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A guide to organizing your contact lists in HubSpot

4 min.
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If you're a marketer, you're likely creating lists, emails, and workflows on a daily basis. While it may be easy for you to find things now, ask yourself this: Will this same process work when we have five people creating lists?

Organizing your lists and emails isn't just a nice way to keep your thoughts and campaigns organized, but it will help any new team members, agencies, partners, or consultants you bring on quickly get up to speed with your marketing operations. It'll also help you reduce the number of duplicate lists, emails, and workflows you have.

This post shows some common nomenclature techniques to help you organize your contact lists in a future-proof, easy-to-understand way.

Folders and subfolders

To keep things simple, let's start by creating a few folders:

  • Campaigns
  • Lifecycle Stages
  • Lead Statuses
  • Do not email

As you look to segment your contacts further, you may also include folders like RegionsJob TitlesWebsite ActivityForm Submissions, etc.

Campaigns

The Campaigns folder will contain all lists that are related to some sort of marketing campaign. For example, we'll put event attendee lists and our marketing email target lists in here. 

In the Campaigns folder, you can also create subfolders to separate your campaign by channel (e.g. Emails, Events, Paid Search).

Lifecycle Stages

The Lifecycle Stages folder is used for dividing up your database by where in the buying journey your contacts sit.

Here are examples of the lists you'd have in the lifecycle stages folder:

  • Lifecycle stage: Subscriber
  • Lifecycle stage: Lead
  • Lifecycle stage: Marketing Qualified Lead
  • Lifecycle stage: Sales Qualified Lead
  • Lifecycle stage: Opportunity
  • Lifecycle stage: Customer
  • Lifecycle stage: Evangelist
  • Lifecycle stage: Unknown

You'll want to ensure the Lifecycle stage: Unknown list is always empty.

Lead Statuses

The Lead Status property is generally used to indicate where the contact is in the sales follow up process. Lists in this folder would include:

  • Lead status: Open
  • Lead status: Working
  • Lead status: Closed
  • Lead status: Unqualified

Do not email

Depending on your email campaigns, you may want to exclude certain contacts from receiving particular emails. Here's where you can store those lists, as well as those who are unengaged or unsubscribed. Some lists to include here are:

  • Competitors
  • Employees and Contractors
  • Unsubscribed
  • Unengaged

General naming conventions

Now that we have our folders set up, let's look at ways we can name the individual lists that would go in those folders. In general, you want your naming convention to do two things: 

  1. Make it easy for someone to understand what the list is.
  2. Make it easy to find when someone runs a global search. 

To accomplish those goals, try to avoid vague language and complex codes or abbreviations. Some marketing tools may not support spaces or special characters, so codes may be necessary. In that case, make sure you have a quick way for someone to understand what the code means (e.g. WB may be short for "webinar" and TS may be short for "trade show"). 

For lists that are related to a campaign or event at a particular time, include the date at the beginning of the list name: YYYY-MM(-DD if you want to be very specific).

Example 1: Lists for a webinar

Here are a few lists I'd build for a webinar we're hosting in November 2021. These lists would be stored in the Campaigns folder. 

The nomenclature for these lists follows the format YYYY-MM Webinar - [Name]: [Status]

  1. 2021-11 Webinar - Creating Lists in HubSpot: Invitees
  2. 2021-11 Webinar - Creating Lists in HubSpot: Registrants
  3. 2021-11 Webinar - Creating Lists in HubSpot: Attendees

This makes it easy to find attendees of any events we held. You just need to search "attendees."

Example 2: Lists for an email campaign

Here are examples of lists that you may create when segmenting your contacts for emails. These lists would be stored in the Campaigns folder. 

The list names here follow the format YYYY-MM Email - [Campaign Name] - [Audience] - [Goal/CTA/Content]. The [Goal/CTA/Content] refers to the overall action you'd like the contact to take (e.g. register for an event, read a blog post, etc.) or the content you're sending to that list.

  1. 2021-11 Email - Organizing HubSpot Lists - All Subscribers: Blog Post
  2. 2021-11 Email - Organizing HubSpot Lists - All Contacts: Tutorial Video

Hopefully this gives you a good idea for how you can start organizing your lists in HubSpot. Trust us, it's never too early to start doing this!

Do you have a format that works well for you or your team? Please let us know by posting a comment and we'd love to include it in an update to this post.

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