Tidying Up Mailchimp with Marie Kondo & StrategiQ

10 min read by Charles Craik 17 Jul 2019

Marie Kondo Tidy Up Mailchimp|Mailchimp Marie Kondo Tags||||Mailchimp Partner

Okay – I’m going to be honest, Marie is actually off cleaning up homes and changing lives somewhere in the L.A suburbs of California. So, instead, we at StrategiQ will be walking you through how to optimise your Mailchimp account to deliver relevant, impactful and strategic email marketing to your customers.

For those not familiar – Marie Kondo is a bestselling author and organisation consultant, and the star of her own eponymous Netflix show ‘Tidying Up with Marie Kondo’, where she sorts through other people’s messes and helps them to live more efficiently with uncluttered homes.

Marie’s cleaning methodology – The KonMari Method – became a cultural phenomenon earlier this year, with its simplicity and ability to provide positive and productive outcomes in all forms of application.

Jumping right into it – let’s breakdown Marie’s key principles of tidying up and how these rules are applicable to your Mailchimp account.

Marie Kondo’s 5 Rules of Tidying:

  1. “Tackle one thing at a time” – Data Management
  2. “Make a home for everything you own” – Contact Tags & Marge tags
  3. “Be thankful for everything you own” – Data Cleanse & Subscriber Management
  4. “Fold your clothes, don’t hang them up” – Template Quality Testing
  5. “Always keep your mind on the end goal” – Using Mailchimp for more than just newsletters


This guide isn’t about re-inventing the wheel, it’s about good house-keeping – going back to the basics to ensure that every newsletter, automated email or remarketing campaign hit their mark.

Let’s dive into this.


1. ‘Tackle one thing at a time’ – Data Management

Whether you’re a local brick-and-mortar shop with 200 subscribers or an online content publisher with 20,000, how you organise your data will determine the impact of your marketing investments and the relevance of your ads to your audience’s interests.

Here’s our recommended process on managing and updating your data:

Step 1 – Export

If you manually update your contact info, export your data from your Mailchimp list (or your main CRM if using an API) into a CSV document.

Step 2 – Sense check

Review contact information so that your customer data is up-to-date, and that you fall in-line with GDPR regulation.

Step 3 – Cleanse

Using a data-cleansing tool (i.e. NeverBounce) to remove any ‘dead’ addresses that would ‘Hard bounce’ (an unsuccessful delivery, due to server blockage, non-existing email address or closed domain name).

Step 4 – Delimit those tabs

Here’s your chance to input any relevant customer data you might have that may be useful for future campaigns. Have you separated first name and last name into two separate columns for personalisation tags? Do you have access to contact date-of-birth for a friendly birthday message and special offer? Do you know the contact’s location for exclusive offers based on where they live? Think about what you need to cater to every potential interest of your customer and remember to use a consistent format across all contacts.

Step 5 – Upload

Upload to your new master audience list, which takes us onto our next point…

Mailchimp Marie Kondo Tags


2. ‘Make a home for everything you own’ – Tags & Merge Tags

With all the data now captured, you want somewhere to safely store it for easy access and future use.

Enter – tags.

No longer do you need to send the same email to every subscriber, or balance five or six different audience lists for different groups of people!

Tags and Merge Tags allow you to quickly and easily create refined segments and groups for targeted, personalised marketing – resulting in optimal engagement.

Here’s how you might want to categorise your data into the two different types of tags:

What to save as Merge Tags (AKA personalisation tags):

  • First name
  • Last name
  • Telephone/Mobile
  • Company
  • Job title
  • Date of birth
  • Address

What to save as Tags (AKA Static Segments):

  • Customer type:
    • Premium or basic subscriber
    • Bronze, Silver, Gold member
    • Current client or prospective client
  • Gender
  • Event contact
  • Industry
  • Career interests
  • Parent
  • City/Town
  • Online shopper/In-store shopper
  • Company/brand associations
  • Product preferences
  • Account or subscription status

Mailchimp Marie Kondo


3. ‘Be thankful for everything you own’ – Data-Cleanse & Subscriber Management

It’s easy to get more than a little protective over your customer data, but losing subscribers is an inevitable fact of life, like getting old or growing nose hair.

But while losing subscribers is unavoidable, you can manage the process to make it a positive brand experience and an opportunity to improve visibility on your more engaged subscribers.

Here are our recommendations on how to clean up your list and better manage your audience’s email subscriptions:


This can be done one of two ways; manually or through an API. Which cleansing software you use will largely depend on the size of your list, how frequently you’ll want to clean it and whether you want to manually oversee this or if you want the process automated.

Our top picks would be:

Subscription Preferences:

You might be inclined to hide your ‘unsubscribe’ link in the most subtle of places in your template’s footer, but here’s a suitable alternative; give readers a clear CTA to manage their subscription preferences, and tailor the types of content they receive, and how often they receive it, to their own requirements.

Better to have someone who wants to receive your emails just a little less often, but still receive key updates, than only being given the option to stop receiving emails altogether. This may just see your average unsubscribe-rate drop.

Re-Opt-In Campaign (AKA Re-Permission email):

This may sound scary, but consider sending disengaged subscribers an email specifically offering the opportunity to update their subscription preferences, or opt-out of marketing emails completely.

This may sound contradictory with my previous point, but if a subscriber hasn’t engaged with any of your emails, special offers or re-engagement campaigns in the past six months – they’re likely not providing a lot of value to your business.

By giving them the option to temporarily pause email communications, manage their preferences or even unsubscribe, you are giving them the opportunity to exit gracefully with controlled messaging. You never know – this might just be the positive brand experience needed to win them back over.

NOTE: If you haven’t updated or managed your subscriber data since 25th of May, 2018 – and you use or store data of UK residents – under GDPR regulation a double opt-in campaign would be your suggested action to take.



4. ‘Fold your clothes, don’t hang them up’ – Template Quality Testing

Sure, I’m playing a little loose on the association with this one, but the point still stands – your template is the heart of all your email marketing efforts. Email clients see routine updates frequently, and this can mean formatting issues and bugs in the presentation and functionality of your email template.

As a standard we aim to test every one of our client’s email templates at least once a month, allowing us to tackle issues presented in specific email clients, or on particular devices or operating systems.

Using Litmus – our go-to email testing software – also allows us to check links and QA test our email templates and campaigns – meaning all email campaigns are in tip-top shape for optimal performance.



5. ‘Keep your end goal in mind’ – Mailchimp is for more than just newsletters

I get it, it can take up valuable time organising your customer data, but the results are bigger than just being able to send a better newsletter. This is about optimising your marketing funnel and adapting how you communicate with your customers to provide a personalised and unique brand experience.

Having essential data available, segmentation in place, a clean list and a quality-checked template mean you have all the fundamentals in place to start delivering marketing campaigns that resonate with your readers and delivery results for your business.


Mailchimp Partner

Email Marketing Solutions

Whether you need support delivering email marketing campaigns, creating a winning strategy, setting up automation or just some help cleaning up your MailChimp account – you’re already in the right place.

Get in touch with us today for a friendly chat.

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