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Merge Tags in Mailchimp Email Campaigns

Using Merge Tags in Mailchimp Email Campaigns- Get it Right With This Guide!

Want to wrap your head around merge tags in Mailchimp? This blog will surely help you!...

If there’s one topic that can have every email marketer out there nodding their heads in unison with an unmistakable urgency, it is the need for personalizing email campaigns. As email traffic continues to grow tremendously with every passing year, so does the currency of personalization- it helps businesses hold the attention of their customers and develop unwavering, long-term relationships with them. Understandably, then, email marketers are perpetually on the lookout for tools that make it easy for them to realize personalization. One such popular and effective tool is Mailchimp’s merge tags.

Merge tags are unique text-based identifiers that match data saved in an audience field (a site where specific contact information pertaining to your audience is stored). Chiefly used in emails, they can also be implemented in some default forms and response emails. Since merge tags are style-sensitive, you need to check for formatting around or inside them. They personalize your emails by pulling information from your list. In the process, they make your campaigns more engaging and relevant to each recipient. Mailchimp offers merge tags for all kinds of dynamic content.

This is all just, of course, scratching the surface. In the sections that are to follow, we strive to stitch together a comprehensive presentation on merge tags in Mailchimp. Eager to embark on this journey? Let’s go!

Understanding the Working of Merge Tags 

Structurally, merge tags are snippets of texts enclosed within special characters. For example: *|FNAME|*, *|ADDRESS|*, *|ARCHIVE|*, *|MC:TRANSLATE|*, *|USER:COMPANY|*, *|UNSUB|*, etc. Every audience field in Mailchimp corresponds to a unique merge tag. Upon inserting a merge tag in the email, it gets swapped with content stored in the concerned audience field (make certain to upload the information of all your contacts duly). 

For instance, if you use the *|FNAME|* merge tag, it’ll insert the first name of the contact in the email. Certain merge tags link to other content (like text or images) with the help of URLs. If you are linking an image with a merge tag, you’ll need to use the hyperlink tool (which can be spotted on the editor toolbar) to insert this merge tag in the linked URL. Subsequently, when your subscribers click on the linked image, they’ll be redirected to the URL referred to by the merge tag. Whenever you send an email containing a merge tag, it pulls the most recent data stored in the audience field. 

Types of Merge Tags In Mailchimp

There are two types of merge tags in Mailchimp.

  1. System merge tags: They refer to the data present in your Mailchimp account. Using system merge tags, you can include RSS content, social sharing links, and account information. They can also be utilized to translate emails, and to add update profile, unsubscribe, and forward links. 
  2. Audience merge tags: They refer to the information saved in your audience. With the help of audience merge tags, you can incorporate audience data such as email addresses, signup form URLs, first and last names, company names related to the audience, and the like. 

Some Commonly Used Merge Tags

Let’s take a look at some merge tags frequently used by marketers and their corresponding functions.

  • *|ARCHIVE|*- Creates a “View in browser” link that redirects subscribers to your email campaign page.
  • *|BRAND:LOGO|*- Adds a default logo placeholder. In custom-coded templates, one can use this merge tag instead of an image URL.
  • *|MC:TRANSLATE|*- Places links that enable subscribers to translate your email into different languages.
  • *|DATE:X|*- Allows you to display the date in a particular format. Swap X with your preferred format.
  • *|SURVEY|*- Generates a one-question survey containing a fixed number of responses that your subscribers can choose from.
  • *|FNAME|* and *|LNAME|*- Displays the first name and last name of the contact, respectively.
  • *|EMAIL|*- Displays the contact’s email address.
  • *|UNSUB|*- Generates an unsubscribe link in your email footer.
  • *|FORWARD|*- Adds a “Forward to a friend” link in your email, allowing subscribers to share your emails with their contacts.
  • *|TWITTER:PROFILEURL|*- Adds the URL to your Twitter/X profile in the email.

How to Use Merge Tags in Email Campaigns

  1. Create a list: At the outset, you need to ensure that you have a list with the necessary contact information.
  2. Design your campaign: You could either start a new campaign or edit an existing one.
  • Select the audience to whom you wish to send the email campaign. You’ll be able to do so under the “To:” section.
select audience
send to
  • Specify the subject line and use the appropriate merge tag to personalize it. Take a look at the screenshot below to get a clearer idea.
  • Next, select the send time and edit the email content.

3. Insert merge tags: In the campaign editor, position your cursor where you wish to insert the merge tag. Either you can merge tags directly into your emails, or select the ones you need from the Merge Tags drop-down menu. Moreover, you are also free to customize them (and define default values). To select the merge tag you want to use ( For example, *| FNAME |* for the first name ), you simply have to click the “Merge” tab.

  • Type a merge tag- While typing a merge tag directly into your email content, make sure to enclose the label within the asterisk (*) and pipe (|) characters. Be very careful about typos because then your customers will be shown that instead of the personalized content, ultimately resulting in you delivering a suboptimal user experience (Just imagine how bizarre an email will look if it starts with “Hello, FNAME|*!). 
  • Choose a merge tag in the toolbar: To steer clear of syntax and typo errors, it is best to add merge tags from the merge tag menu. On the editor toolbar, click the Merge Tags drop-down menu. Then, select the one you require.

The screenshot below belongs to a custom-coded email template editor.

custom-coded email template editor
  • Preview merge tags: Once you have added the merge tags of your choice, use the “Preview Mode” to visualize how they will appear with actual data.
preview merge tags

Click on the slider button beside “Enable live merge tag info”.

Enable live merge tag

After enabling, you will see the contact data in your email. 

contact data in your email.

Using the option that is highlighted in green below, you may check live data for all your subscribers ( contact list data ). 

Contact list data

Add the merge tag : *|CURRENT_YEAR|* in the footer. 

Add current year in footer

This is how the preview will look, subsequently.

Current year footer

For Mailchimp Email Builder, here is the editor screenshot with the Merge tag *|CURRENT_YEAR|*used in the template.

editor screenshot with the Merge tag

In the preview mode, it’d look like this:

preview mode

4. Test your campaign: To ensure that all the inserted merge tags are functioning as desired, you must send a test email to your colleagues.

Here are some things you should take into account while testing merge tags in Mailchimp.

  1. Merge tags connected to audience fields won’t populate in a test email because they are contact-specific (even when the test email address is the same as one of your contacts).
  2. Merge tags can only be tested when you create the email campaign or build an email from the template. They don’t preview in the Template Editor.
  3. While using merge tags in your response emails and signup forms, check for yourself how the merge tags appear at every stage of the process by signing up through your form.
  4. If something seems to be off with your merge tags, consider referring to this troubleshooting guide:
    1. Make sure that the syntax of your merge tags is proper. They won’t render if they aren’t bordered by the asterisk and pipe characters. 
    2. Merge tags are case-sensitive, and they are written in capital letters, so ensure not to use small letters while writing them. As mentioned earlier, to eliminate human error from the picture, the best course of action is to choose merge tags from the merge tag menu.
    3. We also discussed earlier that merge tags are style-sensitive, so you need to keep an eye out for unwanted italics, extra bolding, and other kinds of formatting slip-ups.
  5. Send or schedule: After inserting all the necessary merge tags, customizing them to your satisfaction, and testing their functionality meticulously, send your campaign or schedule it for future data.

Wrapping It Up

Merge tags make personalizing email campaigns extremely convenient, so there’s a lot to be gained by becoming fluent with them. We hope the insights shared above were able to shed a satisfactory light on the fundamentals of merge tags and instill curiosity in you to find out more about them!

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Jigyasa is a customer experience executive working in Uplers' email development department. Focused on elevating customer satisfaction, she is always eager to explore new subjects and stay true to her commitment to lifelong learning. She always strives to foster an environment that promotes a culture of curiosity and knowledge sharing.

Rohan Kar

Rohan Kar works as a Content Writer at Email Uplers, An engineering graduate, he was quick to realize that his calling lied in other pastures. When not writing, he can be found participating in elaborate movie marathons or aggressive book circle discussions.



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