Sage CRM and best practice List management MailChimp

By Guest Blogger Jeff Richards | Sage

Sage CRM 7.3 added an integration with MailChimp which I have written about in a series of articles beginning with "Sage CRM 7.3: MailChimp, An Introduction". 

I have seen some discussion within the forums about how the integration works and I thought it would be useful to share some thoughts about the way in which the integration features reflect best practice MailChimp list management.

The integration provided in Sage CRM 7.3 allows users to:

Create Sage CRM contacts as subscribers within a single MailChimp list.
Create new targeted email marketing campaigns in Sage CRM.
Send the campaign and automatically add a communication record to the relevant records in Sage CRM
View a list of sent MailChimp campaigns in Sage CRM and gain valuable insight into the results - opens, clicks, bounces and more
Further segment lists and groups in Sage CRM based on responses for future campaigns

Why does the integration work with a single list?

MailChimp uses the idea of lists to manage contacts who are called "subscribers."

Once a list is created in MailChimp you can import and collect new subscribers directly within the MailChimp interface. You can then send email campaigns to that list.

MailChimp allows you to create as many lists as you want, so why does Sage CRM only work with one list?

Actually MailChimp advises that it is often best to manage one master list and use groups and segmenting features to target different subscribers. 

It is important to realise that within MailChimp multiple lists are mutually exclusive of one another. This is to the extent that the subscribers in each list are for all intents and purposes separate contacts; changing the subscriber email address in one will not change it in the other. Also when a campaign is sent MailChimp will automatically remove undeliverable, bounced addresses and 'unsubscribes' from the list used and these undeliverable addresses are stored for that list to prevent accidental re-sends.

Note: There isn't a way of suppressing an email address across all the different lists you may have in MailChimp. For example if you create a new list and import a set of subscribers, MailChimp can't block subscribers who bounced or unsubscribed from another list.

For this reason MailChimp advises that it is best practice for list management to add new subscribers to your current list. 

Note: Within the integration with Sage CRM and MailChimp, if a contact unsubscribes from the MailChimp List that Sage CRM uses then that 'unsubscribe' action will flow back into Sage CRM as an opt out during the overnight synchronization.

Groups and Segments

I think we need to consider what groups and segments are within MailChimp

Groups in MailChimp

This allows a subscriber in a MailChimp list to be associated with an interest or a category. Within the MailChimp subscription forms subscribers can opt-in to different Groups that you can create to provide more tailored content. But it is only a category. It is not the set of records to which the email will be sent. To send an email to a group it would have to be converted into a segment first.

Segments

A segment in MailChimp is a specific set of subscribers in your list. The segment can be reused again and again and it records which subscribes were sent the emails.

I understand the difference between a MailChimp Group and a MailChimp Segment as follows - A MailChimp group is how the subscriber can classify themselves but the segment is how they then have been targeted by the MailChimp user who has launched the campaign.

Sage CRM has its own way of classifying and creating sets of customer information within its CRM Groups feature. When these are sent to MailChimp within the integration these are created as static MailChimp segments that can’t be edited later. A CRM contact maybe end up in multiple segments within the MailChimp list.

This doesn't stop a MailChimp administrator from including those subscribers with their own segments or their own groups. MailChimp allows you to create a dynamic, editable segments that can be auto-update each time you add new subscribers to your list who fit the segment conditions. But because when a CRM group is sent to MailChimp, it is sent at a specific date and time it is created as a static segment to allow you to be sure who was included in that Campaign driven from within Sage CRM.

In Future

The integration was designed for simplicity and uses the core best practice ideas of a main List and multiple segments. But the MailChimp REST API, which is used by the integration, includes coverage of the MailChimp group feature. It would be interesting to know whether you felt that there was a need to include coverage of Groups and how you think that the integration can be enhanced.

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