10 Ways to Use Subscriber Tags to Get More Opens, Clicks and Sales with Email Marketing

Email Tags

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Quality email marketing requires quality list segmentation. Although I'm a huge believer in the idea that less is usually more, list segmenting is an exception. You should get a bit extra when it comes to your email list.

If you don't tag your email subscribers properly, you'll never truly reach your full earning potential with email marketing. You'll continually send emails to people who don't want them and miss out on sending emails to the people who do. 

If you don't tag your email subscribers properly, you'll never truly reach your full earning potential with email marketing.

Failing to properly tag your subscribers leads to unnecessary unsubscribes, lost sales, and a damaged reputation to boot

Putting proper systems into place might seem like a daunting and complex task at first, but trust me, it's well worth the time and effort upfront. That is, of course, if you really want to make email marketing work for your business. Which you do, right?

So, what are email tags?

Tags are the fundamental form of list segmentation. They're attributions assigned to specific emails on our mailing list that let us know more about who a subscriber is. 

Things like what they've purchased, what they're interested in, or what caused them to join the mailing list in the first place.

Proper tags allow us to...

  • Reduce unsubscribes
  • Reduce complaints
  • Better understand our subscribers
  • Increase click through rates
  • Increase conversion rates
  • Improve overall deliverability 
  • Improve our relationships with our subscribers

Although you can get away with poor segmentation early on in your career when your list is small, as your list begins to grow and the number of ways you collect leads diversifies, you'll be in serious trouble if you don't tag properly. 

If you haven't been tagging your subscribers, it's ok. It's not too late to start. 

So, without further ado, here are 10 of my favorite tagging strategies. 

#1 Tag Buyers

Example: 💰Bought: My Really Cool Software

Reason(1): Avoid annoying them by promoting the same product they've already purchased.

Reason (2): Follow up and get feedback or reviews. 

Reason (3): Reduce refunds by adding support follow-up automations.

Reason (4): Promote complementary products effectively.

If you sell a product, always tag your subscribers once they've purchased.

This is much more important than many people realize.

Here's why...

Have you ever received an email trying desperately to sell you something that you already bought?

It's extremely annoying. It makes you feel like the brand doesn't really care that much about you. 

Past buyers are your best future customers.

Here are some important stats you should be aware of...

This is the LAST segment of subscribers you want to ignore. We want to turn one time buyers into repeat buyers ASAP. However, during this process it's important to make sure you're sending messages to a valid email address, and that past buyers haven't changed their email.

Even worse than the mild annoyance of being resold something, have you ever received an email with a special discount offer on something you paid full price for?

That is a nightmare for email marketers.

"Hey, I paid $149 last year, I see you're doing a $50 off deal...Can you honor that and refund me the $50?"

^I used to get this type of email quite often when I wasn't properly tagging buyers.

You should be able to run promotions from time to time, but there's no need in rubbing it in the faces of people who already paid regular price. And I'm sorry, you can't go and refund everyone the difference; that's not in the spirit of promotions and would make them entirely pointless.

Here's an (made up) example of an email promoting my software EntreTimer.

ConvertKit Broadcast

Notice how I was able to target people who were interested in email marketing (more on interest based tags shortly) but had NOT purchased the software already. 

Again, this is very important. 

#2 Tag Abandoned Carts

Example: 🛒💨Abandoned Cart: My Really Cool Software

Reason: Close low hanging fruit sales.

Don't be shocked when someone leaves a sale hanging at the checkout. You might as well get used to it because the average shopping cart abandonment rate is estimated to be around a staggering 69.8%

Average Shopping Cart Abandonment Rate

There are multiple reasons why someone abandoned a purchase, and it isn't always because they don't actually want the item anymore. 

  • They might have been called away by something. 
  • They might not have had their credit card handy.
  • They might have needed to wait for pay day.
  • They might have wanted to compare a few alternatives first.
  • They might have been on a mobile device (85.6% abandoned cart rate averages) and wanted to wait until they got to desktop.

The list goes on and on. 

The long short of it is that you need to continue to sell to these potential buyers with at the very least a polite reminder email.

Abandoned cart subscribers are the epitome of hot traffic, and your conversion rates on your abandoned cart emails should be some of your highest. 

However, if you aren't tagging these folks, you aren't going to be contacting them!

Note: In order for the abandoned cart functionality to work you need to have a 2 step sales page in place. If they don't submit their email address, you won't have it (duh). I highly recommend that you consider changing all your sales funnels to 2 step order style for this reason. 

I use ThriveCart for my sales funnels, and it integrates very easily with ConvertKit, so I can add a tag whenever a cart is abandoned. 

Thrive Cart Abandoned Cart

From here, I create an automation that sends them a follow-up email reminding them to come finish their purchase. 

There are dozens of strategies for creating great abandoned cart follow ups, but here is the one I made this week for one of my products. 

ConvertKit Abandoned Cart Sequence

Oh, and don't forget to create a removal rule that tags off the abandoned cart tag once someone has purchased.

Mine looks like that. ⤴️

Abandoned carts are estimated to cost companies $18 billion dollars annually.

Minimize the amount of that lost revenue that comes from you with great tagging and follow-up and your bank account will thank you.

#3 Tag Refunds

Example: 💔Refunded: My Really Cool Software

Reason (1): So you DON'T sell them the same product .

Reason (2): So you DO sell them the same product.

Reason (3): So you can get feedback and reduce future refunds.

Reason (4): So you can sell an alternative.

Reason (5): So you can flag customers who habitually abuse refunds.

Another important yet often overlooked segmentation method is tagging people who refund your products. 

Just like with abandoned carts, this doesn't have to be the end of your relationship with a subscriber. You just need to know how to cater to them better. 

Triggering follow up automations to refunded customers can be very helpful in understanding how to improve your product or, even better, draw them back to another purchase. 

Example Refund Automation Email

Subject: Regarding your refund...

Hey [First Name],

We're sorry to see that [product refunded] didn't meet your expectations. 

Your feedback is very important to us, and we'd love to know what we could have done differently to better serve your needs. 

If you have the time, we'd love for you to take this 3 question survey (link to survey) and tell us about your experience. 

Upon completion, there is a discount code for 20% off any future purchase with us. 

Thank you!


Sending the email above via an automation would allow us to do two things.

  1. Get feedback so we can improve.
  2. Offer a coupon code to encourage the customer to come back. 

Be careful with the coupon offer. The last thing you want is word getting out that everyone who refunds can get 20% off!

Side note, this isn't an offer I'm running, so don't try it 😂

Every business is different, and this is just a broad example, but there is something that can be done with refund triggered automations for every type of business. 

#4 Tag Community Members

Example: 🌐Member: FBA Today Facebook Group

Reason: Increase your exposure without pushing social media channels to existing followers or members.

One of the goals of your email marketing should be to get subscribers to follow you on other mediums. The more exposure you have to someone, the better. 

It doesn't matter how you connect with your followers, just that you connect with them. This means we need to work to get them on the medium that they like and use the most.

If you have a way of tagging someone who is already in a community, that makes it much easier to filter them out of broadcasts that push subscribers to join it later on. 

For example, I have a large Facebook group called FBA Today. To join it, you have to provide an email address (this is secretly one of my most effective methods of list building by the way).

This means that I have a large segment of people on my email list that I know are already in the group. I tag them, so that I can try to get other subscribers to join the group without bothering existing members with unnecessary emails.

Here's a very simple example of how an email sequence could incorporate calls to action that encourage subscribers to follow you on social media or any other platform. 

Turn email subs into social followers

Once someone clicks one of the links, you should tag them as a follower (this part isn't perfect, unfortunately, since many who click won't follow through and actually subscribe or follow). 

You can then occasionally run campaigns aimed at getting those who didn't click to come and follow you. 

#5 Tag People with the Lead Magnet they Downloaded

Example: 🧲 Lead Magnet: Evening Reflections

Reason (1): Give them other unique freebies as value adds.

Reason (2): Enhanced segmentation.

One of the things that I love to do is send my new subscribers as much free value as possible. 

Typically, these are things that I also use as lead magnets elsewhere.  I have a lot of different freebies I give, and it's not possible for a subscriber to subscribe to all of them, so I use them as bonuses in my email follow-ups. 

If I know that a subscriber joined this list by downloading, for example, Lead Magnet A, I can give them Lead Magnet B as a value add in a follow-up email and vice versa.

Email Gift Follow Up

If you want to learn more about this concept of feeding your new subscribers with value right out of the gate, check out the book The Invisible Selling Machine by Ryan Deiss.

#6 Tag Competitors

Example: 👽👽Other: Competitors 👽👽

Reason: So they can't spy on you.

This one really isn't that important, and it's not like you can really keep someone from getting your emails if they really want to, but why not at least try a little if it gives you an edge?

Watching You Meme

I always recommend that people spy on the emails of their competitors to see what strategies might be working for them. If they compete directly with you though, they'd be wise to make it harder for you to see their content. 

Again, really not a big deal, but I do it 🤪

#7 Tag Subscribers Based on Interest

Example: 🤔Interest: Productivity

Reason: Send the right emails to the right subscribers at the right time.

If I made this list in order of importance, this one would have been #1.

This is the foundation of segmentation. Your interest tags can be narrow and broad, but you should always have them for every single interest your brand targets.

I typically create narrow interest tags and then organize those interests into more broad segments (ConvertKit terminology, your software's terminology might differ).

In ConvertKit, I make sure that every lead magnet or source of subscribers has a rule set up that auto-applies a tag. 

In this example, I tag the following forms (which are your opt-ins) with the tag that shows they are interested in Amazon FBA.

ConvertKit Rules

I get even more granular and break up the forms into more narrow tags for hyper-targeted broadcasting and segmentation. 

#8 Create Temporary Tags with Link Triggers

Example: 🚫 Don't Contact: Book Promotion

Reason (1): Know who you should or shouldn't contact regarding specific offers or topics.

Reason (2): Protect relationships with subscribers.

Reason (3): Respect your subscriber's inbox.

Reason (4) Know who your hottest buyers are so you can send them more additional, relevant offers than other subscribers.

ConvertKit (and most other email marketing softwares) allow you to assign tags with something called link triggers.

Here's an example of a link trigger I created recently to tag people who were interested in an affiliate product I promote called Bench book keeping

ConvertKit Link Triggers

When they click on the link, it automatically tags them with "Bench Interest."

I will now send an additional email to these subscribers, since they've shown they're more interested. After all, most sales won't happen on the first impression (see The Rule of 7).

Another great temporary tag I use is a "Don't contact me regarding" tag. These are tags that allow subscribers to tell me they don't want to hear anymore about a specific offer or topic without completely unsubscribing from my list. 

Tag to not send again

Again, this is very important because to really close sales you'll need to send more than one email. If I'm doing a large scale promotion, I always include this link trigger at the bottom of each email. 

For future broadcasts regarding that offer, I'll make sure to create a rule that excludes everyone on this specific tag. 

These tags can (and should) be deleted once you've completed a promotion and no longer need them. 

#9 Tag Subscribers for Re-Engagement

Example: ☠️DELETE ☠️

Reason: Remove inactive subscribers to protect your email reputation with major ESPs.

It's important that you delete inactive subscribers from your email list regularly.

Regularly running re-engagement campaigns to cold subscribers will help your list tremendously.

It might sound counter-intuitive, but deleting cold subscribers will actually lead to better results in the long run, since it will improve the overall deliverability of your broadcasts. 

Large providers like Gmail and Outlook take note of whether or not people open your emails. If you have a large amount of subscribers who aren't opening, the providers may start sending your emails to the junk or promotions folders to every subscriber, even the ones who actually engage with them.

Re-engagement emails

One of the great things about ConvertKit is that you can add this automation automatically and it will create the tags and framework for you. You'll just want to edit the emails that are sent out in the sequence.+

#10 Tag Your Affiliates

Example: 🤝Affiliate: Amazon Products

Reason: Boost overall sales by staying in touch with your affiliates.

Every great affiliate manager understands that you need to regularly engage with your affiliates to get them to really promote. 

ThriveCart Affiliate Connections

Tag your affiliates and keep in touch with them regularly. 

You can also get even deeper with it and add automations that trigger emails when certain rules are met.

When something like "hasn't made a sale in X# days," is triggered, you can send an automated email that reminds the affiliate of the offer and helps encourage them to promote. 

The Software I Use

As I showed in the article, I use ConvertKit for my email marketing and ThriveCart for my sales funnels. There are 100s of email marketing softwares out there, but don't let that confuse you. Every single one of them should allow you to tag subscribers (if they don't you need to run)!

These strategies will be the same no matter which you use, but the mechanics of putting them in place will vary depending on what services you're using for email and processing sales. If you're not processing sales (or are an affiliate marketer and can't track buyers effectively), you can skip tactics 1-3.

Convertkit transparent logo
ThriveCart Transparent Logo

There are times when I use a program that doesn't have a direct integration with ConvertKit. In these situations, I use a software called Zapier. 

Zapier Logo

For example, I create surveys and forms with a service called TypeForms. It's an amazing tool, but, unfortunately, it doesn't have a native integration yet with ConvertKit.

So, I use Zapier as a connection between the two programs.

If you want to see the above example in action, check out this post, enter your email and YouTube channel URL (if you have one) into the form, and then watch the follow up sequence that comes in the days after.

Think of it like 2 cans and a string and ConvertKit and TypeForm are two kids chatting with each other from 20 feet away. The string is Zapier. 

I mention Zapier and this process because it's critically important that you don't slack off when enrolling new subscribers. You can manually add tags when uploading, but if possible, you should automate the process and ensure that no subscriber goes untagged.

Ok, there you have it, the 10 tags you need to start using in your email marketing. 

Go out and make it happen!

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