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How to segment your database using active lists in HubSpot

Image of Mike Dupuy
Mike Dupuy

Understanding your audience is one of the first steps to ensuring your marketing campaign will be successful. Good marketing campaigns target particular people, based on their demographics, behavior, and company information, and craft specific messages that will resonate with that audience.

In this post, I'll walk you through how to segment your HubSpot contacts into different groups using active lists. In addition, I'll share some of the more commonly used HubSpot properties for list segmentation.

1. Create a new list

Get started by logging into HubSpot and clicking on the Contacts dropdown menu. From there, select Lists. On the main lists page, you'll see all of your current lists, including both active and static lists, for contacts and companies. HubSpot also has a tab to filter lists that you may not need anymore if you're coming up on the list limit for your HubSpot subscription. 

Lists option in Contacts dropdown menu

At the top right, click Create list. From here, you can choose to create a list of Contacts or Companies. For this walkthrough, let's choose Contacts.

Click the Create list button to create a new list

2. The difference between active and static lists

In HubSpot, there are two types of lists you can create: an Active List or a Static List. Here's the difference between the two:

  • Active lists are lists that change over time based on the criteria you select. For example, let's say you wanted to create a list of contacts who submit a form. By choosing an active list, you'll be able to pull in all contacts who have previously submitted a form as well as those that submit a form on your site in the future.
  • Static lists are lists fixed at a single point in time. Examples where you'd want to use a static list are: a list associated with a contact import and a list of contacts who registered or attended an event. Since the event is in the past—assuming it isn't an ongoing event—a static list would be the type of list to create here.

3. Understanding the logic in building a list

For this exercise, we want to segment our audience based on our contacts' characteristics and behaviors. Select Active List.

Now's the fun part: Being able to filter your contacts so we can enroll them in a tailored marketing campaign. You'll see a list of all the available filters on the left sidebar. HubSpot includes many properties, as well as associated properties for companies and deals, for you to choose from.

When it comes to filtering, there are different types of logic you can use. For definitive things, use the condition is. I typically reserve using is logic for properties that are dropdown select options. For other properties that may not be definitive, you can use things like contains or starts with. An example where contains would be a good logic statement is if you're trying to target contacts with a certain job title. Though titles can be similar, the way contacts may write their title in forms can change. The contains function can help you identify those with a title that has "manager," "director," "vice president," "vp," etc. as well as a function like "marketing," "support," and "engineering."

As you build lists, you'll also notice that you can choose AND logic and OR logic for conditions of your list. If you select AND, the contact must meet all of the criteria that you've specified to be included in the list. If you use OR, the contact must meet one of the criteria you've specified. You can combine these statements to create something like:

Contact owner is Mike Dupuy AND Job title contains Manager AND Job title contains Marketing 

OR

Contact owner is Mike Dupuy AND Job title contains director AND Job title contains Support.

Let's test two contacts:

  • Jill S. is a contact in HubSpot with the title Sr. Marketing Manager. She is also listed with Mike Dupuy as her contact owner. Jill S. will be included in this list.
  • Rob J. is a contact in HubSpot with the title Vice President of Support. He is also listed with Mike Dupuy as his contact owner. Rob J. will not be included in this list. Though he meets the criteria for the contact owner and his job title containing support, he does not meet the third criterion that his title must also contain director.

Here is an example list I created to help me prioritize contacts that I should follow up with:

example-list-criteria

4. Choosing the filter criteria for your list

With a good understanding of the filtering criteria and logic, we can start choosing the criteria for the list. Here are some very popular criteria I use to help my clients get started:

Contact properties

  • Contact owner is...
  • HubSpot score is less than or equal to/greater than or equal to...: This helps you segment contacts based on the score attribute. You can learn more about scoring in this post on setting up a workflow for MQLs.
  • Marketing emails clicked is less than or equal to/greater than or equal to...
  • Recent sales email open date is less than/more than... days ago
  • Job title contains...
  • Original source is...: The original source is a HubSpot generated property that helps you understand where your leads come from. You can learn more about the original source property here.
  • Lead status is...
  • Lifecycle stage is...
  • Number of form submissions is less than or equal to/greater than or equal to...
  • Last sales activity date is...

Company properties

  • Industry is...
  • Annual revenue is less than or equal to/greater than or equal to...
  • Ideal Customer Profile Tier is...: If you are using account-based marketing tools in HubSpot, this would be a good one to help you segment contacts tied to your target accounts.

Page views

  • Contact has visited at least 1 URL containing...

There are tons more properties you can choose from, but hopefully this list helps you get started. Once you've built your list, you can move it to a folder to help keep your HubSpot lists organized.

Move your HubSpot list to a folder to keep it organized

Next steps

Now that you're a master at creating lists in HubSpot, it's time to start writing the content and workflows for your marketing campaign. What criteria do you find most valuable in segmenting your audience? Share them with us as a comment below.


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