Part 5 – Create Groups

Last time, we added a single subscriber to your mailing list in MailChimp. Eventually, we’ll want to load in a whole list of people.

When your MailChimp list holds the email address of every prayer supporters you know, you’re likely to find you don’t always want to send every email to every single one of them. Maybe you have some emails that you send only to pastors or your financial supporters. Or maybe some supporters want weekly shorter emails while others want only monthly or quarterly summaries.

By taking one more article to think through how you will want to divide your list, we’ll save you a whole lot of work later.

MailChimp gives you two ways to divide your list: segments and groups. Each time you use a segment, MailChimp will re-examine what it knows about each subscriber to decide whether that subscriber is a member of the segment. MailChimp figures out by itself who belongs to a segment, so you can create a segment at any time. We’ll talk about segments in some later post – when we’re ready to use them.

A MailChimp group, on the other hand, describes a conclusion you want to remember individually for each prayer supporter, such as whether they are a pastor and if they are also a financial supporter. MailChimp doesn’t know these things unless you tell it, and the easiest time to tell it these things is when you add the supporter to your list. That’s why we want to understand groups before we start importing your whole list of prayer supporters into MailChimp.

Don’t get hung up on the distinction between segments and groups. In general, if you’re thinking about your subscribers, think of groups, and when you’re thinking about your emails, think of segments. When we talk about segments, I’ll show you how you can use what you know about groups to help you build your segments. For now, let’s focus on the groups.

What Kind Of Prayer Supporter Is This?

Maybe an example would be helpful. At the end of this exercise I’ll invite you to explore your own ideas, but let’s walk through creating one group for now so we can see how it’s done.

Open Prayer Supporters List

Go back to your Lists view in MailChimp, and click the title of your Prayer Supporters list.

Manage Groups For The Prayer Supporters List

With your Prayer Supporters list showing, open the “Manage Subscribers” menu and choose the “Groups” option.

Choose “Groups” from the “Manage Subscribers” menu

Create The Group

If you haven’t yet created any groups, MailChimp gives you an opportunity to learn about how groups interact with signup forms and segmentation. We’ll talk about signup forms and segmentation in later posts. If you wanted to dig into that right now, you could click one of the Learn more links within MailChimp, but let’s keep going with this exercise. Click the Create Groups button at the top of the MailChimp window.

Click the “Create Groups” button at the top.

MailChimp now asks you for some details about the group. The first section asks about how you want this group to show up on your signup form. We’re not dealing with signup forms yet. In later posts, we’ll look at ways to let prayer supporters add themselves to your lists. We’ll revisit these signup form options at that time. Until then, choose the Don’t show these groups on my signup form option.

Enter the details for the group options.
Enter the details for the group options.

We said earlier that a group describes a conclusion you want to remember for each prayer supporter. When it’s time for MailChimp to ask you about that conclusion, it uses the Group title as a header to present the choices. (You’ll see details of this presentation later in this article.) Each Group name that you define under that title becomes one of the choices – one of the possible conclusions you can reach about each supporter.

To match the screenshots in this exercise, use “This supporter is…” for the group title, and add the following choices as group names:

  • A Pastor
    The email address belongs to a church pastor.
  • A Family Member
    The email address belongs to a member of your extended family.
  • A Missions Committee
    The email address is a distribution group that represents a missions committee of a church.
  • A Financial Supporter
    This email address represents a person or group who supports your ministry financially.

You will have to click the Add Group button once to make room for the A Financial Supporter option.

Feel free to be flexible here. If you have a different way to categorize your supporters, create a set that makes sense for how you organize your list.

As you consider your options, remember that each e-mail address can belong to more than one group. For example, the pastor of a supporting church can be assigned to both A Pastor and A Financial Supporter groups. You’ll see how that works when you update your records in the next section.

When you’re done, click the “Save” button. You’ll see an announcement saying “Done! Your new groups have been added to your list.” There will be two buttons: one to let you import to that list, and another to let MailChimp know that you’re done for now. We aren’t ready yet to import, so click the Done For Now button. Right now, we need to go back and take care of any supporters you already entered.

Put A Supporter In Groups

Now that you’ve created your first group, go back and edit the details of one of your supporters.

To edit a supporter:

  1. Click Lists from the MailChimp menu to see your subscriber lists.
  2. Click the Prayer Supporters title to open the Prayer Supporters list and see its subscribers.
  3. Click the email address of one of the supporters in the list.

When you look at the details of the subscriber, you’ll see a new section under Groups subscribed to. Your This supporter is… group set shows up here now. Click the Edit button for this section to show the options.

Change the "Groups subscribed to" section
Change the “Groups subscribed to” section

Check the boxes for the groups you want to assign to this supporter, then click Save.

Put Multiple Supporters In A Group

If you have already added many supporters to your list, it can be rather tedious to edit each one individually. A more efficient way to assign several supporters to a group is from the list of subscribers. For each group, check the box next to each email address that belongs in the group. Then, from the Actions menu, choose Add to Group, and select the group to which those supporters belong.

Add multiple subscribers to a group.
Add multiple subscribers to a group.

Even this approach can be rather tedious. That’s why I wanted you to think about how you’ll be grouping your supporters before we talked about importing. It’s going to be easier to assign your supporters to groups during the import than it will be after your list is already built.

Other Ways To Group Supporters

The simple example we just walked through is only one way to group your supporters. If you really want to explore the power of grouping, MailChimp will let you create many different types of groups at the same time, and each supporter can belong to more than one group. After you are comfortable with the concepts of MailChimp groups, consider creating others like these:

  • This supporter wants…
    • Weekly Updates
    • A Monthly Summary
    • A Printable Quarterly Newsletter
  • Do I know this prayer supporter personally?
    • Yes
    • No
  • This person also follows me on…
    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • My Website
Be Careful! It is possible to go overboard with groups, and you’ll end up tracking so much information about each supporter that maintaining your list becomes troublesome. Remember – somebody will have to make a decision about each group you define, and that somebody is probably you.

Define a group only for conclusions that are likely to make a difference in the email you send to your supporters.

Take Action

Create at least one MailChimp group to reflect how you send different email to different supporters.

Share Your Wisdom

Leave a comment below to let other missionaries know how you group your list.

Share this article: