Email tags

Rob Woodgate
Rob Woodgate is a writer and IT consultant with nearly 20 years of experience across the private and public sectors. He’s also worked as a trainer, technical support person, delivery manager, system administrator, and in other roles that involve getting people and technology to work together.
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How (and Why) to Tag Your Messages

The single biggest benefit of using tags instead of folders is that you’re not forced to pigeonhole an email into just one folder. With tagging, you no longer have to decide if that mail about a vendor issue on a client project goes in the vendor folder, client folder, project folder, or lessons learned folder. You just add the appropriate tags to the email, and then you can easily find it again, whether you want to find emails related to that vendor, client, or so on.

If you’re moving from a folder-based system to a single archive, tagging is the key to being able to find things afterward. You can tag in bulk, so if you have a folder for a client, you can tag every item in there with the name of that client before moving it into your archive. This way, you can be sure it’s easy to find again.

Categorizing in Outlook

In Outlook, tagging is called “categorizing.” You can create as many categories as you want, assign them colors, and then apply them to anything in Outlook—emails, calendar events, tasks, notes, and even contacts. This not only makes it easy to search but also highlights your Outlook contents with a color. For example, if you create a category for a project and give it a specific color—let’s say purple—you can tag every related item with that category. Without reading anything, you’ll know that every purple email, calendar event, task, note, or contact is associated with that project. Categories haven’t come to the Outlook mobile app yet, so you’ll have to do your categorizing in the client or the web app.

When categorizing your mail, you can categorize everything in a single folder by selecting all the email (using the Ctrl+A keyboard shortcut), and then selecting your category—or categories—of choice. You can even change your Archive folder view so that it groups mail by categories, which will mimic a folder structure. Then you get the benefit of tagging and the benefit of a folder view.

Labeling in Gmail

In Gmail, tagging is called “labeling,” and it works in both the web and mobile apps. Like in Outlook, you can create as many labels as you want (sort of—there’s a limit of 5,000, after which Google says you might experience performance problems, but few people ever do) and assign them colors. You can also create filters to label emails automatically based on whatever criteria you want.

Flagging in Apple Mail

Tagging in Apple Mail is known as “flagging.” Unlike in Outlook, you are limited to the existing seven flags, so there’s no getting away from it: Apple hasn’t done very well here. However, in their defense, they do push Smart Folders hard. Although those aren’t as simple or quick as tags, there is a system for you to use to group your email. We’ve covered Smart folders, and we know they work, but of the three email applications we’re covering here, Apple Mail is the least-suited to a single archive method.

Let’s Get Searching

Whether you’re using an email client (like Microsoft Outlook or Apple Mail), a web interface (like Gmail or Yahoo! Mail), or a mail app on your phone, search is your friend. Most of the time, a name or tag (or a combination of the two) will be enough to find what you’re looking for. You could search “Joe BBQ,” for example, to find that email from Joe about the barbecue he’s having next week, or “Project Alpha” to find all emails tagged with “Project Alpha.” But there are plenty of advanced—and easy—search techniques to help you find those emails buried a bit deeper in the pile of similar results.

Using Outlook Search

Outlook’s search capabilities used to be a bit sketchy, but those days are gone. Now, searching in the Outlook client, web interface, or mobile app is blazingly quick and accurate. The client contains the most powerful search tools, though, so that’s the place to go if you have a particularly refined or complex search query.

The Outlook Search box

We’ve covered how to change the search locations from the current folder to other areas of Outlook before. You can also quickly find messages related to the current sender by right-clicking on the message in your inbox, selecting “Find Related,” and then “Messages in this Conversation” or “Messages from Sender.”

The'Find Related' menu option, with'Messages from Sender' highlighted

If you perform the same search regularly, you can create custom dynamic search folders to perform the same search each time you open them. These are particularly useful for finding new emails with specific keywords or particular properties, like size, attachments, or categories.

The'Advanced Find' menu option

The'Advanced Find' panel.

Use the More Choices and Advanced tabs to access additional criteria. The Advanced Find options are extraordinarily large, using properties you almost certainly didn’t know existed. For example, here’s a look at the Advanced > All Mail Fields that you can choose from.

The'All Mail fields' options, of which there are many.

Using Gmail Search

Unsurprisingly, Gmail’s search is fast and accurate in both the web interface and mobile app. There are a ton of keywords you can search against, like “from,” “to,” “newer_than,” “older_than,” “label,” and so on. Rather than requiring you to remember all of these, the web interface provides a dropdown filter, which we’ve covered in-depth before.

In mobile, you can enter your search term in the Search box in the same way, but, at the time of writing, the filter dropdown isn’t available. You can still go to and open your mail there if you need advanced searching on the go. There’s a full list of Gmail search operators, all of which work in both the web interface and the mobile app. If you can master these, you’ll be a Gmail boss in no time.

Using Apple Mail Search

Apple Mail doesn’t have the same Advanced Find capability that Outlook does, but it does have one significant advantage—you can search for emails using Spotlight. If you’re a Spotlight user (and you should be), you can search for mail directly from there. You can also set up smart mailboxes, which are a bit like Outlook’s dynamic search folders.

Between tagging and searching, you should be able to locate most messages pretty quickly in any mail app. Outlook probably has the most effective tagging because it covers any item, not just mail, and Gmail’s search is second-to-none. Apple Mail can’t necessarily compete with either of these, but while its tagging isn’t great, the searching and automatic filtering are pretty good.

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Rob Woodgate
Rob Woodgate is a writer and IT consultant with nearly 20 years of experience across the private and public sectors. He”s also worked as a trainer, technical support person, delivery manager, system administrator, and in other roles that involve getting people and technology to work together.
Read Full Bio »

Dynamic Tags to Use in Your Email Sends

Personal Information

Chances are you”ve received at least one marketing email from a company in which your first name was used in the body of the email. While this isn”t exactly the most innovative use of dynamic tags anymore, it”s almost expected these days. Maybe it”s just the marketer in me, but if I get an email that addresses me as “Hi there,” I”m pretty much guaranteed to send it to my trash bin. Pulling recipients” personal information into your email shows them you took the time to craft an email that is meant specifically for them. Here are several examples of types of personal information you can pull into your emails with dynamic tags. For example, if you owned a chain of restaurants, you could segment your send by location and send a targeted email that said something like, “Here are some specials we”re offering at the restaurants near your hometown in [city].”

Company Information

If you’re B2B company, there’s a good chance you’re already collecting some company information from your leads to help you qualify them. Why not use some of this intelligence to personalize your email messages ? For example, if you sold industrial coffee machines and your ideal customers were businesses across various industries, you could say in your email, “We know how stressful it can be in the [industryname] industry. Are your employees getting the caffeine they need to handle it?” Here are some other types of company information you could pull in through dynamic tags:

Social Media Information

If you have a particularly social media-savvy audience and know some of their social media account information, you could personalize your emails this way, too. For example, say you were running a social media campaign and you wanted to target Twitter users with large follower counts, considering they have the biggest reach. You could include something like, "Hi [twitterusername], We’re hosting a contest for some of our most social-savvy email subscribers. Because you have [followercount] Twitter followers, you’re eligible to participate!" Below are a few examples of types of social media information you can use in your dynamic tags:


If your marketing database is hooked up to a CRM system , you’re likely collecting some juicy tidbits of information about your contacts’ behaviors and activity on your website. Use it to your advantage by mentioning their behavior and offering something that complements that activity. For example, you could say, "We’re so glad you signed up for our free trial on [trialstartdate]. Here’s a free guide to help you make the most of your free tools throughout the duration of your trial." Here are some other behavioral-focused types of dynamic tags.


Do you ask for or collect any industry or business-specific information on your forms that you could use to personalize your email sends? For example, at HubSpot, we have a free tool called Marketing Grader , so we collect users’ individual Marketing Grades when they run a report. Therefore, we could incorporate users’ grades into an email send to all Marketing Grader users, which might look something like this: "We noticed your Marketing Grade of [marketinggrade] could use some improvement. Here are our top 5 ebooks on inbound marketing to help you give it a boost!" Here are some other hypothetical examples of types of dynamic tags a business could leverage (remember our ice cream example?):

A Word of Caution About Dynamic Tags

Before you go crazy with dynamic tags, it’s important to remember that their use needs to go hand in hand with segmentation , especially when you’re using tags that pull information not all your contacts will have. There’s nothing worse than an email with broken dynamic tags, and dynamic tags are guaranteed to break if your marketing database doesn’t have the information they require for the contacts you’re emailing.

In order to use dynamic tags effectively, make sure you segment your list to include only contacts for which you have that dynamic tag’s information. In other words, if you’re pulling in your contacts’ favorite ice cream flavor, make sure you only email the contacts in your database who have provided you with that information. (Tip for HubSpot customers: Be sure to set default values for your dynamic tags to pull in canned information for anyone who slips through the cracks! You can set these up in your Personalization Settings.)

Understand Email Tagging: The First Step to Segmenting Your Audience

A tag is a label composed of a few words to help organize and classify your contacts. Think of tags as virtual sticky notes about a specific subscriber that tells you more about their interests, likes, and behaviors.

Email marketing tags can be added automatically when a person takes action on your website, or interacts with your email, sign up form, or landing page. You can apply specific tags (or labels) to each of your subscribers to send more targeted broadcasts and trigger automated campaigns.

How to organize email lists

For example, Blog readers can be tagged by the type of content links clicked and subscription date. Customers can be tagged by the products they purchased, coupons used, and their location (city or zip code). Prospects can be tagged by the content they download, website pages visited, subscription date, webinar or event attended. Donors can be tagged by their donation tier.

What is the difference between an email list and an email tag?

An email list is a group of people who have opted-in for your emails because they have an interest in your content or products. You can set up one list and tag your contacts based on what you know about them. Or you can set up multiple email lists based on different sign up forms or landing pages.

The downside of having multiple lists is that you can have the same contact on different lists. For example, someone is on your product list because they brought a product, but they are also on a lead magnet list because they downloaded a piece of free content. If you send the same content to different lists, people on more than one list may receive duplicate contact.

How to segment using tags?

While there are many ways to segment your subscribers in AWeber, one of the easiest and most flexible ways to segment subscribers is with tags. You can search for subscribers who have a single tag, multiple tags, or any variety of tags. You can even search for subscribers who don’t have a specific tag.

To segment, apply a search filter to find a set of subscribers that have something in common. You can apply a segment to multiple lists or one list. Watch the video below for step-by-step instructions on a segment using tags.

How to personalize your emails using tags and segments

Tagging lets you send highly personalized email content and set up segments that let you deliver the right message to the right people at the right time. In fact, segmenting your list with personalized content can increase your conversion rate by 760%. But how do you use this information to drive your email campaigns?

Let’s say you are a non-profit. You could identify who donated last year and who did not. Then, send an email to each group. You can create two different email campaigns: one for those that sent you a donation and the other that did not. The first email in the series warms up your audience based on prior behavior before asking them for a donation in the second email.

Campaign #1: Sent to subscribers who donated last year

Campaign #2: Sent to subscribers who did not donate, but downloaded a guide

5 ways to use tagging in your email campaigns

1-Categorize your subscribers into groups

You can search for anyone that meets specific criteria and tag them all at once. For example, tag subscribers who haven’t opened an email from you in the past 30 days, anyone who clicked on a particular link, or those who joined from a certain web form or landing page.

If you have multiple sign up forms, you can apply different tags to subscribers when they fill out separate forms. This way, you’ll know all the content they are interested in to send them the right message.

Sign up forms tag and tracking fields

If you add custom fields to your sign up forms or landing pages, you can collect additional information about your contacts’ interests and preferences. For each custom choice, a tag is added to that person so you can send more targeted and personalized emails.

example of a custom form field

2-Trigger personalized campaign automations

Let’s say you’re a food blogger who’s planning a webinar on the vegan diet. When you create your sign up form for your webinar, make sure everyone who signs up to your list receives the tag “vegan-webinar.” By tagging subscribers this way, you’ll know who joined your list and what content they’re likely interested in.

When the tag “vegan-webinar” is added to your list, you can set up an automated welcome series to trigger to let them know they are registered and what to expect. Since you know these subscribers are also interested in vegan-related content, you can send targeted information about other vegan resources, like a few free recipes to keep them engaged in your welcome email series.

3-Send personalized content in a broadcast email

After the webinar is over, you can send a one-time broadcast email to tagged subscribers with more content. Simply search for subscribers with the tag “vegan-webinar” in Manage Subscribers, create a new segment, and send.

Vegan webinar tag search

Share an invite to download another bonus incentive, such as a vegan meal plan or promo code to purchase a recipe book. Add as many emails to your campaign as you need to maintain regular communication. Your subscribers will remain engaged with content they’re interested in, and you can nurture them to become loyal customers.

4-Create multiple campaigns in a single list

With Campaigns, you are not bound by a single automation series per list, and you can apply tags at any point during a sequence. Create multiple campaigns in one list, and trigger them with specific tags through AWeber web forms or landing pages.

When subscribers are tagged with a new tag, they’ll receive the appropriate campaign, even if they’re already subscribed to that list. Below, we’ll walk through when this might be helpful and how to set up tags to trigger your campaigns.

Tag applied for paleo Close up of Tag applied tag form

Let’s say every six months you also run a 30-day Paleo Challenge. This is a lead generation effort to get people on your main list through other means. It’s built for new leads, but you want existing subscribers to be able to opt in, too.