Merge tags insert personalized or dynamic content from your audience into the emails you send. We recommend that you preview and test your merge tags before your campaign goes out to make sure everything works the way you expect.
In this article, you'll learn how to test and troubleshoot merge tags in your emails and signup forms.
Before you start
Here are some things to know before you begin this process.
- Make sure you're familiar with how merge tags work in Mailchimp. To learn more, check out Getting Started with Merge Tags.
- Merge tags are available for email campaigns and some default forms and response emails.
- 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).
Review your campaign content
Use Preview Mode to preview and test your email content before you send it. Preview Mode is available for all email campaigns, and allows you to Enable live merge tag info to see how they'll populate for each contact.
If you're working with the new email builder, we'll mark invalid merge tags with an exclamation point icon as you add your content. To see the total number of merge tag issues, click the Suggestions panel.
Test merge tags on signup forms
To run a test of the merge tags in your signup forms or response emails, sign up through your form and review how the merge tags appear in each step of the process. As you fill out forms and receive emails, you should see your audience field merge values appear where you added merge tags in the Form Builder. If the right information appears in those places, your merge tags are working.
Troubleshoot merge tags
Merge tags can be tricky. If you see behavior you don’t expect, consider these possibilities.
You haven't chosen an audience yet
If you haven't selected an audience in the campaign builder checklist, merge tags that reference specific audience data will display as invalid. Return to the checklist and add your recipients in the To section, then continue to design your email.
Your tags aren't formatted correctly
- Is the merge tag syntax correct?
Make sure your merge tag name is surrounded by the asterisk and pipe characters *| and |*. Square brackets that surround merge tags, like [*|FNAME|*], can also cause the merge tags to break.
- Merge tags are case sensitive.
To be read and rendered correctly by the system, tags must match exactly what appears in our merge tag cheat sheet.
- Merge tags are style sensitive.
Check for extra bolding, italics, or other formatting around or inside your merge tags. To be safe, you may want to clear styles around every merge tag you use.
You're working with a test email
Contact-specific merge tags, such as *|FNAME|*, pull field data from your audience to generate personalized content. When you send a test email, we can't replace the tags with any data because we only have the email address you provided. Instead, you’ll need to use Preview Mode with Enable live merge tag info toggled on, or send a live email to a small test segment of your audience.
You used merge tags for a different audience
Different audiences often have different merge tags, depending on whether they were customized or left default when the audience was created. If your merge tags aren’t populating, make sure they correspond to the correct audience. To learn more, check out Set Default Merge Values for an Audience.
- I only see << Test First Name >> << Test Last Name >> in Preview Mode.
This is expected. Enable live merge Info to view how your merge tags will look in a recipient's inbox.
- I can't find the Enable live merge tag info button.
Your audience may be missing important audience field data. Be sure your audience and its contacts have dynamic or default merge tag values for each merge tag you use in the campaign.
Send to a test segment
If it still seems like merge tags aren't working, try to send a test email to yourself or to a small test segment. Be sure your test email accounts have default values for each merge value in your campaign, and segment your audience to send to only these test addresses.