How can I use tags to keep my contacts organized?

Tags can be used to group your contacts and indicate their status. You might use tags to indicate:

  • Stage of the customer lifecycle
  • Important behaviors such as form submits
  • Product interest
  • Lead source
  • Advocates and promoters

Once you've placed tags, you can use them to:

  • Create segments for targeted email campaigns
  • Create forks in your automations so that contacts are treated differently
  • Change a contact or lead score
  • Begin or end automations
  • Create Conditional Content in your campaigns to personalize them

Tagging is an important aspect of marketing automation. Its strength is its flexibility and how quick and easy it is to either add or remove a tag. Tags can be added by automations, forms, link clicks, integrations, API calls, and manually.

Tagging's strengths can also become its weaknesses. It is so easy to create tags, that you might do it without much thought, so you end up with a lot of tags that you aren't using and have very little meaning or value. Or, you might create a tag at some point on a whim and then, months later, have absolutely no idea why you created it. Unless you are careful, tagging can become more confusing than helpful. 

Following a few simple best practices can help you maintain an organized tagging system so that your tags can be leveraged to improve your marketing automation rather than hinder it.

Tagging best practices:

Plan your tagging system:

What tags do you need and how will you use them? This is an important question to ask yourself for two reasons. First, it will prevent you from creating tags simply to create tags. As marketers, we become collector's of data but more data isn't always better. If you aren't going to use a tag, its existence only complicates things. Second, when you see the tags you're going to create, it helps you identify and define a logical structure.

For instance, you might decide that you want to tag your customer's by the category of product that they purchased so that you can upsell, crossell, and downsell post-purchase. You might decide that it is logical to have a structure like:

Customer - Camera
Customer - Lens
Customer - Storage
Customer - Accessories

Error on the side of simplicity... but be descriptive:

Some people like to use acronyms and codes in their tags because it creates a shorter, prettier tag. The downside is that tags become cryptic and difficult to decode. If you choose to do this, be sure that you use the description feature of the Tag Manager to clearly document what the tag's purpose is and what it means.

Even though your tags may become longer, it's good practice to make them as straightforward as possible. For instance, “Visited pricing page” might be a fine tag. You know exactly what it means and you'll never forget.

Prune your tags regularly:

Even with a plan, you'll probably find that your list of tags continuously expands. Make a point of regularly reviewing your tags and removing the tags that are redundant or unnecessary. The Tag Manager makes it easy to see all your tags, delete them, and merge duplicates into a single tag.

Naming conventions:

Some people use brackets:

[CUSTOMER] Camera

Some people use colons:

Customer: Camera

Or dashes:

Interest - Content - Videos

You are able to use any special character so choose whatever notation style makes the most sense to you.

Categorizing tags:

You might use a naming convention to categorize your tags. For instance, you might have a group of tags that indicates different behaviors:

[ACTION] Downloaded whitepaper
[ACTION] Clicked link
[ACTION] Opened campaign
[ACTION] Visited web page

Or, you might have tags that indicate product and content interests:

Interest - Product - Cameras
Interest - Product - Storage media
Interest - Content - Lenses
Interest - Content - How to

Applying tags:

You can apply tags immediately when links are clicked in your campaigns using the Link Actions feature.

You can apply tags within automations using the “Add tag” action.

You can apply tags when an ActiveCampaign generated form is submitted by adding a “Add tag” action to a form.

You can add tags manually to groups of contacts with the Bulk Editor or individual contacts from the Contact Record.

You can add tags via the API.

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