How to back up your MailChimp data.

I’ll admit it, I’m a hoarder, especially when it comes to information. I think information should be well labelled, meaningful and archived (hence why it bugs me when people use meaningless subject lines!).

So when I decided it was time to leave Mailchimp and move to a better ESP (read exactly why here!) I was in a quandry what to do with all my wonderful user data!

Of Course, list members is one thing — and that’s quite easy to do, but what about all those details campaign metrics? There’s a wealth of user activity information held by MailChimp that you could lose! Well here’s how I managed to keep it all.

Lists & Members

You’ll be wanting to keep those hard earned members. Here’s how:

NB- Before doing this, make sure any new subscribers are already going somewhere else. You should also consider ensuring unsubscribes from previously sent Mailchimp emails are also going to be reflected in your new ESP.
  • Log in to Mailchimp, find the account & list you want to save.
  • Click the name of the list you want to save.
  • Click the ‘export list’ button.
  • After a little while you should get an email, or you should find the download by heading to Manage Contacts > Member export.
  • Download this file — keep it safe! Check it! Upload the contacts to your new ESP — including the unsubscribers!


Here’s the good news — since Mailchimp charges you based on list size, you can delete your list and still have an account with all your old campaign creative in. So there’s nothing really to do here apart from make sure you follow the last step to delete your list!

Easy bit over..

All that juicy data

This part assumes you’re thinking you might actually be going to use this data one day, if you’re NEVER going to, then don’t worry about it. But what Mailchimp has which you don’t want to lose is information on who did what when.

Want to know who was sent which email, who opened and when, who clicked which link? — then here’s how to keep all of that data.

This data lives with Mailchimp’s API, but you don’t have to be a techy nerd like me to actually get at it, there’s a bunch of cool services that help.

But you do need to understand the following..

We’re going to use the API to download the data we want into a database.

Lets start at the end — where do we want to keep this data? For our process we need a web connected database. You can take your pick really depending on what you know or what you already have — here’s a few options:

Pick your database
Amazon Redshift, Google BigQuery, Azure SQL warehouse, PostgreSQL, MySQL, SQl server

Worked out your preferred data storage solution? Confused? Well I used postgres because it’s the one I’m most familiar with and it’s also so easy to set up on heroku — so I’ll use that in this example, it’s also what if recommend for beginners.

  • Head over to Heroku, sign up (it’s free🎉)
  • Create a new app.
  • In your new app, go to resources and add a new add-on ‘Heroku postgres’ — you can use the free ‘hobby dev’ to give it a try, but this has a 10,000 row limit.
  • Go to the details of your new database and find the ‘view credentials’ button — you’ll need to save the host, database, user, password and port information for use later on (and to view your data in the end!)

Once you have a database, you want a tool to get the data into it. This process is called ‘ETL’ — Extract, Transform, Load. We’re going to extract data from Mailchimps API, Transform and Load it into a database. Here are some services that do it!

  • Stitchdata (their Mailchimp tool is being worked on, so not sure if it’s up to scratch yet)
  • Skyvia

In this example, I used so here’s how.

  • Set up your account.
  • Connect your database — select postgres and enter the connection settings from earlier.
  • Now in go to sources, add source, and select Mailchimp.
  • You’ll need to follow the steps in to connect your account.

Once set up, the first sync will take a while — but when the data is stored you can pause or remover the sync and it will remain in your postgres database.

A word of warning — this process can take quite a long time (over a week) if you have a lot of data, don’t worry though -it all happens behind the scenes! 😌

How to wind MailChimp down so you’re not billed anymore!

Sorry Mailchimp

Once you’ve downloaded the list & data, and you’re confident nothing is missing, you can delete the list from Mailchimp (so that they stop billing you!) To do this:

  • In the list click Manage contacts > Delete all contacts.
  • Follow the instructions, brave one!

And you’re done!

Well done, now you have your data in a highly accessible fast location and you can move away from Mailchimp.

Now that the data is liberated there is actually a ton of cool stuff you can do with it that you didn’t even realise — but that’s for some future posts!

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Sean Thompson’s story.