Creating MailChimp Audiences & Importing Contacts

Whether you are starting from nothing or importing existing contacts into Mailchimp, your audience is where you will store and manage all your contact data. Your Mailchimp audience is where you collect and manage subscribed, unsubscribed and non-subscribed contacts. Audience member types are:

  • Subscribed contact. A person who has opted in to receive your marketing emails.
  • Unsubscribed contact. A person who opted in to receive your marketing emails but later opted out.
  • Non-subscribed contact. A person who has interacted with your online store but has never opted in to receive your marketing emails.

Audience Best practices

Use a primary audience

Rather than using multiple audiences, you should use one audience organised with tags, groups or segments. One audience is easier to manage and keep healthy. All the audiences in your MailChimp account are treated separately and billing is based on the total contacts in all your audiences (excluding archived and cleaned contacts).

Maintain proper permission

If you have subscribers you have not regularly engaged with, you may want to reconfirm your contacts to ensure they are still interested your marketing email. This will reduce bounced emails and abuse complaints.

Re-engage or unsubscribe inactive subscribers

We recommend periodically re-engaging inactive subscribed contacts to confirm their interest in your marketing messages. If these subscribers do not respond to your re-engagement email, it is best to unsubscribe them.

Allow contacts to update their preferences

Include an update your preferences link in your emails so your recipients can update their personal information and subscription preferences.

Use Double Opt-in

You can use a single or double opt-in method for your email marketing. Double opt-in requires subscribers to confirm their email signup before being added to your audience as subscribed contacts. Double opt-in can help ensure your subscribed contacts are interested in your business and keep invalid email addresses from your audience.

Creating an audience

When you create a MailChimp account, they will automatically create an audience.

Your audience is your collection of contacts, so you should only need one audience. If you still choose to create another audience, be aware that audiences do not share contact data. For example, if is in two of your audiences, we count that as two contacts. Having a single audience and using audience organisation tools to separate and manage contacts is almost always best.

Importing contacts

There are three ways to import contacts into MailChimp:

  1. Add subscribers manually, one by one
  2. Import from another service, e.g. Shopify, Zapier
  3. Upload from a properly formatted file.
  4. Cut and paste from a file. This requires the same fields as file upload.

Unless you only create a few contacts, importing in bulk will be much quicker, i.e., options 2, 3, and 4.

The import file can be a CSV or tab-delimited text file. The only required field is the email address, though including at least the first and last name is also recommended. Check this is properly formatted. For example:

  • Spaces in the email address
  • Missing @ symbol – every email should have one
  • No Top level Domain name (TLD)
  • Special characters e.g. % ^ and international can cause issues

Other fields which can be imported include birthdays, telephone number and addresses.

An example upload CSV file can be found here. The file can be uploaded or pasted into MailChimp.

Consult the MailChimp import guidelines for full formatting details:

Audience Dashboard

The audience dashboard provides you with clickable data to help you understand your contacts and how to communicate to them. You will see recent growth trends, top tags, locations, and how frequently contacts open and click your emails.

You can click on almost any information on the audience dashboard to take action on it and create a campaign.

Recent growth

This section gives you an overview of your audience growth over the last 30 days. It also shows you which contact collection methods have grown your audience the most.


The Tags section lists the 5 most commonly used tags with the number of contacts for each. This highlights trends in your audience

Customer lifetime value and purchase likelihood

You will see the Customer Lifetime Value and Likelihood to Purchase Again sections if you have enough data from your connected store. MailChimp uses data science to predict the behaviour of your store customers: low, moderate, or high.

Predicted demographics

Predicted Demographics shows the estimated gender and age range of your audience.

Email marketing engagement

Email marketing engagement highlights how often contacts opened and clicked your emails. These numbers are updated each time marketing emails are sent.

Top locations

The Top Locations section shows the cities with the most activity from your subscribed contacts.

Audience settings

Each audience in your account has settings you can change or edit. These settings include the audience name, default email campaign info, subscription settings and subscription notifications.

Audience name and defaults

This is where the following options are set:

  • Audience name. Choose something sensible!
  • Double opt-in settings. Send contacts and opt-in confirmation when they subscribe to your audience.
  • Enable ReCAPTURA. This helps prevent spambots from adding emails to your audience.
  • Default from name
  • Default Email address
  • Send a welcome email. Send people a welcome email when they opt-in to your list. This can be edited in the audience forms designer.

Publicity settings

When subscribers click the view in browser archive link in your email, we will display the archived version of your campaign in their browser, along with a toolbar that lets them view past campaigns and share your emails on social networks.

Audience Inbox

The Mailchimp Inbox allows you to view and reply to emails from your contacts.

Getting MailChimp to manage replies

To route email campaign and automation responses to your Inbox, follow these steps.

  1. Click audience, then Inbox.
  2. From the Sources menu, click Manage.
  3. From Manage Campaigns & Automation Replies tile, click Add.

Email Inbox messages

Mailchimp uses an uneditable reply-to email address to tracks emails, surveys, contact forms or direct message replies. This address will be shown to recipients as a random series of characters followed by

SMS Inbox messages

Before managing SMS Inbox messages, you must create an SMS Marketing program and get approved.

If a contact replies to your SMS message, they will see the phone number that you received when you set up your SMS Marketing program.

Opt out footer

The opt-out footer is an unsubscribe link for 1-to-1 email messages sent from your Mailchimp Inbox. If your contact clicks the opt-out link in your email, you can no longer send them 1-to-1 messages from your Mailchimp Inbox.

Managing Your MailChimp Audience


Tags are labels you create to organise your contacts. Tagging lets you structure your contacts and label them based on data you know about them. Tags are highly customisable, so you can create and assign them as you see fit.

You can create and add tags from:

  • Contact table
  • Contact’s profile
  • Tags page in your audience

If you create a landing page with a signup form, you can tag contacts who sign up through that page. You can also import contacts and add a tag to your entire import or a tag when you add a single subscriber.

View or filter by tags

Tags you have added to contacts display on the overall contact table.

You can also view the tags assigned to each contact on their profile page.

After you have added tags to contacts, you can filter your contact table by tags. Click the Filter by Tags drop-down menu, choose the tag name you want to filter by or search for a tag.


Groups are used to sort subscribed contacts based on their interests and preferences. Groups function like categories and are an good way to manage a large number of contacts in a single Mailchimp audience. Groups can form the basis for building audience segments for sending to targeted audiences.

After you create an audience group, you can either add subscribed contacts to groups manually or ask them to choose their groups by showing group options on your signup form, updating profile form


A segment is a way to create target audiences based on shared data. You can build a segment of your contacts based on location, tag data, group members, signup source, email activity, and more. Send customised emails, SMS, ads, or webpages to just the contacts in a segment. Custom content is smart marketing, and segments can help you get there.

When you create a segment, you will set conditions to filter contacts based on the information available to your audience. Each segment can be defined by up to five conditions. Depending on the segment’s logic and/or, only one or all conditions must be met.

For example, if you want to encourage newly subscribed contacts to visit your site, create a two-condition segment of contacts who signed up in the last 30 days but have not yet made a purchase.

After you have built a segment, you can target it with a campaign.

MailChimp provides several popular segments to get you started if you are new to segments.



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