Audiences based on email data

How to segment visitors using data from your email service or marketing automation tool. Personalize for subscribers, leads, and customers.

What are email-based audiences?

Typically, all information collected through forms are sent to your email service (ESP). Maybe you have also set up triggers and collect data about visitors' behavior using your ESP (e.g. "subscriber A downloaded PDF"). This allows you to create personalized emails or to trigger automated email flows.

For this, your ESP transforms data into so-called merge-tags. Those tags can be attached to any link in your emails. Unless can pick up these tags and create audiences based on it. This way you don't just personalize your emails, you can also personalize the pages that are linked within these emails.

Inspiration & ideas for email-based audiences

  • Dynamic landing pages: Change key website elements (e.g. headline, value proposition, CTA) based on data stored in your ESP. Set it up once and connect it to as many email campaigns as you want. You have a fitness app and store information about users' fitness goals? Set up goal-based audiences and tailor the entire website to this goal - recommended content, promoted products, CTAs, testimonials...
  • Personalized cross-selling: If someone has already bought from you, leverage data about purchasing history to promote other products. Through personalization, you'll be able to not only pick the right product to promote, you'll be able to describe it in a way that resonates with the customer.
  • Delite subscribers with a personalized landing page: Add dynamic placeholders to your landing page that will be replaced with subscriber-specific information, such as {{name}}. Learn how.
  • Industry-specific website experience: Your email service holds information about your leads' industry? Create industry-specific audiences and tailor your website copy to them.
  • Personalized up-selling: Data about purchasing history can also be used to create well-converting promotions. You have a flower delivery business and Mother's Day is coming up? Check your customers' order preferences (modern bouquets, roses, potted plants,...) and sent them a tailored promo.


How to set up email-based audiences

Common email merge tags

How the email merge tag (=query string parameter) looks, depends on the email tool you are using. Here are some of the most popular tools and their merge tags.

  • MailChimp's merge tags: |TAG| (e.g. |FIRSTNAME|)
  • ActiveCampaign's merge tags: %TAG% (e.g. %FIRSTNAME%)
  • Drip's merge tags: {{ tag }} (e.g. {{ firstname }}
  • ConvertKit's merge tags: {{ tag }} (e.g. {{ subscriber.first_name }})

Tips and best practices

  • To create an audience, use the final string or just the parameter (without a value). A dynamic string (parameter={{some_value}}) will not work - the audience has to be set up according to the parameter displayed in the final URL.

Example: within your email tool, you'll create the link{{preferences}} which for the subscriber will result in - always use the final result.


unless-parameter-audience-wrong Query string parameter is set to preferences={{preferences}} will not trigger the audience.


unless-parameter-audience-right Query string parameter is set to preferences OR preferences=roses will trigger the audience correctly.

  • The triggers "is empty" and "is not empty" is useful if you want to set up audiences that trigger if no (or any) parameter is set.
  • Remember to correctly use the AND/OR function. For example: You can target based on two query string parameters but a person might only match one at a time. In that case, use the "OR" function to combine those triggers.