Email Marketing Integration for Nonprofits Using Salesforce - MailChimp

Email Marketing Integration for Nonprofits Using Salesforce - MailChimp

At KELL, we are always asked about the email marketing integration applications and how they work with Salesforce. With so many options out there we decided to dedicate a KELL Labs series to provide the low down on some of the more popular email marketing integrations, the details of the integration that you need to know and of course, our recommendation.

This week, we’ll take a look at MailChimp for Salesforce. This fairly new integration, released in July 2013, is available on the AppExchange.



Disclaimer: pricing can change, so check with the vendor before making a decision; however, at the time of our research the cost for this integration is completely free. The cost of MailChimp itself varies based on the number of subscribers you have. It’s helpful to keep in mind that if you have one contact that is subscribed to multiple lists, for example they are on three different lists, this will equal three counts against your subscriber number. You may want to take advantage of Groups or Segments in MailChimp to lower your subscription count. Information on MailChimp pricing can be found here.



MailChimp has a Knowledge Base with hundreds of frequently asked questions with accompanying how-to articles, videos, and related articles. Although these articles are pretty detailed responses with step by step information, we found that finding someone to talk to about a particular issue is not easy. To talk to someone from MailChimp with any support questions, you have to submit a ticket via their Contact Us page. They currently do not have a support line or live chat capability like some other integrations. Although they respond to emails fairly quickly, there is something left to be desired for quick support.


How Mailing Lists are Created

New subscribers who sign up on through a MailChimp subscription form are created as a Lead record if they do not match a contact based on the email address field in Salesforce by using the Hourly Sync functionality in the integration. This process will require some Lead maintenance since there is no way to force the application to make Contact records instead.

If a contact is created in Salesforce and added to a MailChimp list, you must create queries to pass this information from Salesforce to MailChimp. You can build a query in Salesforce to build a list of contacts based on filters designed to target specific MailChimp lists. The query builder allows you to preview the list of contacts that will be passed from Salesforce to MailChimp, send a query into your MailChimp list immediately, or you can schedule a query to run at the same time daily. New subscribers will be added to your MailChimp list when the query is run.

Email Marketing Integration for Nonprofits Using Salesforce - MailChimp


Email Marketing Integration for Nonprofits Using Salesforce - MailChimp

You can use both options to sync information back and forth, but we recommend that you do all your contact management within Salesforce and use the query builder to add these contacts to MailChimp. This will allow you to avoid Lead creation and management and gives you control on the criteria for which a Contact is added to a List or Group. Doing it this way, you would need a form for newsletter subscription that goes straight into Salesforce and you would not use the MailChimp subscription form.


Unsubscribe/Subscription Process

Contacts that unsubscribe from your lists with the use of MailChimp links will be taken out of those lists in Salesforce with the use of the Hourly Sync functionality and Contacts that are manually taken out of lists on a one off basis within Salesforce will be synced back into MailChimp via your queries.


The Pros

MailChimp queries allow you to work within Salesforce and sync that information into specific MailChimp Lists, Interests or Groups automatically based on specific filters. When building a query, you have the ability to choose what group, interest and group this query will send new Contacts, Leads or Campaign Members to. However, if you don’t take full advantage of Interests and Groups within MailChimp, using this integration may not truly benefit you.


The Cons

If you update a contact’s email address in Salesforce it breaks the sync with MailChimp since the email address field is the only unique identifier. It will instead treat it as a new contact in and the old email address will remain in MailChimp. You will need to be aware that if a contact changes their email address, they will need to manually remove the old subscriber in MailChimp and you will lose that history.

The lead management portion of the integration, if you decide to keep managing contacts within MailChimp, can be clunky. Since every Lead must have a Last Name, that field must be populated in MailChimp for a lead to be successfully created. So you have a couple options to fix this, 1. You can assign a last name to all your contacts in MailChimp, 2. You can import all of them with (Unknown) in the required Last Name field, or 3. Import all your Contacts into SF first so that when the sync happens it will find a definitely find a matching Contact and will not create a Lead record.

Another con is that the MailChimp integration does not use native Salesforce Campaigns. Instead, it uses a custom object called MailChimp Campaigns. We have a feeling this feature will be integrated soon, but as of now it is not. There are some work-arounds if your organization relies heavily on SF campaigns, you can create your SF Campaign and use a query to add your SF Campaign members to a MailChimp list or group.


Our Take

MailChimp for Salesforce is a great tool to use your Salesforce data to build targeted MailChimp Groups or Lists. The query functionality can be an asset for your organization to focus on quality communication to a targeted group rather than quantities of communication to all your Contacts. Since this integration is new, we expect to see improvements to improve usability and functionality. If you are new to MailChimp, we would definitely recommend this application since installation and Lead maintenance will not be substantial and you have the freedom to build your MailChimp lists and groups strategically. If you have been using MailChimp for a while and have a built very elaborate lists, the initial integration may take time and work but once the sync in complete, Leads are cleaned up, and queries are built, this tool can provide users with great integration without having to much manual work moving forward.