Prep for your MailChimp Integration w/ Salesforce

Integrating MailChimp with Salesforce can be as easy as a download from the AppExchange and a click of a [few] buttons.

However, if you have been using MailChimp [MC] as your main email database for some time, [and may or may not have one list for every Campaign you’ve ever sent out] you can save a lot of time by cleaning up your subscribers prior to the integration. And who knows, maybe this cleanup can help you better track your Contacts in Salesforce?!

Before you get started, here are a few MC rules to live by, before even thinking about the Salesforce integration:

  • Minimize your number of MC lists – This not only keeps your MC duplicate subscriber number [and cost] down, but makes list management and delegation in your organization more clear-cut.
  • Use GROUPS! – Now that you have fewer lists, MC Groups will allow you to divide that list by subscriber interest, or [possibly more importantly] internal constituent names such as ‘Donor’, ‘Partner’, ‘Member’, while still maintaining the ability to send to the entire list.
  • Get to know your MC Segmentation Capabilities – Everyone who uses MC will have access to a few pre-built segments including Campaign Activity, Last Updated Date, Created Date and more, however if your organization has other paid add-ons it is a good idea to understand how you are able to segment your lists from MC itself, so you can begin to differentiate between what work is executed in MailChimp and what is executed in Salesforce prior to integrating.

Already lost? Click the links above for this documentation on MailChimp lingo.

Now that you have a better understanding of what to pay attention to during your clean-up, how do we actually make this happen? Note – the following activities all take place within the MailChimp platform itself. We’ll get to the Salesforce segmentation and integration work in another post.

  1. Define your Group Category  & Group Names

This is an exercise you’ll do on pen and paper before you even enter into MailChimp. You may have aspirational goals for what you want to segment on in the future – but for now, create real groups based on actual tags and activity/donation history that exists in your current data.

Groups in MailChimp were originally created to allow subscribers to sign-up for different categorical interest areas, such as ‘Food’, ‘Sports’ etc. These group “subscriptions” can be made public (or not) when someone updates their preferences. Yet for many nonprofits, who have the need to send specific content to groups of people, but generally don’t (yet) have content subscriptions, groups can be a powerful workaround to help organize contacts and give end users a quick way to distribute meaningful content to their people (like volunteers).

Think through the Group Categories and Group Names you would like to use to mark your orgs constituents. For example, a Group Category may be titled ‘Org Internal Constituents’. Group Names may consist of, Board Members, Partners, Donors etc.

Grouping your lists allows you to more easily target different constituents and eliminates the need for multiple lists. Also, if you have more than one person sending emails to your MC list, it will be very clear-cut how to send to the sub-set of your orgs constituents that are most relevant to them.

One thing to keep in mind, it is a good idea to give subscribers the option to ‘update their profile’ on every email you send them. This allows them to not only unsubscribe [and once they unsubscribe, they don’t receive emails from that list] but add or remove themselves from different groups to limit the type of emails they receive [instead of unsubscribing all together].

  1. Pick a Master List

Now that you have your Group Categories and Group Names defined on paper, pick a list to be your Master List. This can be one that you already have/use the most, or a new empty list.

  1. Setup Your New Groups into Your Master List
  • Click into your ‘Master List’
  • Under Manage subscribers, select ‘Groups’
  • Once in Groups, on the right select ‘Create Groups’
  • Here you will be given the option to make this Group Category public on your sign-up form [or not]
  • Below that you will enter your Group Category and all of the Group Names
  • Finally select ‘Save’
  1. Combine Legacy Lists

If you are like some organizations and have a new list for each Campaign you send out, you can ‘Combine lists’ from the MC list view page.

To combine an old list with your new Master List:

  • Go to the List view in MailChimp
  • Select the down arrow all the way to the right of the list you wish to get rid of [in our case we’ll call it ‘Old List’] and select Combine lists.
  • From here a box will pop up and you can select your ‘Master List’ from the drop-down menu
  • Once selected, the Groups you have created will appear
  • Select the Group you would like to move the ‘Old List’ subscribers to, type in CONFIRM [always feel free to backup all list data prior to combining lists] and voila!
  • Before deleting your ‘Old List’ from MailChimp, to double check the subscribers new home:
    • Click into your ‘Master List’
    • Under Manage subscribers, select ‘Groups’
    • Once in Groups, on the right select ‘View Groups’
    • Here you will see the XX number of subscribers that have been added to your Group

Taking the time to strategize internal breakdown of constituents into MailChimp Groups will not only organize your MailChimp list, it will set you up to easily send targeted emails AND better track these constituents in Salesforce as well.

Now that we know where our Salesforce constituents will live in MailChimp, stay tuned for a follow-up post on how to setup your integration to feed the correct Contacts into these groups and further segment based on your org’s needs.

Theresa Hall has deep skills in digital marketing and nonprofit community management that she applies to her work with all clients. She has three years of experience helping nonprofits maximize their systems through the use of Salesforce. Building on a digital marketing consulting role and international development fieldwork, Theresa most recently served as the Community Engagement Manager for the Full Circle Fund - a foundation and member-led capacity building initiative for nonprofits. She loves implementing and designing systems for scaling nonprofits and coaching leaders through the highs/lows that come with doing work you love. Theresa graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a degree in Marketing and Spanish and completed her Masters in Social Entrepreneurship from Hult International Business School . In her free time, you can find her further north camping and enjoying the crazy terrain California has to offer. Theresa is a Certified Salesforce Administrator.

Posted in Implementation Success
2 comments on “Prep for your MailChimp Integration w/ Salesforce
  1. […] Prepare for MailChimp integration with Salesforce by @theresahall22 […]


  2. […] that we have prepped for our MailChimp to Salesforce Integration  [if you haven’t, see our prep article here] let’s dive into setting up MailChimp for Salesforce and considerations for populating the groups […]


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