Sage CRM and best practice List management in MailChimp

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Sage CRM and best practice List management in MailChimp

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Sage CRM has an integration with MailChimp which I have written about in a series of articles beginning with "MailChimp, An Introduction". 

I have seen some discussion within the forums about how the integration works and I thought it would be useful to share some thoughts about the way in which the integration features reflect best practice MailChimp list management.

The integration provided in Sage CRM allows users to:

  • Create Sage CRM contacts as subscribers within a single MailChimp list.
  • Create new targeted email marketing campaigns in Sage CRM.
  • Send the campaign and automatically add a communication record to the relevant records in Sage CRM
  • View a list of sent MailChimp campaigns in Sage CRM and gain valuable insight into the results - opens, clicks, bounces and more
  • Further segment lists and groups in Sage CRM based on responses for future campaigns

Why does the integration work with a single list?

MailChimp uses the idea of lists to manage contacts who are called "subscribers."

Once a list is created in MailChimp you can import and collect new subscribers directly within the MailChimp interface. You can then send email campaigns to that list.

MailChimp allows you to create as many lists as you want, so why does Sage CRM only work with one list?

Actually MailChimp advises that it is often best to manage one master list and use groups and segmenting features to target different subscribers. 

It is important to realise that within MailChimp multiple lists are mutually exclusive of one another. This is to the extent that the subscribers in each list are for all intents and purposes separate contacts; changing the subscriber email address in one will not change it in the other. Also when a campaign is sent MailChimp will automatically remove undeliverable, bounced addresses and 'unsubscribes' from the list used and these undeliverable addresses are stored for that list to prevent accidental re-sends.

Note: There isn't a way of suppressing an email address across all the different lists you may have in MailChimp. For example if you create a new list and import a set of subscribers, MailChimp can't block subscribers who bounced or unsubscribed from another list.

For this reason MailChimp advises that it is best practice for list management to add new subscribers to your current list. 

Note: Within the integration with Sage CRM and MailChimp, if a contact unsubscribes from the MailChimp List that Sage CRM uses then that 'unsubscribe' action will flow back into Sage CRM as an opt out during the overnight synchronization.

Groups and Segments

I think we need to consider what groups and segments are within MailChimp. 

Groups in MailChimp

This allows a subscriber in a MailChimp list to be associated with an interest or a category. Within the MailChimp subscription forms subscribers can opt-in to different Groups that you can create to provide more tailored content. But it is only a category. It is not the set of records to which the email will be sent. To send an email to a group it would have to be converted into a segment first.


A segment in MailChimp is a specific set of subscribers in your list. The segment can be reused again and again and it records which subscribes were sent the emails.

I understand the difference between a MailChimp Group and a MailChimp Segment as follows - A MailChimp group is how the subscriber can classify themselves but the segment is how they then have been targeted by the MailChimp user who has launched the campaign.

Sage CRM has its own way of classifying and creating sets of customer information within its CRM Groups feature. When these are sent to MailChimp within the integration these are created as static MailChimp segments that can’t be edited later. A CRM contact maybe end up in multiple segments within the MailChimp list.

This doesn't stop a MailChimp administrator from including those subscribers with their own segments or their own groups. MailChimp allows you to create a dynamic, editable segments that can be auto-update each time you add new subscribers to your list who fit the segment conditions. But because when a CRM group is sent to MailChimp, it is sent at a specific date and time it is created as a static segment to allow you to be sure who was included in that Campaign driven from within Sage CRM.

In Future

The integration was designed for simplicity and uses the core best practice ideas of a main List and multiple segments. But the MailChimp REST API, which is used by the integration, includes coverage of the MailChimp group feature. It would be interesting to know whether you felt that there was a need to include coverage of Groups and how you think that the integration can be enhanced.

  • We have had requests from a client who uses Dynamic segments in Mailchimp to improve the integration relating to dynamic groups. at  least the ability to display campaigns sent from Mailchimp directly in CRM based on the email address, even if the group didnt originate in CRM.

  • Our experience is that the Group subscription information in Mailchimp (their area (s) of interest) are wiped out when a contact is updated by a new Group list pushed from CRM.  We have a couple of requests to create and manage interest areas for contacts as well.  

  • Good.  I know that my colleagues in Product Management are currently reviewing possible MailChimp integration enhancements.

  • The article states:

    The integration provided in Sage CRM 7.3 allows users to:

       Create Sage CRM contacts as subscribers within a single MailChimp list.

    Does this mean that the full sync has the ability to create contacts in CRM from subscribers?

  • Lee


    We can create subscribers in a MailChimp list from Contacts in Sage CRM.  

  • New to mailchimp and also have it integrated into our Sage CRM. I am having issues pushing groups over to MailChimp - in fact, I get this error message:

    An error was encountered pushing over group to MailChimp, see logs for more details.

    FYI, I was able to push one list over at the beginning. After reading some of this discussion, am I correct to assume we can only push one list over and then we must use that list to create segments? Confused...and anxious to use MailChimp inside our CRM!!!

  • Carolyn

    See the article:

    When we configure Sage CRM to send subscriber information over to MailChimp we do so by sending the data to create a new segment within an existing List.  

  • I'm a bit late to this party, but I saw on another post that the uploaded fields relating to the contact are extremely limiting.  It would be great to have more flexibility on this so that we can have further automation either via the MailChimp side or the CRM side, i.e. somehow syncing an Account Manager field with MC.

    Also, being able to filter the results by yet another field, i.e. Opens by Account Manager, or Opens by State, which is really our main goal.

  • There are only a certain number of fields that are passed from Sage CRM and MailChimp (see: and there is some limited ability to customize these.  The fields are focussed on the subscriber rather than the account manager or state.  

    Once the click and open data is returned to Sage CRM however you could create views that for a MailChimp segment report on State or Account Manager information.

  • Can new subscriber (newly created) in MailChimp be pushed to Sage CRM? I can't find the function in Sage CRM to trigger the import from MailChimp. Can anyone help? Thanks

  • Ralph

    No.  Subscribers in MailChimp have to be exported and then imported into Sage CRM.