The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing Tagging

6 Aug
The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing Tagging

As an email marketer, you probably already know this:

Each contact in your email list is different.

But what if you have thousands of subscribers on your list? How do you make sure your emails are personalized and tailored to each recipient?

Here’s how:

Tags. (Cue the fanfare!)

Tagging is one of the easiest and most effective ways for email segmentation to manage growing contact lists. Using tags, you can keep your contacts organized and send highly targeted emails every single time.

In this article, we’ll help you learn:

  • What tags are and the types of tags you can create
  • The benefits of using tags in your email marketing strategy
  • How to use them in Sendlane to run your personalized email campaigns

Let’s get started!

What is email tagging?

Email tagging is labeling you can assign to contacts based on their personal characteristics or how they interact with your email content.

Unlike lists, you can add multiple tags to each contact at a time!

There are three main purposes of using tags:‍

1. Organization

Before we dive in here, let's paint a quick picture to help pull everything together.

Imagine that you are the person in charge of email for a brand called Jewela – an online jewelry store with over 10,000 email subscribers.

You want to use tags as a better capacity to help reach your email marketing goals.  As I'm sure you know, it can be difficult to sort through and organize them.

For your brand, Jewela, you can get rid of the clutter and quickly categorize your contacts based on their behavior, interests, or any other characteristics. You can do just that with simple tag contacts based on their buying preferences, like “Necklaces,” “Earrings,” and “Rings."

This will help keep contacts organized based on their purchase preferences.

2. Segmentation

Using tags, you can also create highly targeted email segments to send tailored email messages.

For Jewela, can do this by creating a segment of their audience who:

  1. Are interested in rings
  2. Haven’t opened your emails in the last 60 days

Segmenting contacts with the help of tags can be useful for sending personalized emails with a very specific purpose.

They can then send a re-engagement email that focuses on their ring collection.

3. Triggering

Another useful function of tags in email marketing is they can act as triggers in certain parts of your automation.

Here your brand can run an email automation for contacts tagged with “Earrings” to share updates regarding an upcoming earring collection launch.

In this case, the “Earrings” tag will act as a trigger for your set marketing automation.

The difference between tags and email lists

You might be wondering: Can’t I just create separate email lists to organize my contacts?

The short answer is: Yeah, but why?

Lists are great for creating collections of Contacts that you know you’ll want to send to repeatedly (such as newsletter Lists or Lists tied to a specific pop-up used to collect a Contact’s information) or for large Automations (such as abandoned cart sequences.) 

With Sendlane’s Tag functionality, you can create finely tuned collections of Contacts to make sure that each email you send goes out to exactly the right Contacts at exactly the right time. Tags are flexible and adaptable!

Let’s say that your Jewela brand uses a marketing strategy based on age. Jewela then creates three email Lists based on Contacts’ age:

  • Teenagers
  • Young adults
  • Adults aged 30+

These Lists will allow you to create content that is targeted to your defined age groups, but Tags allow you to go so much further! Maybe you want to target your content based on your Contacts’ preference for recommended products or their last purchase category. Using Tags to apply labels to Contacts based on their preferences and activity allows you to get super specific with your audience while not overwhelming you with an endless number of Lists to keep track of.

If Jewela sells necklaces, rings, and earrings, and you want to be able to target your Contacts based on their age and last purchase category without using Tags, you’re already up to at least nine Lists! Applying Tags to Contacts’ profiles lets you decide which granular Contact attributes whenever you want, without committing you to storing yet another List.

With Tags, tailored emails can be sent to:

  • Teenagers;
  • who last bought a pair of earrings;
  • and who like to see recommended products

Tags can also be used to add specific targeting to Automations!

For instance, there's the ability to add a conditional split in one of your automations to send Email A to contacts who have the tag “earrings” and Email B to contacts who have the tag "necklaces”.

You can see that sort of email in the example below from Charming Charlie.



As your business grows, so will your email list. Keeping your contacts organized with lists is possible, but can quickly get inconvenient if you want to send highly targeted emails.

The benefits of using tags in email marketing

Using tags can transform the way you send emails to your contacts.

Not only can they help you send targeted emails that go beyond basic email segmentation, but they can also tell you a lot about how your customers interact with your website and emails!

Here are a few reasons why you should start using tags right away:

1. Track the customer journey

Take advantage of automated content tagging by adding tags to certain links inside your email campaigns to help you track customer journeys.

You can tag:

  • Any text
  • Image
  • Button inside your email

As a result, when a subscriber clicks on the tagged link, the tag will automatically get added to their profile.

This can help you identify where a subscriber came from when they land on a certain page on your e-commerce business site or make a purchase!

2. Boost engagement rates

Tags let you create targeted segments and send highly personalized emails to each of your contacts.

This helps you improve your engagement rates by showing people relevant content they’re actually interested in!

The more targeted your emails are, the more likely a contact will be to engage with them.

For example, if Jewela sends emails with recommended products to contacts who are tagged with certain product types, they’ll be more likely to get a positive response! 

3. View detailed reports and insights

The coolest thing about using tags is that you can dive deeper into your insights and reports to better understand your customers.

If you're using an email marketing tool like Sendlane (try us for free if not!), when you send a Campaign to a group of your Contacts using Tags, Sendlane's powerful email reporting functionality will automatically generate a Campaign report which includes engagement metrics such as opens, clicks, website views, revenue, and more!

This can help you analyze the type of customers who engage with your emails the most, or those who need an incentive to engage!

What type of tags should you use?

There are dozens of tags you can use to segment and target your contacts. In fact, you can pick any name for your tag, as long as it makes sense for your business.

But you need to be careful when naming your tags. If you start tagging contacts randomly without a proper system in place, you might end up with hundreds of tags that are difficult to sort through and organize!

If you’re unsure where to start, here are some useful types of tags to get you started.

1. Product tags

You can tag contacts based on their buying preferences, such as the last product they purchased.

Product tags are especially useful when you're selling multiple items as they can help you send targeted emails for each product!

Going back to our jewelry store example, Jewela can use tags like “Rings,” “Earrings,” and “Necklaces” to organize contacts based on the type of product.

The next time Jewela runs an email campaign, they can match their email content with whichever product(s) the contact is more likely to be interested in!

2. Sign-up source tags

Another way to tag your contacts is by the form they used to join your email list.

Here are some common subscribe / sign-up sources that could apply to your business:

  • Newsletter signup form
  • Website checkout
  • Facebook shopping
  • Webinar registration
  • eBook download

Source tags can help you visualize your contacts’ complete journey, such as the type of content they’re interested in and the platforms they use to interact with your brand.

This helps you focus more on the platforms that perform better than others at generating leads and sales!

3. Action tags

You can also tag contacts by the type of action they take on your website or within your email!

Actions could include refund requests, new purchases, support tickets, clicks on CTAs, cart abandonment, etc.

Tagging contacts by their actions is also an effective way to learn more about them and send them emails they would like to engage with!

For Jewela you could tag contacts who recently requested a refund, and then send these people a discount on their next purchase!

4. Status tags

If you want to send targeted emails to contacts based on how engaged they are with your brand, adding status tags is a great idea!

Status tags can indicate the state of a contact in terms of engagement, activity, and other behavior. Here are some examples of status tags you can use:

  • Engaged
  • Inactive for 30 days
  • No purchase in 60 days
  • Loyal customers

Adding these tags allows you to tailor your emails to contacts with different engagement levels and loyalty to your brand.

Jewela, for example, can start a re-engagement campaign to try and engage contacts who haven’t opened their emails in the last 30 days.

They can also sort through the contacts who have been inactive for the past few months to see if any email addresses are outdated and need to be removed!

5. Interest tags

One of the simplest ways to tag your contacts is by their likes and dislikes.

Everyone wants to see content they love, and tagging contacts based on interests lets you make that happen!

Interests can vary depending on your type of business. A clever way to find out what your subscribers are interested in is to simply ask them!

Being in charge of email marketing at Jewela you can apply this knowledge by sending out an email survey to its contacts, asking what type of content they would like to see in their emails.

Would they be interested in new product updates? Discount coupons? Sale announcements?

Understanding interests helps you create better emails that drive more opens and clicks, and improve your engagement rates!

‍How to get started with tags inside Sendlane

Adding tags is super easy in Sendlane, and there are multiple ways to do so.

Tagging imported contacts

You can automatically add tags to contacts that you import from an existing list, such as third-party software or a CSV or TXT file!

In Sendlane, tagging imported contacts will add the tag to every single contact in that list. You’ll need to create separate lists to add a different tag to each one.

Tagging manually added contacts

Want to manually add tags to each contact? No problem!

You can easily tag each contact during the process of manually adding them into Sendlane. Simply add the tag into the provided Quick Add field, and you’re done.

Tagging a link

You can also tag contacts when they click on a specific link inside one of your emails!

All you need to do is add the tag when you hyperlink a text or image inside the Sendlane email builder.

This allows you to better understand how contacts engage with your emails and organize them based on the links they click.

Tagging contacts in an automation

In Sendlane, you can also add tags to your contacts based on the actions they take within an automation!

For example, Jewela can add a “New Arrivals” tag to subscribers who sign up for the new arrival updates on their website.

To learn more, check out our detailed, step-by-step guide (with screenshots!) on how to add tags in Sendlane.

Five ideas for using tags in your email campaigns

Adding tags to contacts is one thing, but using them to create effective email campaigns is a whole other story!

There are hundreds of ways you can use tags to create personalized emails!

Here are five ideas for tag-based emails you can start sending today.

1. Re-engage inactive subscribers

If you’ve tagged subscribers based on their status, such as engagement and activity levels, you can create re-engagement campaigns to wake up inactive subscribers!

Here’s an example of a re-engagement email by Aillea.

Sending a short and sweet email like the one above shows subscribers that you noticed their inactivity and cared enough to reach out.

We love how they’ve used minimal email copy, a cute image, and a compelling call-to-action that makes it look super easy to get back on track.

2. Reward loyal customers

You can also use tags to reward your most loyal and active contacts.

If you’ve added tags to contacts who have engaged consistently with your emails over the last few months or have recently made a significant purchase, you can reach out with a sweet reward to make their day!

Here’s an example of how Starbucks rewards its loyal customers.


4. Show tailored product recommendations

If you’re using product tags, a foolproof way to use these is by sending personalized product recommendations!

For example, Jewela can send jewelry recommendations to its contacts based on the last product they purchased.

Here’s an example of an email with product recommendations from Ruggable.

5. Send a welcome discount

What better way to welcome new subscribers than with an irresistible discount? Using tags, you can identify subscribers who have recently signed up and have yet to purchase. 

Warmly welcome these subscribers with a discount to send them on a shopping spree!

Here’s an example of how Tattly does it.

Send highly targeted emails and boost engagement with tags

Tagging is an incredibly helpful tool to organize growing email lists, segment contacts based on multiple factors, and send highly personalized email campaigns!

Are you using tags in your email marketing yet?

Sign up for a 14-day free trial on Sendlane and take it for a test drive!

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