be taken to the URL the merge tag refers to, like an update profile page.
Merge tags can be used in any regular or automated email, and in the final "welcome" email in the Form Builder. Each time you send an email that uses merge tags, we'll pull the most recent data to replace the merge tag.
Types of merge tags
Mailchimp offers two types of merge tags to help you include audience and contact content: system merge tags and audience merge tags.
- System merge tags typically refer to the data in your Mailchimp account. Use system merge tags to include social sharing links, RSS content, account information, or to translate your email. You can also use system merge tags to add unsubscribe, update profile, and forward links to your emails.
- Audience merge tags refer to the information stored in your audience, including contacts. Use audience field merge tags to pull your audience data into your emails, like the signup form URL, company name associated with the audience, or contact-specific information like email address or first and last name.
Use our cheat sheet as a quick reference for available Mailchimp merge tags: All the Merge Tags Cheat Sheet.
How to use merge tags
Merge tags are one way to insert dynamic content into your emails. Type merge tags into your emails, or choose merge tags from the Merge Tags drop-down menu. You can also customize merge tags and set default values.
Type a tag
When you type a merge tag directly into your content, be sure to surround the label with the asterisk (*) and pipe (|) characters. If there's a typo in the merge tag, your contacts will see the mistyped text instead of their personalized content. You'll find the pipe key above the enter/return key on most U.S. keyboards.
Choose a tag in the toolbar
To avoid typos and syntax errors, insert a merge tag in a content block from the merge tag menu. Place your cursor where you want the merge tag to appear, and click the Merge Tags drop-down menu on the editor toolbar. Choose the merge tag you need, and that's it!
Customize default merge tags
Default audience merge tags look something like this: *|MERGE1|*. You can edit and customize these merge tags in your audience settings to give them a more descriptive name, like *|BIRTHDAY|* or *|CITY|*. Be careful when you rename your audience merge tags though, because our system uses certain reserved field names that can't be reused elsewhere.
Set default merge tag values
A merge tag works correctly only when there is data in the field it's associated with. For your most commonly used audience merge tags, be sure to input default values that will display if the contact profile doesn't have any data in a certain field.
For example, you could set the default value for the first name merge tag to "Friend." Then, when you use "Hello *|FNAME|*," in an email, contacts whose first names are not in your audience will see "Hello Friend."
If you don't set a default value and the contact doesn't have the data in their profile, they'll see a blank space where the contact-specific content was supposed to appear.
Testing and troubleshooting
You should always preview and test your merge tags before your email is sent. Here are some things to know about testing merge tags in Mailchimp.
- Merge tags connected to audience fields are contact-specific, meaning they won’t populate in a test email (even if the test email address is the email address of a contact in your audience).
- Merge tags don't preview in the Template Editor. To test these merge tags, create an email from the saved template and use our preview and test tools.
- If you use merge tags in your signup forms and response emails, sign up through your form and review how the merge tags appear in each step of the process.
- If merge tags aren't working the way you expect, check out our troubleshooting guide.