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The Difference Between Events and Tags (and When to Use Them)

An illustrated teeter-totter with a circle on one end and a square on the other with a cone as the pivot point. Representational of events versus tags in Drip.

Drip is all about helping you understand your customers on a deeply personal level. Really, the order of people who should know the most about your customers goes like this:

  1. Their parents
  2. Their childhood pet
  3. Their closest, bestest friend
  4. Drip

But seriously, we’ve been creating features to help you see what your customers are doing, understand what they need, and put together a rockstar marketing campaign based on that intel. Two very big pieces to this puzzle are Events and Tags.

Both of them act as labels for your customers. Both tell you about what they have been up to. And both help you segment your list and personalize your marketing beyond the norm for big-time revenue bumps.

So what could possibly be so different about them that I needed to write this blog post?

The truth is, we noticed a lot of people using Tags while not taking full advantage of the power that is Events. You might have been using them nimbly dimbly, just sort of picking and choosing when to use one without any real reason behind the choice.

(Sort of like how I pick out food for my cats—these brown nuggets or those brown nuggets, who cares?)

Or you might have been using them with some real intention, in which case, this blog post will be a nice affirmation of your choices.

With some clarity around Events and Tags and when to use them, you’ll be able to get even more insight and personalization power out of Drip.

Let’s start at square one.

Square One: What’s a Tag?

Tags in Drip are much like tags in the physical world—stick ‘em on something to identify that thing and provide info quickly.

Like when you label a box in your basement that you’ll never look at again. Or like a tag on a new shirt that identifies the name of the shirt, the brand name, the size, the price, or anything else the maker has deemed important identifier information.

Similarly, use Tags inside Drip to identify people with bits of important information that you might want to reference at some point in your big marketing plan.

 

Look at all those tags.

All of those tags above (Cat_owner, Download_brushguide1, etc.) are pieces of information that could be useful in the future. For example, if I was looking to sell more of my Fur Monster 5000 cat brushes, I could specifically target leads who are interested in grooming, cats, and brushes with Facebook Ads and promotional emails.

Thanks to the summative power of tags, it’s easy to see what a person is interested in and what they’ve been up to. Take the person above, for instance. They show all the signs of being on the hunt for a cat brush.

What a coincidence. I think I should send them information about the Fur Monster 5000. Without Tags, I wouldn't have been able to segment my list by people who are most interested in cat brushes.

The more tags you apply to someone, the more granular you can get with your segmenting and messaging. The glory of tags is that they allow you to understand the behavior of people on a personal level in just one snapshot.

Square Two: What’s an Event?

While Events are kinda like Tags, they’re different. They’re similar in that they are also used in identifying what people are doing, and they are priceless when it comes to segmenting your audiences and sending more meaningful messages. Events, though, provide a different depth of information.

Tags are applied once and signify that someone accomplished some sort of milestone or performed an action one time, like when they became a lead or downloaded your guide to cat brushes. They don’t provide much more context than “This person did this thing one time.”

Events, on the other hand, are perfect for keeping track of things that happen more than once. Events provide frequency and temporal data for when you need to know how often someone is doing something and at what time.

HEre are just a few things customers typically do more than once and would be better tracked with Events:

  • Make a purchase

  • Visit a specific page

  • Open an email

  • Use a coupon

  • Download an ebook

Recording Events for actions like these is useful when you want to tailor marketing and reach out to people who have completed action X a specific number of times—a characteristic that would be impossible to determine using Tags on their own.

Square Three: When to Use Events vs. Tags

Just a quick recap:

  • Tags are ideal for tracking milestones and one-time actions.

  • Events are best applied to keep track of recurring actions and timestamps.

  • Use both Tags and Events for ultra-detailed segmentation and personalization.

Now, what are some sweet scenarios you could set up using these two features?

Engage with loyal customers

It’s nice to be appreciated. And nothing keeps customers loyal as much as building a personal relationship with them. This is where Events can help you identify loyal customers and recognize them for being so darn awesome.

In this case, I want to pick out frequent buyers and show some appreciation. Under “Subscribers,” I want to filter my customers by those who have purchased something from my online shop at least five times.

Wow, they must really like me!

The customers who fit this criteria will get an extra special shoutout from me, e.g., a coupon for being a valued customer, a personalized thank you, a free gift, or whatever else shows my gratitude for their loyalty.  

If I wanted to segment my list of people just by “Customers,” Tags would be an appropriate tool for that job. However, since I wanted to pinpoint those who have purchased more than once from me, I want to count on Events because of the frequency information recorded.

Re-engage with ghosting customers

It’s true, sometimes customers who used to buy from you slowly fade away. Whether they’ve opted for another store or simply aren’t in the market anymore, you might not know unless you investigate deeper through surveys and stuff. But, the power is in your hands to try and give them a nudge back in your direction.

Which customers haven't made a purchase in 200 days? I need to win them back.

In this scenario, I want to identify my customers who haven’t purchased anything in quite a while. This a scenario where both Tags and Events are useful.

Above you can see that Tags let me identify who on my list is a customer, but Events make it possible to see which customers haven’t bought anything for a while. (I picked 200 days in this example, but you can customize the time frame to whatever the tipping point from engaged to ghosting is for your company.)

This is a prime time for me to send some emails and remind disengaged customers that our shop is still wide open and waiting for them. I could even throw in a small incentive to encourage their return.

Remember, you spend a lot of time, energy, and money acquiring your customers. A tactic like this one helps prevent letting your customers go without a fight. Stop the ghosting. Keep your customers.

Effectively interact with people on their customer journey

Tags are awesome for segmenting your sprawling lists by individual actions people have taken. Know exactly who subscribed, became a lead, or made a purchase when you set up Basic Rules that instantly and automatically apply Tags to people.

 

A trigger form in Drip. Someone is becoming a lead and being tagged with Lead.

Hey, look! A Basic Rule that will automatically tag someone as a Lead when they submit a form!

But the supplemental data you track with Events can further improve how and when you talk to your customers on their individual journeys.

Nail meaningful messaging at just the right time when you use Events to trigger automations. For example, you could trigger a product promo Workflow the moment someone has visited a certain product page three times.

Or you could use Events to trigger a personalized email campaign or even add that curious shopper to a custom Facebook Audience for ads that feature the product they keep peeking at.

Events are great triggers for reaching out to customers as they keep engaging with your company and moving further down the funnel.

Below is an example of a Workflow trigger that kicks everything off when someone views any of the sunglasses for sale in my online Shopify store.

 

 

You can trigger automated Workflows with pretty much any Event you can think of since Drip lets you kickstart automations with your own Custom Events, too.

Tags have always been an effective way to start Workflows and trigger Rules when someone has reached an important milestone, but using Events as a trigger opens up a new world of marketing messaging possibilities.

Start Using Tags and Events Like a Pro

Go ahead and trigger whole marketing campaigns off of real-life behavior, like when someone buys something from you 10 times, when they visit a product page four times, if they spend $500 with you, or if they signed up for any of your online classes in the past month.

Putting people's actions under the microscope means you can keep in touch with your customers during their entire journey instead of just when they hit big milestones along the way. 

Even more free helpful stuff.

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