One Audience or Several? How to Organize Your Contacts to Optimize Your Marketing

6 benefits of maintaining a single audience, and when to create more

Illustration of audience of characters perched on a finger

The way you organize your contacts can make the difference between targeted, personalized marketing and a one-size-fits-all approach.

So how and when should you create new audiences in Mailchimp? It's one of the most common questions we hear from customers, along with the misconception that separate audiences should be created for contacts based on shared characteristics like where they're located or what types of products they're interested in.

In reality, your Mailchimp audience should be all-encompassing: it’s where you keep everything you know about everyone you know, so you can get a holistic understanding of the people who keep your business growing. Maintaining a single audience still allows you to send targeted messages to contacts with shared characteristics—in fact, it makes it easier. Read on to learn all the benefits of a one-audience approach (and a few exceptions to the rule).

Your Mailchimp audience is where you keep everything you know about everyone you know, so you can get a holistic understanding of the people who keep your business growing.

6 key benefits of a single audience

Having all your data in one place within Mailchimp creates a single source of truth for insights about your people, making it much easier to get an understanding of who your audience is as a whole.

This holistic view is important for your marketing for several key reasons:

  1. It helps you get a better understanding of your people. Particularly if your business is just starting out, having 1 audience helps you see a clearer picture of who you’re talking to, and who you should be talking to (it may not be what you’d expect). But seeing trends across your entire audience is helpful for businesses at any stage of growth.

  2. Targeting is more effective with all your contact data in 1 place. A single audience makes it easier to use tools like tags and segments to organize insights about subsets of contacts while still keeping an eye on your audience as a whole, and lets you use pre-built segments with confidence, knowing you’re reaching everyone who meets a particular criteria.

  3. A single audience simplifies sending. Not only does maintaining 1 audience make sending to tags and segments more effective, it also makes it a lot easier if you do want to send a message to your entire audience. Rather than replicating content across siloed audiences, just select everyone you want to send to—all in 1 send.

  4. You can keep tabs on trends—and quickly take action. Just because your business is growing doesn’t mean you need to create new audiences. Continuing to add contacts to your existing audience can help you spot changing patterns in your data at a glance—and find new ways to talk to people as your audience evolves.

  5. It helps preserve data. When you have a central location to look for details about your people, data is unlikely to get siloed or overlooked—or lost in the shuffle of moving data from one audience into another (and this is particularly important if you’re using GDPR forms to collect consent).

  6. It makes it easier to maintain your contact data as you grow. With one view of your contacts and one complete record of their engagement history, it’s easier to decide if it’s time to re-engage or archive contacts.

Just because your business is growing doesn’t mean you need to create new audiences. Adding to your existing audience can help you find new ways to talk to people as your audience evolves.

When to create a second (or third) audience

While growth in itself isn’t a good reason to create additional audiences, some businesses may notice trends as they grow that do justify a need to create more than 1 audience in Mailchimp. The most tell-tale sign is when you start to see distinctly different subsets of people you need to communicate with, with no crossover in contacts or messages you’d want to send to both.

Here are a couple of examples where separate audiences may be the best option for your business:

  • If you have a B2B and B2C side to your business. If you market to both vendors and buyers—or 2 distinctly different types of customers—through Mailchimp, it may be best to keep these audiences separate. This is particularly true if you know you’ll want to dig into reporting to understand trends and performance separately for these audiences (and not just the campaigns you send to them) over time.

  • If you communicate to both internal and external audiences. For businesses that talk to both employees and customers through Mailchimp, keeping these audiences separate may be useful to keep performance data cleaner—and make sure you never accidentally send a message with sensitive information to an external audience.

In cases like the ones described above, where you’ll never want to talk to distinctly different audiences in the same way (or where crossover in messages may actually be a liability), maintaining separate audiences can help you keep content, reporting, and insights separate across these 2 (or more) subsets of people. But in many cases, using tools like tags and segments to target within one audience is the best—and easiest—option.

Fewer audiences, more targeting

As a general rule, before you create a new audience it’s a good idea to stop and ask yourself if organizational tools like tags or segments could get the job done (and still let you maintain a single view of your audience).

Here are a few examples where targeting within a single audience is far more effective than creating new audiences:

  • Instead of creating a new audience for contacts you met at an event, use a tag to note where you met them when you upload the list of new contacts into your existing audience. You can even set up an automation to trigger based on that tag, so you can easily follow up with these contacts in a personalized way—without separating them from the rest of your audience.

  • Instead of creating separate audiences for contacts located in different cities, keep all of these contacts in one audience and use the pre-built segments on your audience dashboard to reach out to contacts based on their location—just click and go.

  • Instead of creating a new audience for all contacts that share a particular interest, use tags to note anything you need to about your contacts’ preferences. Common tags across your contacts can also be seen in your audience dashboard, so you can target these tags with campaigns in just a few clicks.

  • Instead of creating a separate audience for new contacts to welcome them or share onboarding information, use segments to target messaging based on signup date, while still keeping new contacts in the same audience as the rest of your customers. Bonus: with the audience dashboard, you can quickly reach segments of new contacts based on their sign-up source, so you can get even more targeted with your messages.

In short, keeping contact data as consolidated as possible makes it simpler to get a holistic view of your audience, makes it easier to use flexible tools like tags and segments to target messages based on insights, and ultimately sets you up for smarter growth.