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An Insider’s Guide to Mastering Tags & Categories in Infusionsoft

by Paul Sokol

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Imagine if you could pull a list of all your prospects, who have downloaded a specific report and are interested in a particular product. How targeted do you think you could make that message? You might be familiar with tags already. You’ve heard Jordan Hatch discuss tags on his Mastermind Webinars. You heard about tags being used to launch Follow-up Sequences from the Campaign Builder.

If you’ve ever tried to wrap your head around how tags are used in your business, you’ll love this post. 

The purpose of a tag is to segment your list. The more you know about your list, the better. Being able to pull a highly targeted segment from your database not only gives you the opportunity to deliver a very targeted message, but also gives you a better chance that the recipient will take action. Simply, tags organize a lot of data into smaller chunks so you can quickly access it later.

A good tag structure allows you to know at-a-glance the type of person you’re dealing with. When you can pull up a Contact Record and by viewing the tags, you can get a good idea of the relationship between that person and your company. It makes life that much easier so you don’t have to guess if someone has demonstrated interest in your marketing offers.

As you can imagine, lacking a thoughtful tag structure can severely limit your abilities within Infusionsoft. Organizing your tags when you get started implementing your sales and marketing software gives you a massive advantage over your competitors. The benefit in being organized is when you need to create and launch sophisticated marketing campaigns and you can do it without a headache.

An example of applying a tag within the Campaign Builder.Within Infusionsoft, tags can have parent categories. Tag categories can be used in searches and are displayed when looking at Contact Records. That being said, tag categories are just as important as the tags themselves.

The best analogy I’ve found is that categories are like a drawer and tags are like the stuff inside the drawer. So, in a sock drawer you are expecting to find socks. In a category of ‘Free Items,’ for example, you would be expecting to see tags that denote free reports, webinars or videos.

From my experience, there are two main uses of tags: one that denotes a person’s status with your company, and everything else. The person status can be something broad like ‘customer’, ‘prospect’ or ‘affiliate’. You can use other tags to reflect their activities and other critical information like ‘Downloaded Report’, ‘AM Call Preference’ and more.

I would start by creating some fundamental tag categories and then building out from there. For nearly any business, you can start out with these five categories:

  • Customers – Tags here might include ‘Gold Member’, ‘Customer’, ‘Monthly Cleaning’. This category depends on when the contact exchanges money. Is it a recurring or one-time transaction? What did they purchase? The tag should describe this relationship.
  • Prospects – Tags here may include ‘Prospect’, ‘Cold Prospect’. This category is similar to the customers tag category above.
  • Free Items – Put tags in here like ‘5 Items Report’, ‘Video Series’. This category should be to track all your free content that you give away. You can even have tags applied from links in an email so you can track resource downloads, video views, etc.
  • E-Subscriptions – Tags here would be great for segmenting digital content subscriptions. Examples include a ‘Monthly Newsletter’, ‘Mastermind’ or ‘Blog Posts’. This is where all email broadcast segments should go. This way you can quickly and easily see what subscriptions people are in.
  • Behavior – Put tags in here that don’t really fit well into any of the other categories. For example, a ‘Click to Home Page’ tag doesn’t mean they are a prospect/customer and it is not a free item or subscription, it is just a behavior. This is a great way to later target activities based on the intent of a contact on your list.

Keep scalability in mind before putting many tags into the Behavior category. Ask yourself, “Am I going to create more tags like this or are they part of a larger group?” If so, you might want to create another category. A great example would be making use of an ‘Events’ category if you operate multiple live events. For instance, we have an “InfusionCon” category that contains dozens (maybe even hundreds) of tags that relate to InfusionCon, a sales and marketing event we’ve been putting on for the past eight years.

Ideally, every contact should just have one tag from either the prospect or customer category (they can’t be both, right?) and a bunch of other tags. For repeat business on existing customers, they can be tagged as a customer and have additional tags indicating product interest. This closes the gaps found between certain customer-centric stages of the customer lifecycle.

For more guidance, here’s an in-depth tutorial that explains how to setup tag categories within Infusionsoft.

These are just some suggestions to get started. The goal in organizing tags is to help you maintain their logic and relevance for later sales and marketing. A tag should only be used for only one piece of information. The more detail you have, the better. Rather than have a tag ‘Prospect Report Download’, you should have a ‘prospect’ and a ‘report download’ tag; those are two very distinct and different pieces of the relationship.

How do you organize your tags? I’d love to hear how you organize the tags for your business in the comments below.

Photo Credit: Kasaa

  • Jonathan Thompson

    Hi Paul,

    “How do you organize your tags? I’d love to hear how you organize the tags for your business in the comments below.”

    When we have a campaign that is more long-term in nature and has a lot of moving pieces, I create a category. For example, “Meditation Challenge.”

    Now when I have more transactional type of campaigns, a web form for that month’s offer, we have created “YYYY-MM” categories, e.g., “2013-02.” Then we lump February’s short-term tagging needs in there for quick reference.

    I have never had a great solution for retired tags. Some pull lists and store outside of IFS and delete tag. I created a “Retired” category. Once a quarter I have an intern clear out retired tags by changing the category, then changing the name of the tag to “Retired_Original Tag’s Name.” It is not ideal but it lumps the trash together.

    But I love tags. Tagging tactics change over time and per campaign. Sometimes I use tag for easier reporting on my dashboard, sometimes, I use tags to launch campaigns when I import lists from other information systems, and mostly I use tags to label a contact with their interest or behavior.

    Thank you,


    • Paul Sokol

      Thanks for sharing Jonathan! That is definitely a great way to organize your tags.

      I’ve seen people setup a category ‘2013 Promotions’ and then each tag has the date in it. Might be a little easier way to minimize how many categories you have :)

      The primary goal should always be ‘If I’m looking at someone’s contact record and see the tag name/category, will it make sense?’

      If you are needing to retire tags often, you might be suffering from tag proliferation, which is just an overuse of tags.

      Thanks to the new campaign builder, it is much easier to pull goal reports for things rather than have to create a tag for everything. The benefit here is that you can filter based on when the goal was achieved; just like any other report, you can run actions and add those specific people to other campaigns.

      For example, if you have an ebook request webform and subsequent link click goal when they actually download it, you don’t need to necessarily apply a tag when they download it. Unless you plan to segment the logic somewhere down the chain based on that tag, you can simply setup a goal report for people that hit that link click goal.

      I’d definitely recommending becoming familiar with the campaign reports:

  • Lynda

    We have a direct sales team and make sales into publications in 7 different markets. Each of the sales people has their own category. Within the sales person’s category he will have (ie) John_Sydney_BestProspects , John_Sydney_Clients , John_Sydney_HOT. These 3 sub-categories for each of the 7 markets per sales person. That means our marketing team can market back to clients or highly engaged people in 3 different ways without having to continually ask the sales people for lists. They love it.

    • Paul Sokol

      Very interesting way to leverage segmentation.

      Do you find it obtrusive that the sales rep name is in the category AND the tag?

  • Christopher Winkler

    This is gold, thanks. I am not adding tags to the people who request the free report and that is one of the first things I will do after I get back from Infusioncon 2013, as well as bring all my legacy sequences to the campaign builder. Keep up the great tips!

    • Paul Sokol

      Hey Christopher! With the campaign goal reporting, there is less of a dependence on tags these days, so you might not NEED to tag those report requests unless you are going to segment based on that OR will be routing campaigns based on the tag presence.

  • Fahed


    I’m brand new to Infusionsoft and am trying to get my head around the use of Lead Sources in light of tags.

    I read an eBook on using tags and the author had one category called “Where they came from”. At the same time, though, Infusionsoft provides a native “Lead Source” field and the ability to manage lead sources through it.

    My confusion, therefore, is: which one should we use?

    If it is possible to segment a list based on tags AND lead sources, then using Lead Sources alone is a no-brainer. But if we can’t, then perhaps we should use both.

    Please advise.



    • Paul Sokol

      Absolutely Fahed! When configuring a decision diamond in a campaign you can use both lead source and tag criteria; you can also do many searches in the system with lead source as a filter.

      I strongly recommend using lead sources as they are intended. The main reason is because the ROI reporting pulls from the lead sources; and you can track lead source expenses.

      Especially for any paid sources, definitely make a unique lead source for each. This includes paid online ads. If you are running 5 different AdWords ads (for example), they can all point to the same landing page, but you would want to pass the lead source ID so you know which ad specifically is performing best :)

  • Erene

    Hi Paul,

    I’m from a coaching and mentorship company that sells workshops, seminars, conferences, summits, coaching sessions and other events. We get leads from exhibitions and online channels like facebook ads. Then we send email blast to invite these leads to attend
    various seminar preview sessions to sell them various workshops. Running seminar
    preview is one of our major activity of lead conversion. We run preview seminar
    quite often, about 2 to 3 times a week.

    In each preview seminar, we will sell them minimum one workshop. Some leads
    sign up for the workshop during the preview seminar. For those who didn’t sign up,
    we still invite them to come to the next same preview seminar to sell them the same workshop
    and also other preview seminar to sell them other workshop as well.
    For those who already sign up a specific workshop, we will invite them to come for other preview seminar to sell them other workshops. All leads are belong to all sales people, we don’t
    identify lead owner because all leads are invited to all preview seminars. Sales
    people who is in charge of the preview seminar selling the respective workshop
    will in charge of doing the follow up sales.

    I’m not sure whether I should use tags to identify who attended what preview seminar and on when. There is a lot of ongoing preview seminar, selling the same and different workshops. I would need to at least know who attended what preview session, if not when they attended.

    Should I use opportunity in this case? I need to keep track how many of preview seminar the leads have attended
    and what preview seminar they attended and on when they attended. I’m afraid I will overuse the tags. Normally leads will sign up for a workshop on the spot. If they didn’t sign
    up a workshop on the spot.

    We seldom do follow up, because the workshop price and value is fixed and
    there isn’t a deal to negotiate with a customers. We only do follow up on people who have paid a certain amount of down
    payment (instead of paying full price) because they have financial issue, and this case is very little.

    Could you advise when I should use opportunity and when I should use tags?
    Really need your help. Thank you very much


    • Paul Sokol

      Thanks for reaching out Erene!

      With regards to using Opportunities, I would only use them if you are going to have a dedicate sales person/team who is going to be tracking that sales pipeline. If they aren’t going to be actively calling/emailing these prospects to try and close a workshop, you won’t get any value from using Opportunities and it will create more work for yourself.

      [If you are, check out my post series on automating the sales pipeline:

      As far as the tags, I think you should figure out a scalable schema of tags for each workshop.

      For example, create a category called ‘Workshops 2013′ and then for each one, have a ‘Workshop A Preview’, ‘Workshop A Purchase’ and maybe some others.

      Next year, build a new category Workshops 2014 and repeat.

      Or maybe have an explicit category for each workshop and then just have a Preview and Purchased tag.

      Whatever you decide, you should be able to quickly tell who has attended and who has seen the preview for each workshop just by looking at the tags :)

      Feel free to reply if you need further clarification!

  • Suzanne

    Paul, great mastermind today, thank you. What are your thoughts about using tags to dispatch an email automatically, outside of a campaign or a tag that triggers a campaign? For exmaple, if some one takes a lesson from me, and I tag them Lessons->Lesson1, an email automatically gets sent to them with a lesson summary. That works OK, but the trouble is that now I have kind of forgotten what tags send emails (oops), and the other less obvious thing is that everyone’s “lesson 1″ is different. Any thoughts about how to manage those types of tags or updates on my part?

    • Paul Sokol

      Thanks Suzanne! Glad you liked it :)

      You nailed the issue, it is very hard to remember which tags do what. If you are going to manually do something, why not use a Note template instead? This can start a campaign sequence and you should be able to setup naming conventions that make it really easy for you.

      “Lessons – Send Lesson 1 Email” or something.

      You can do Note searches with this AND see the goal performance in the builder.

      If everyone’s lesson 1 is different, does that mean you are populating some custom field with their specific lesson? If so, just setup an internal form to collect the data and upon submission, the resulting sequence can send the email!

  • alex cleary

    Hi Paul,

    I have a question about this – where you say “Ideally, every contact should just have one tag from either the prospect or customer category (they can’t be both, right?) and a bunch of other tags.”

    In our situation.. they sometimes are both a customer and a prospect. (i think)

    We run structured programs for business owners. If someone goes through one of our programs, their business can grow to the point that they are ready for the next program in the pipeline.

    Should we have a customer category with a tag like customer for each program and same with the prospect category? Or should we be removing the customer tag once they graduate from the first program, then adding customer for the next program and use custom fields to denote that they are essentially an alumni of that first program?

    Trying to make sure I am doing this as efficiently as possible…


    • Paul Sokol

      I think you’ve got the right idea Alex.

      I would create two tags for every program, one that indicates they are a prospect for it, and another that indicates they’ve paid for it.

      So, if you have a program called ‘Widget 101′, I’d have:

      Prospect>Widget 101
      Customer>Widget 101

      Where prospect/customer are the categories.

      If you need to have two customer tags so you know who has finished and who is currently taking the program, I’d have (for the customer tags)

      Customer>Active Widget 101
      Customer>Widget 101

      Not only will this give you good segmentation, you’ll be able to create different campaign paths for people with these tags ;)

      For example, let’s say there is a Widget 102 course and you’ve got some opt-in for people to learn more.

      -If they have the Active Widget 101 tag, you can put them in a sequence that basically says, “Hey, wait until you finish Widget 101 first” and have it trigger another ‘Ok, now buy 102′ sequence once they get the Widget 101 tag (meaning they have finished it)
      -If they already have completed it, maybe you just funnel then into this 2nd sequence upon opt-in.
      -If they have the prospect tag for Widgets 101, maybe there is a special sequence which recommends they do 101 first before considering 102.
      -Lastly, a generic ‘Buy Widgets 102′ if they don’t have any of those tags.

      Talk about easily building a trusting relationship :)

      Let me know if you have any more questions and thanks for reaching out!

      • alex cleary

        Great, thanks Paul!

        • Paul Sokol

          You’re welcome Alex :)

          Hope that does the job for you!

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