3 Email List Segmentation Essentials: Tags, Custom Fields and Events

One of the best things about marketing automation is the ability to use the information you know about your leads to do things like segment users and customize email content.

But if you aren’t able to find that information when you need it, or it’s in the wrong form to be used in your context, you’re collecting it for nothing. The value of your marketing automation system depends on both what information you collect about users and how you store that information.

Once you understand the best ways to store customer information, you can call up the information you need, when you need it.

In this post, I’m going to break down three ways store to information about your leads for list segmentation and message personalization: tags, custom fields, and events.

To follow along, open a free Drip account and get started building your marketing automation system right away:


Click Here to Get Started with Drip for Free


Tags represent pieces of data that act like a label, which you can use to sort subscribers into groups. You can automatically apply tags based on actions users have taken.

They also come in handy when you want to get a look at what customers have done at a glance. You can see tags under a subscriber’s email when you’re looking at their profile. This can give you a sense of that particular subscriber’s interests and needs.

In this example, I tagged this subscriber after they did things like download a lead magnet and purchase my course

Looking at these tags, I can tell that this subscriber is probably a photographer looking to start a business. I can then use this information to target them when marketing a course for entrepreneurs in the photography field.

Tags can also show you what all of your subscribers are doing on a larger account level. You can look at your tag report to see which tags are most popular (which might show you which of your content upgrades are most popular) or how many subscribers get your newsletter weekly versus monthly.

You can also see the unsubscribe rates. This information can help identify which campaigns are missing the mark with your target audiences and leading them to unsubscribe.

These reports are helpful for showing what your subscribers are up to, but ultimately, tags are helpful for sorting your leads, in order to send them more targeted emails.

For instance, you might want to email everyone tagged as a customer. Just create a segment with the condition that the tags include “customer.”

If you want to send the same email to everyone, though, you can also filter content within an email based on tags. For example, you could send an update email to all customers, but use Liquid to filter the content they see based on which products they are tagged with.

In this case, customers will only see the information relevant to the product they purchased.

This is why it’s helpful to include actions that apply a tag in workflows for new customers and lead magnet downloads. Tags don’t affect each other, so you can add as many tags as you like to a subscriber and all of the other tags remain intact. If you want to remove your lead tag when someone becomes a customer, you’d need to create a rule to do that.

Custom Fields

Custom fields share a lot of basic functions with tags, but instead of just labeling your subscriber, a custom field is an identifier and value pair that shows data unique to each person on your list. The best example is something like names: first_name is the identifier, and “Darcy” is the value.

A custom field operates like a name tag. The physical name tag is the same for everyone at the party, but when someone arrives and writes their name on the tag, they customize it and tell you what to call them. When you update a custom field, the name of the custom field stays the same, but the content changes for each subscriber.

Unlike tags, custom fields overwrite previous information when they’re updated. If a lead updates their company name, for instance, the old company name will no longer be stored in that custom field.

Custom fields are best used if you want to dynamically insert data into an email and personalize email content. For instance, if you want to start every email with a subscriber’s name, you can use Liquid again to pull out the subscriber’s name and insert it into your email.

This Liquid code will insert the subscriber’s first name if they have entered one in Drip. (This is helpful if you don’t have a first name for every subscriber, so you can avoid sending the dreaded “Hello first name” email mistake.)

Custom fields let you segment your users based on data they’ve submitted instead of just on actions they’ve taken. For instance, it may be useful for you to collect information about company size if you work with other businesses. Create a custom field for company size and include it on your intake survey. Later, you can send an email only to companies with few employees.




Events keep track of the date a lead performed a certain action and how many times they did it.

For instance, this is what it looks like when Drip records an event after a subscriber submits a landing page.

Drip records a different event every time someone submits a landing page. So, if you want to figure out how many of your users have downloaded more than a couple lead magnets, you could filter based on the event like this:

You can also use events to target subscribers based on when they took an action. This means you can filter not just on if someone is a customer, like you can with tags, but also based on when they became a customer. If you want to create a segment of customers who made a purchase recently, it’s easy to do in Drip.

If you have any integration sending information to Drip, the typical model is that it records an event through Drip. The information each integration sends to Drip will vary, but this is an example of what information sent from link Interact, a quiz-building software, looks like:

Since this information comes through as an event, you can use it to segment based on timing, and you can also utilize the information contained within the event as well. For instance, you can tag users if you want to categorize them on how they answered a question in a quiz, what coupon code they used when purchasing, or other information contained in an event.

Now you’re equipped to segment and manage your email list in three powerful ways.

  • With tags, for information that labels your subscriber based on an action they’ve taken.
  • With custom fields, for information that is unique to each subscriber in a name and value pair.
  • With events, for information that records a timestamp when a subscriber took a certain action.

If you’re ready to get started with segmenting subscribers and personalizing emails based on the information you have about your subscribers, click here to get started with Drip for free:

Click Here to Get Started with Drip for Free

Still have questions about how and when to use tags, custom fields and events? Ask away in the comments and the team and I will jump in to help you.