Table of Contents


  • Static Groups make good mailing lists for contacts who don't necessarily have any other relationship (e.g. preset or past member or donor) because of the opt-in nature of them.
  • Smart Groups are good for mailing lists to members, donors, event participants, etc.
  • Be purposeful and thoughtful with your email strategy. Is one mailing list enough? What kinds of emails are you going to send?

Mailing Lists

Create Mailing Lists Before sending the email

CiviCRM gives you the ability to send a bulk mailing (CiviMail) to a list of contacts from a search result. Doing this creates an ad hoc, hidden Smart Group which is used to capture unsubscribe data from those contacts. This is most likely considered bad practice, unless the group really is ad-hoc and will not be used for any other purposes it's probably best to send them an email. The issue with this is, if you want to send another email to this same list of contacts, you would perform another search and send another ad hoc email that creates another hidden Smart Group and therefore doesn't preserve the unsubscribe data from the first mailing.

CiviMail Foundations

Targeting contacts i.e. Creating Mailing Lists

  • It's important to maintain mailing lists separate from your other groups
    • to allow for an opt-in process.
    • to respect contact's mailing preferences and avoid losing unsubscribes
    • to help keep your mailings targetted for better results
    • to help your contacts know what you will be mailing them about
  • Static groups allow for
    • creates an opt-in workflow
    • send to contacts who don't have data you can search on yet (never donated, not yeat a member)
  • Smart Groups are good for mailing lists to members, donors, event participants, etc.
    • dynamically add contacts based on their activities
    • ad hoc pick-up contacts based on up to the minute status.
  • When a contact unsubscribes, they only unsubscribe from a single mailing list (group) and not from everything.
    • Unsubscribe info persists only in a saved, visible mailing list group.
    • Sending a bulk mailing to a search results list actually creates a "hidden smart group", which means unsubscribe info is not persisted
  • SO THEREFORE: Don't send to a search results list ad-hoc (unsubscribe info not captured, bad data hygiene, etc.) but rather:
    • Have a look at existing Smart and Static Group Mailing Lists: does one already exist?
    • Do your search, find your peeps
    • Create a mailing list group (smart vs. static already discussed)
    • Go to Mailings > New Mailings and choose your new group for the To: field
  • Advanced Search "Display results as" option has to be set to Contacts to create a Smart Group

Site visitors self-selecting to receive mailings i.e. "Alexa, sign me up for the CA mailing list!"

  • Allowing contacts to sign up by Using the subscribe link (seen here on the CA site) this page will display any public groups configured as mailing lists
  • The Get News module in the footer of the website (adds to one specific group)
  • Could use the Curated Group Join extension to add mailing list sign-up on the bottom of contribution pages. This extension is currently being used on Individual membership pages for contacts to opt-in to receiving The Voice... so we can't collect newsletter signups on that page, but we could on all the other contribution pages (and other forms)

Unsubscribing vs. Opting-out

  • Unsubscribe from a list (Smart Group) vs. Opt-out of all bulk emails
  • Unsubscribes happen by following links in mailings only, so far as we know
  • Users can opt-out of email comms via
    • A link in a mailing - both "unsubscribe from this mailing list" and "opt me out entirely" tokens are available
    • Visiting their /user page and clicking Edit My Contact details
  • No option to visit a page on the site and "update preferences" at this time
    • This can likely be configured?

Understanding email tokens

  • Specifically what kinds of tokens are available
  • Inserting tokens can/will be covered in the Mosaico section

Updated: 3-6-2019