Integrating with Mailchimp (Email)

In this article

Creating a Mailchimp account
Creating a mailing list
Completing the integration in ChurchSuite


Mailchimp is an email marketing campaign service that enables you to produce a range of beautiful mailers, newsletters and marketing materials for your church. Completing our integration with Mailchimp enables you to synchronise those in selected Address Book Tags (or even 'all contacts') with a subscriber Audiences in your Mailchimp account.

You can choose between 'one-way' and 'two-way' sync - contacts in ChurchSuite that are part of a sync Tag will carry over to populate your Audience in Mailchimp (one-way) - or contacts in your mailing list that are not in your sync Tag are removed from the Mailchimp Audience so that the two lists always match (two-way). Contact details in Mailchimp will automatically sync with the Address Book each night to ensure that your mailing lists are always up-to-date in both platforms!

Creating a MailChimp account

The first thing that you will need to complete this integration is a Mailchimp account for ChurchSuite to integrate with. If your organisation does not already use MailChimp you can sign up free of charge from their website.

Creating a mailing list

If your organisation does not already use Mailchimp then opening an account will provide you with an empty Audience ready for you to add or import subscribers. Customers with an existing Mailchimp account can use the Manage Audience drop-down list to View audiences.

From the Manage Audience drop-down, select Settings and review the Audience name and defaults to make sure you are happy that the audience is suitably named and that the Campaign Defaults have the correct sender details.

Once you have entered all of the details for your new mailing list, click Save Audience and Campaign Defaults to complete the process.

Completing the integration in ChurchSuite

Having successfully created a Mailchimp account with an Audience to sync with (see above), log into ChurchSuite and click through to the Administrator menu and select Integrations. There you will see a list of all of the integrations that are installed on your account. Click on the MailChimp integration.

On the next screen you will see a progress bar partially filled yellow, indicating the integration progress. Read the instructions and the click Save and Proceed to continue.

On the next screen enter the Username and Password for your Mailchimp account and click Log In. You'll be prompted to Authorize ChurchSuite.

You are now returned to the ChurchSuite Mailchimp integration page. The progress bar is green, confirming the integration was completed successfully. Note that each Audience Name is listed.

In the future, each time you add a new Audience within Mailchimp, you will need to click the Reload button to see the new list in the Mailchimp integration page.

You can easily choose which fields are transmitted to your Mailchimp Audience from ChurchSuite during a "sync", giving you complete control over what data you share into Mailchimp. To remove certain fields, change the Sync fields options. These optional fields can be helpful when you wish to segment an Audience within Mailchimp. Alternatively you can restrict sharing of these personal information fields if you wish.

By default each Audience ID will have --No auto-sync--. For each list in turn, select the Tag(s) that you want Mailchimp to synchronise with from the Auto-Sync drop-down menu. For any Audiences that you don't wish to sync, leave them set as --No auto-sync--.

Clicking the Sync button for any list (or the Sync All button) will now run the sync process for the first time. Existing Tag contacts not already in Audience will now be added as new subscribers. In future, any new/edited contacts that are in the Tag will automatically have their details synced and added/edited within that Audience. However, contacts deleted from the Tag will not be removed from the Audience subscriber list. This is called a 'one way' sync.

If you enable 2-way Sync, contacts that are in your Mailchimp list but not in your Auto-Sync Tag will be removed from the Audience subscriber list - essentially your Tag and Audience subscriber list will match.

Warning before enabling 2-way sync!

You may have existing subscribers in your Mailchimp Audience that do not have a matching Address Book contact. Enabling "2-way Sync" would delete those unmatched subscribers from the Audience, and only retain those contacts in your "Auto-Sync" Tag. This is often useful for auto-removing subscribers when an Address Book contact is archived or they opt out in ChurchSuite (perhaps using a Smart Tag to match opted-in subscribers), but care should be exercised to ensure subscriber data is not unintentionally deleted.

Couples who share an email address

It's important to remember that a Mailchimp audience is essentially a list of subscriber email addresses. An email address can only exist once in an audience, although the same email address could be subscribed to multiple audiences in your account.

So, if you have couples in ChurchSuite that share the same email address and where both partners are in your Mailchimp sync tags, only one instance of that email address will be synced, which may result in a discrepancy between your total number of sync tagged people and your subscribed audience total. Similarly, it's not possible for one partner to unsubscribe their email address from an audience while the other partner remains subscribed to the same audience - the shared email address only exists once in a Mailchimp audience.

Intended functionality

Note that new Address Book contacts are never created by the Mailchimp integration, and neither are Address Book contacts ever deleted by the integration.

If you add a subscriber to an Audience in Mailchimp with two-way sync enabled, that contact would be immediately deleted during the next sync. Therefore, with two-way sync you should add new subscribers to your Address Book Tag. If you use Mailchimp to receive new subscribers to an Audience, you should only use one-way sync, so that they are not removed from the Audience when syncing with ChurchSuite by a two-way sync.

If a Mailchimp subscriber unsubscribes, that record is retained against the Audience, ensuring that former subscriber is excluded from the distribution list of future emails to that Audience. Mailchimp "Unsubscribe" requests do not change communication options of people in ChurchSuite - there is no link between "Receive general email" in ChurchSuite and a subscriber's Audience opt in/out. In this regard, people may choose to opt out of your Mailchimp Audience but remain opted in to your general ChurchSuite emails.

Let's consider some example scenarios...
Scenario 1. You add a person to the Address Book and add them to the Tag that's set to sync with a MailChimp Audience (assuming the person has consented to receiving your Mailchimp communications!) With both 1-way and 2-way syncing enabled, that person will be added to Mailchimp and opted in to receive Mailchimp communications.
Scenario 2. As per scenario 1, that person now opts-out of ChurchSuite communications by setting "Receive Emails = No", perhaps in My ChurchSuite, or they click an 'unsubscribe' link in a ChurchSuite email. That person will now cease to receive ChurchSuite general emails; but as long as they remain tagged, they'll remain in your Mailchimp Audience for both 1-way and 2-way syncing and will continue to receive Mailchimp emails as they're still opted in to your Mailchimp Audience. If you un-tag that person, 2-way syncing would remove the person from your Mailchimp Audience.
Scenario 3. A person not in your Address Book subscribes to your Mailchimp Audience - perhaps via a link on your website. With 1-way syncing nothing happens in ChurchSuite, they're opted in to your Mailchimp Audience and will receive your Mailchimp emails only. With 2-way syncing they'll actually be deleted from the Audience on the next 2-way sync, as they don't exist in the Address Book. With 2-way syncing it's your Tag(s) that are considered the authoritative source and since they're not in the Address Book they'll be immediately removed from the Mailchimp Audience on the next 2-way sync. They'll therefore receive no Mailchimp emails. Clearly 2-way sync would not be suitable where you expect subscribers from outside your Address Book. 2-way sync is however appropriate for something like a Leader's subscriber list where only Leaders in the leader Tag are intended to receive Leader communications and therefore anyone not in the Leader tag should not be recipients of the Mailchimp leader emails.
Note: Sometimes organisations use Mailchimp incorrectly by trying to create a single Audience and use 'segments' to manage the different groupings within the Audience. The problem then is that 'unsubscribe' is a complete unsubscribe from the Audience, not an unsubscribe from a segment. Therefore multiple Audiences for different purposes is the best approach, so that an unsubscribe from one Audience doesn't affect a subscription to other Audiences e.g. someone might unsubscribe from your weekly e-news sheet Audience, but can remain subscribed to your monthly church mission update emails.
Scenario 4. A person is in the Address Book sync tag and in the Mailchimp Audience. They click 'unsubscribe' in a Mailchimp email you've sent, meaning they're unsubscribed from any future Mailchimp emails to that Audience. Emails sent through ChurchSuite are still sent as long as the person remains opted in to "Receive general emails". If 2-way syncing is enabled they won't be added back to the Mailchimp Audience - instead Mailchimp will report an error in the integration sync logs during the next sync process. If they do wish to re-subscribe to the Mailchimp Audience, the church would need to log in to Mailchimp and remove them from Mailchimp's unsubscribe list and then they would be re-subscribed and tag-syncing would resume without error.
Scenario 5. A person updates their email address in My ChurchSuite. If they're in a sync-tag, they'll be added to Mailchimp as a new subscriber with that new email address. Their old Mailchimp subscription will remain until such time as they unsubscribe from the MailChimp Audience. The exception would be with 2-way syncing, where their old subscription would be deleted and replaced by their new subscription.
Scenario 6. A person updates their email address in Mailchimp. No changes are made to the email address held in your ChurchSuite Address Book. With 1-way syncing they'll continue to be synced to their old MailChimp subscription and Mailchimp emails will go to both email addresses. With 2-way syncing they'll be immediately deleted from the Mailchimp Audience on the next sync for the same reason outlined in Scenario 4 - ChurchSuite's authoritative tag source will see the different email addresses as two different people and remove the new email address subscriber and keep the one that matches with the ChurchSuite Address Book.
Scenario 7. If you're adding people to your Mailchimp lists outside of ChurchSuite then it's through Mailchimp that those lists are managed and not through ChurchSuite. From a data protection perspective, Mailchimp consent is entirely different to ChurchSuite consent, and each are managed separately. Organisations, as Data Controllers, remain responsible for communicating how personal data will be processed by the organisation (through their privacy notice) and whether that data will be shared with third-party Processors, like Mailchimp; and in doing so they will have sought appropriate consent at the point any personal data was submitted to them. In this regard ChurchSuite is not the Controller, the organisation is.

ChurchSuite syncs with Mailchimp once every 24 hours. Note that you can click Sync [All], or Sync for a particular Audience, to force a synchronisation at any time.

It's also possible to select Sync tags. Where Tags are enabled under the Sync fields, this option enables organisations to choose which Tags to sync over to their Mailchimp Audience. These can then be used within Mailchimp's Audience filtering to create subsets and groups within one master Audience; in other words, some of your ChurchSuite Tags can be made visible within Mailchimp so that you can use them to create bespoke groupings within your master mailing list based on the contacts in your ChurchSuite Tag groupings.

Sync tags - important

MailChimp added tag functionality to Audiences after ChurchSuite added the ability to sync ChurchSuite "tag names" across to MailChimp.

Synced "ChurchSuite tag names" do not map onto MailChimp's tags - they copy over a comma-separated string of 'tag names' into a custom field in the MailChimp Audience called 'Tags' - not to be confused with MailChimp's own tags. The original idea was that this string could be used to filter lists long before MailChimp created their own tags functionality.

For example, if you were syncing your ChurchSuite tags 'Tag 1', 'Tag 2' and 'Tag 3' and "John Smith" was in tags 1 and 3 in ChurchSuite, then his 'Tags' field in his MailChimp profile would read as "Tag 1", "Tag 3". The quotation marks can then be used to filter exact ChurchSuite 'tag names'.

Regrettably we have no way of mapping ChurchSuite tag names over to MailChimp's tags over their API.

With the integration completed you can navigate away from the page.

Now, whenever you add new contacts to the Tag(s) that you've set to sync to a Mailchimp Audience, you can click the Sync Now button to have those carried over immediately, if you wish. Alternatively, ChurchSuite syncs with Mailchimp each day (at approximately 4pm GMT and updates the logs at 6pm GMT), which will cause the details of the contacts in that Audience to update automatically.

Within the Mailchimp integration we've included a helpful Sync log, visible at the bottom of the page. Whenever you click to Sync a list (and at 4pm GMT each day for the daily auto-sync), a "Pending" note is logged, confirming that the sync is in progress. Depending on the size of your mailing list, syncing can take time. A "Finished" note is logged when the process has completed (and at 6pm GMT for the daily auto-sync).

Once you click Sync or Sync All, you can safely navigate away from the Integration page if you wish; the sync process will continue in the background and add a "Finished" note to the activity log when it is completed.

The "Finished" change log includes a summary of the operations completed and the success/errors. Clicking +More opens a detailed Sync Log (see below) so that you can investigate any issues.

The Sync Log is sorted in alphabetical email address order (determined by Mailchimp, and beyond our control to change the order). Against each subscriber you will see either Subscribed or Unsubscribed. Any errors are highlighted in red, along with Mailchimp's error messages and an option to click through for more information about the issue. Note that Mailchimp will not include subscribers with errors in the distribution list of any mailings sent through Mailchimp.

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