Organizing your contacts

Keeping your contact list well-organized will save you time and make it easier for you to leverage all of ActiveCampaign's features to create the best marketing and sales processes possible.

Putting some thought into how you want to organize your contacts will help you create the best structure from the beginning so you don't have to invest time into re-organizing your list later when it becomes a problem. This article will cover some of your options and give you some things to think about as you decide on how you'll manage your contacts.

Remember, there isn't a one size fits all solution and no one approach is objectively better than any other. As long as your contact list feels organized to you and makes sense to you, you are doing it right. 

List-based organization

Organizing your contacts into separate lists is a logical way to organize them. However, some companies find that they end up creating so many lists for different reasons that list-based organization becomes confusing and unmanageable.

But, if you're confident that you can organize all your contacts into a handful of lists, this is a good, straightforward option. You won't be penalized for having a contact on more than one list (one email address counts as one contact no matter how many lists that contact is on). 

Tag-based organization

Tags are a fast, flexible way to indicate the status of a contact or indicate they are part of a group. You can think of tagging like placing a contact into multiple folders.

Some people prefer to have only one list of contacts and then use tags to create groups of contacts.

We make it easy to filter your contacts by tag, and it is easy to create segments of contacts with tags, so tags are a good alternative to list-based organization.

Note that to send to subgroups of contacts when you are using tag-based organization, you'll always have to send to a segment so you'll probably create a variety of segments. In that case, you'll want to carefully name your segments so it's always clear what group of contacts is included in that segment. 

"List & tag hybrid" organization

Some companies find it useful to use lists to give a high-level structure to their contacts and then use tags to subdivide their lists into more specific groups.

For instance, you could have a “Prospects,” “Partners,” and “Customers” list and then use tags to break each list into smaller chunks. You might tag your prospects with their product interest, your partners with the relationship you have with them, and tag your customers with the product they ordered from you, for example. 

Custom fields

You can also use custom fields to organize your contacts by gathering important data and then using that data to create segments. For instance, you may have a custom field that indicates which of your products they are interested in. You could put that custom field on a form so that people send you that information when they opt-in. You could create a segment out of each of the three choices and then send targeted campaigns to each segment.

For more information on how to use custom fields, see its help doc

Creating list segments

No matter how you choose to organize your contacts, you'll want to create segments so that you can send email campaigns to subgroups of your lists. This way you can send to only the contacts who would be interested in that particular message. Sending very targeted email campaigns has a variety of benefits. When your contacts only receive messages that are very relevant to them, they'll be more likely to pay attention to your campaigns. This will create a positive feedback loop where your campaigns are opened more, receive more clicks, this may help your deliverability, will certainly strengthen your relationship with your contacts, and will likely result in more sales.

To create a list segment:

Navigate to the Contact Overview page by clicking “Contacts” in the top menu.

Above your contact list you'll see a search box:



Click into the search box. A new option will appear “Advanced Search.” Click “Advanced Search” to display the segment builder.



Use the segment builder to create the conditions that define your segment. Choose a segment option category and then define the specifics of the condition. For example, you might create a condition that looks for whether a certain campaign has been opened or a certain tag exists.

Keep in mind that our segment builder is extremely robust so you can combine multiple conditions using And and Or logic to find the exact group of contacts you are looking for.

To check your segment, click “Search.” This will display all the contacts that match your conditions. If it looks right, click back into the search box. This will display an option to “Save As Segment:”


Click “Save As Segment” to create the segment. The next time you go to send a campaign, this segment can be selected from the segment dropdown menu.

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