ActiveCampaign List Strategy

TAM 034: Tactical 20 – List Strategy

In this Tactical 20 podcast we talk about how to set up your list structure in the most efficient way.

If you are coming from systems like AWeber or MailChimp, don't get sucked into re-creating a multiple list management nightmare. Keep it simple and streamlined.

I talk about:

  • How many lists do you need
  • How to set up your list structure
  • Main list
  • Customer lists
  • Tags

If you would like to have a chat about how you could be using marketing automation to grow your business join us in the Automation Nation private Facebook group

Links Mentioned In The Show

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Barry: Hi, it's Barry Moore, back with another Tactical 20 podcast.

Announcer: Welcome to the Active Marketer podcast, where we talk about how to design, automate, and scale your business to the next level using sales and marketing automation. You can find out all the tips, tactics, and techniques you need to get more customers and sell more stuff over at Now here's your host, Barry Moore.

Barry : Hi, I'm your host Barry Moore, and this is gonna be another Tactical 20 podcast. The Tactical 20 podcasts are all about giving you an actionable tip, technique, or tactic that you can take away and implement in your business in less than 20 minutes.

All right, this week's Tactical 20 subject is gonna be all about lists. Getting lots of new people migrating across to Active Campaign, and those people in our Automation Nation private Facebook group ask a lot of questions about how you sign people up to your lists and how to structure your lists. So I thought we might do this quick Tactical 20 on how to structure your list, you list strategy when you first come over to Active Campaign.

So if you're coming across from one of the more primitive email service providers like MailChimp or AWeber, you're probably used to the concept of having to have multiple lists. We need this list for these type of people, this list for these people who have signed up for this slave magnet, this people have opted in over here, so we need to put them on a different list when they buy product A, we move them over to the product A list. So you're probably used to having multiple lists.

Then I see people come across to Active Campaign, or Entreport, or any of the kind of more marketing automation focused platforms, and they still had that multiple list mindset, and they go about creating multiple lists, basically that same list setup inside Active Campaign that they would have in something like AWeber. Now you absolutely can do that if you want to, but I really think you need to flush that multiple list paradigm from your head.

Because the way the marketing automation platforms are set up, is to be a database, not just a collection of lists. What I mean by that is everybody goes into the database, and then we separate them out by certain things: tags, or behaviours, or that sort of thing. You can actually import people into Active Campaign, and them not be on any list whatsoever, they just live in your contact database independent of any particular list.

So having said that, what's the best way to set up your list structure? Well, first of all, again there's no one right way that addresses every circumstance, but for most people what I find works the best is to have a couple of different lists. How do you know when you need a separate list? Basically I say, if you're messaging those people radically differently or significantly differently, maybe they belong on a different list. The perfect example would be customers and suppliers.

So if your business has a bunch of customers, you're talking to them with certain messaging, you're talking to them in a certain way. Your suppliers you would talk to in a completely different way, so that you're not trying to up sale and cross sale your suppliers to buy your products, you're talking about your marketing efforts, and your partnership plans, and all that other kind of stuff.

So let's focus on what most people seem to need when they first come across, is they have this concept of people who have subscribed to the list, and then people who buy from them. So if you've got 10 products, do I need to have 10 different lists, and move people between lists? Here's the thing with Active Campaign, it's a relational database, you don't need to “move” people between lists. What is suggest is a simple setup for most people, is they have two lists.

You have your main list, which includes everybody. Those people who subscribe from you, those people who have bought from you, all go on the same master list, or main list, or house list you'll sometimes hear it called as well. They way that we separate those people on that list is by giving them tags.

So I know John bought product XYZ from us, because I've given him the product XYZ tag. That tells me he's bought that particular product. So I can go back to main list, and I can say, “Show me everybody who's the product XYZ tag,” and those are only the people on my list who have bought that product. I can create what's called a “list segment,” and send out a message only to that particular segment of my list.

So everybody goes on your main list. I also suggest that you have a second list for customers, so people who have bought from you. The only reason for this is, you've got your main list, and all your marketing stuff goes out from your main list, right? So all your newsletters, your offers, your RSS feed emails, everything goes out from that main list, all your marketing material.

On your customers who have bought from you, say they bought product XYZed, and they decided they don't want your weekly newsletter anymore, they don't want your marketing material anymore, and they unsubscribe from your main list. If they're on a secondary customer list, we can continue to talk to them and send them non-marketing related messages like their invoices, or product updates, or bugs or fixes to a particular product. Non-marketing related stuff can still go to them, because they're on a separate list.

So once again, I say you should have your main list, with everyone segmented by tags, and then you create list segments for each significant segment of that list, and that's where all your marketing material goes from. Then you have a customer list, which is just for people who bought from you, and that's for non-marketing related communications. So that's the basic setup that I kind of give to everybody when they first come across, and I find that it works really, really well.

I'd love to hear how your list are set up, so if you want to head over to, for episode 34,, scroll to the bottom, leave us a comment in the notes there. Tell us how you've got your list set up, maybe you've come up with a better plan than I have. Or you can also join us over on Facebook on our Automation Nation private Facebook group. Just go to Facebook, search Automation Nation, we'll let you in and we can discuss all about how you set up lists and list segments that best fit your business.

So that's this week's Tactical 20 podcast. Appreciate you spending time with us. Tune in next week for another great interview with Ian Brody. See you next week everybody.

All right, that's our Tactical 20 podcast for this week. If you have any questions or any topics you'd like to see covered on future Tactical 20 podcasts, you can always send me an email at Barry, B-A, double R-Y, at and let us know what you'd like to see. Also, if you head over to the show notes for this episode and just leave a comment, or leave a comment in any of the episodes show notes, tell what you'd like to see and we'll make sure we cover it on an upcoming episode. So get out there and design, automate, and scale your business to the next level using sales and marketing automation. See you next week everybody.

Announcer: Thanks for listening to The Active Marketer podcast. You can find the show notes and all the latest marketing automation news over at

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