Episode 10: Segmentation Series Part 4 – Lists

How to use Lists is the focus of our milestone tenth episode.


Lists allow for segmentation at the broadest possible level. Not sure what that means? Don’t worry. Director of Education Chris Davis is here to fill you in. Our tenth episode continues with the segmentation theme, this time defining lists and discussing how to best use them in ActiveCampaign.
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Chris Davis: All right, all right. Welcome to the final episode of [00:00:30] The Segmentation series. This series started about three weeks ago. We’ve been doing one a week and it started with an overview. I just kind of gave you an overview of the purpose of segmentation and the goal which is scaling personalization. Then we went into the specific strategies and I provided frameworks for each. One of the strategies was using tags, the next was using custom fields, and finally we have this episode [00:01:00] where we’re talking about lists. Yes, lists. Man, when you say it slow, it sounds weird, but this is a very confusing and highly sought after idea about how to properly use them and it’s source is from most people, most businesses, they start out in [00:01:30] email marketing. That’s their gateway. That’s the gateway into marketing automation. It’s often email marketing, and with email marketing, it’s all list base. Okay. You don’t necessarily have a contact database, you have lists and contacts reside on those lists and a contact cannot exist in your email marketing platform without existing on a list. [00:02:00] You were required to have the email address. That was the unique identifier and mandatory to do any form of email marketing.
Well, that becomes a little less clear when you move into marketing automation and you introduce a CRM, because with the CRM, you don’t need to exist on a list because my means of communicating with [00:02:30] you may not be purely email. It may be via direct mail, it may be via phone call, so maybe I need your address and phone number but could really care less about your email address upfront. As the needs changed, so did the necessity to learn how to use lists effectively. With a little bit of backstory defined now that you understand, most people [00:03:00] when they move into marketing automation, they come in with that list mentality because that was their only means of segmenting. That was their only means of grouping people based on what they downloaded or what action they’ve taken on their website and it’s not uncommon to log into anybody’s email marketing platform, who’s been using it for some years, and see upwards to 50 lists, 50 or plus.
The idea of having multiple lists is not scary or wrong to them, per [00:03:30] se. However, that approach can be very detrimental. Hence, now when you look out in the space when you’re in some of these Facebook groups or on a lot of these websites and people are asking, they’re just trying to figure out, should I use lists to segment my contacts or should I use tags? Which approach is the best? That’s why I’m so glad to be the voice of reasoning in this space and I will [00:04:00] tell you I have vacillated personally, I have vacillated between saying, “You know what, don’t use any lists, just use one and use tags and custom fields for everything,” and then I’ve listened to other marketers’ perspective who were using lists in a more heavy manner and I said, “You know what, I can see that. I can see using multiple lists in this [inaudible 00:04:23] way.”
I’ve found, let’s remove me, and what does ActiveCampaign [00:04:30] say and I got the chance to sit down with Kelly, a head of success, as well as numerous success team members and I asked them the exact question and I challenged them. In fact, we had a meeting at ActiveCampaign where I had an entire presentation created to defunct any person who said we should [00:05:00] be using lists a particular way. It was a presentation. It was meant to ruffle some feathers and it did. We were in this room. We were arguing back and forth and finally we found common ground. We found common ground on the best approach that we can give you all with using lists. We pulled some teeth. We did all the dirty work for you and I’ve polished it up in a way that I hope is [00:05:30] very easy for you to digest and implement in your business so that’s what today’s episode is going to be all about. I want to provide you with the safest framework in which you can build upon. This framework you can implement it in any business and take it in whatever direction your business needs it to go.
Some of you I will say you may find at the end of this podcast, okay, [00:06:00] I’m going to need at least x amount of lists. Others may say, you know what, I’m so glad I didn’t use multiple lists. I’m doing it the right way. We want to give you an idea of why lists exist in ActiveCampaign and the best way to use them because it’s not like all of your other email marketing platforms that you’ve been used to.
In that vein, let’s start from the top and remember, in review, as we [00:06:30] have this upside-down funnel sliced into three pieces, the topmost broadest means of segmenting is lists and when we’re talking about lists … When I say the broadest, people who exist in lists, they will have more in common. They will have a lot in common. If I had a list for let’s just say visitors to [00:07:00] my website and buyers on my website, those visitors, that list is going to be as broad as pos- … This is going to include males, females, people who bought product A, people who bought product B, or looked at product A, looked at product B, people who necessarily didn’t just walk through. That list is broad is what I’m trying to say. Lists by nature are intended to represent [00:07:30] a broad spectrum of contacts that have mainly one thing in common and that’s an interest. Let me say that again. Lists are the broadest means of segmentation and the contacts that exists within them usually share one interest, one main interest, and within that interest, there are subgroups or subinterests and the way [00:08:00] that we target those subinterests are with tags and custom fields.
Now that we have that lay, we know that these are broad interests that our lists are representing. With that, the first means of segmentation that we can safely and confidently provide to you is the segmentation of prospect and customer. [00:08:30] What is a prospect’s interest? Your website. Your business is their general interest. What is a customer’s general interest? They purchased a product. A lot of you, honestly, that’s all you need. All you need is that line drawn that says hey, when someone buys a product, I want to take them off of my prospect list [00:09:00] and move them onto my customer list. For a lot of businesses that we know, mainly consultants or coaches, authors, or whatnot, this is very much enough for them. They’re like, “Hey, I just keep my customers different from my prospects so I can talk to them easily differently.” [00:09:30] That’s the first means of lists.
Let me back up a bit because I did not tell you why lists exist in ActiveCampaign. Lists, they’ve evolved. Anybody who’s been a user for over two years now has seen initially lists are where you determined whether it was single opt-in or double opt-in. [00:10:00] Any of you remember that, just virtually raise your hand, blink whenever you’re at, nod. If you remember that, going to the list and setting up whether you want a confirmation email to go out or not, well we’ve since then moved from there and that ability, the double opt-in or confirmed opt-in ability now resides in forms only and here’s the reason behind that. A lot of times in email marketing platforms, if people were added via API [00:10:30] and they were added to a list and that list was configured to have a double opt-in, even if they received permission from another platform, so let’s say PayPal or something. Somebody purchased something on PayPal and you’re adding them to a customer list and PayPal is sending them the receipt, the invoice, and then they get a confirmation that says confirm your email after they purchased. Very rough. That is a very [00:11:00] rough process.
Now what we’ve done is we removed opt-in from the list level and put it to the form level so now leads can be integrated and dumped onto a list without having to require them to double opt-in. This is very effective for, let’s say, webinars. If somebody’s registering for a webinar using a platform like WebinarJam, GoToWebinar, you name the platform [00:11:30] and that platform is integrated with ActiveCampaign at a list level, when someone registers and they’re added to the list, the last thing you want is for them to be sent a confirmation email that they have to click. I mean, you’re going to kill your attendance rate. What we’ve allowed you to do if say hey, since somebody filling out a form is the primary means of somebody [00:12:00] being added to your account, we now have double opt-in at the form level so now it’s no longer at the list level. You can see the first differentiation between us and other email marketing platforms. People can exist on lists in ActiveCampaign without having to double opt-in.
The second thing about our usage is that you’ll see that every list also [00:12:30] has the ability to add a different address and business name. This means that if you run two websites or perhaps two companies that are similar under one umbrella, you can separate the contacts per web [inaudible 00:12:50] we’ll say. Let’s just keep it at website for now because that’s easy to understand and comprehend. Let’s say you have two websites. You have a website [00:13:00] where you’re selling clothing and a website where you just kind of do personal blogging. You’re the owner of both. You can now use ActiveCampaign and have a dedicated list within ActiveCampaign for each website so that when people receive communication and email from you, the footer that is required from the CAN-SPAM Act at the bottom that says the address and the name of the company, it will be the respective company to [00:13:30] which website they opted-in on.
Those are two core fundamental differences that you’ll see in our lists and how they’re created and how they operate from everybody else. Knowing that, now it makes sense why I said lists are broad segmentations. A website is a broad segmentation. Everybody on my website. Now if I want to see everybody on my website and people who have [00:14:00] visited this page, now I can start using tags and custom fields. You see what I’m saying? Now we’ve got this broad level of segmentation that helps us create our first big groups and remember, these groups are based on general interests, not specific interests, general interests. I’m giving you how to use lists as we have created them and expect you to use them to get the best out of them. This is not restrictive. [00:14:30] This is educational so you understand why they exist and once you understand why and how, a lot of the questions you have on whether you should use lists or not will be answered.
Broad general interests are how our lists are split up or how you should be using your lists. That first means is prospects and customers as I mentioned. Now, if you do have prospects and customers, [00:15:00] you very well, like I said, that may be enough but some of you may need more so what is the rule of thumb that we use internally that you can take and implement in your business? This is straight from the mouth of Kelly O’Connell. The exact terminology she uses … She tells us this. Lists are for message types. If I could put [00:15:30] air quotes right there. I just harnessed my inner Kelly. Lists are for message types. Those message types can be within the prospect lists or within your customer list. Now you can have sublists. Remember, these are still going to be general in nature so don’t try to create lists that are super targeted because you will definitely be cutting out more work for yourself [00:16:00] when it comes to maintaining and tracking than it’s worth and we’ll get to that at my last point.
Now let’s talk about these sublists I’ll call them. If somebody’s a prospect, that’s their general interest. However, now adding in these message types, perhaps you have a newsletter for prospects. Perhaps you have events that you send out, live events that people can attend to and when someone opts-in [00:16:30] to your newsletter, they’re placed on the newsletter list. Now maybe they’ve opted-in to hear about events too. Now they’re on your events list. They’re still in the prospect category but now instead of having one main prospect list, we have these sublists that collectively represent all prospects. Newsletters plus events [00:17:00] equals all of my prospects. You got it?
Let’s flip over to the customer side. What if I wanted to speak differently to people based on the product they buy? Maybe I want to send different type of communication to someone who’s bought men’s products than someone who’s bought women’s products. I could then have a list for product A which is for men [00:17:30] and product B which is for women. Now product A list plus product B list equals my entire customer database. There’s two things we can do. There’s a graphic that will help you visualize this in the show notes at the bottom of this episode which will be at activecampaign.com/podcast, [00:18:00] episode-10. All of the show notes, any resources that I mentioned, you can find them there, but we have a guide, it’s a beginner’s guide to lists and I have this graphic where there’s prospect, customers, and then there’s a line between the two, and then you have the newsletter and events under prospects and product A, product B under customers.
Essentially what happens is, you can either do the approach where I said you have four lists where you have newsletters and events and then whenever [00:18:30] you want to email all your prospects, you just select newsletter, list, and event list and mail it to all prospects. The same with customers where you have product A and product B. When you want to send email communication to all customers, in our list selector, when you go to send a campaign, you can select product A, product B, or the third option is you could have six lists. You could actually have a list called prospects and when someone opts-in for your newsletter, not only are they [00:19:00] opted-in to that list, that subscribe to the newsletter list, but you have an automation that also subscribes them to the prospect list. The same for the product. They can purchase product A and they’re subscribed to product A list automatically and then within that automation, you say subscribe to all customer list.
In doing that, I just gave you two methods of managing lists. One is whatever they opt-in for is all you add them to, so if I opt-in the newsletter, [00:19:30] just put me on the newsletter list. If I purchased a product A, just put me on the product A list. The second one is we’ll say assumed action. Since you opted-in for my newsletter, I’m going to assume that you need to go to my entire prospect list. I shouldn’t say assume. I should say inherent. [00:20:00] Them taking one action is actually behind the scenes doing two actions so yes, they signed up for your newsletter but now they’re on your newsletter and your prospect lists. Yes, they purchased a product but they’re on your product list and customer list. This can go on. If you’ve got ten products, maybe you say, “Hey, if they’ve subscribed to one [00:20:30] product list, I want to subscribe them to all the lists so they can hear about all of my products and if they don’t want to hear about my product, they can just unsubscribe from the list.”
The biggest point I’ve heard made in this idea of using multiple lists is managing opt-outs. I like to keep my lists broad and [00:21:00] general as do we at ActiveCampaign keep them broad and general, two message types, so if you do not want to receive newsletter communication, you should be able to opt-out of my newsletter list and you will no longer receive that. However, if you exist on other lists, you should still be able to receive that information, that communication, and that’s where a lot of people get nervous with lists because they’re saying, “Okay, I hear you [00:21:30] saying prospects and customers but if somebody’s on my customer list and I’ve got multiple products and they don’t want to hear about one product but I want to tell them about all my other products and I only have one list, when they opt-out once, they’re gone for good.” Valid point. I’m not going to argue that point. If that is truly a concern in your business, then you’re going to want to use a customer list with lists [00:22:00] per product and if you’ve got 20 products, you’re going to have 20 lists.
This is truly up to you. This falls under two message types. Maybe you don’t need 20 lists because maybe five of those products are shoes and you could just have a shoe list that represents all of your shoes because the risk that you run when someone doesn’t directly opt-in to a specific [00:22:30] list is that in their mind, they opted into one thing and behind the curtains in your business, you’ve opted them in to three or four. When they go to opt-out, they’re thinking all they need to do is opt-out once when in reality, they opt-out once, they’re still going to get communication from the other three lists we’ll say.
Now do you know what realm we’re crossing into? Now we’re crossing into spam because [00:23:00] all I know as a user is I opted into one list and then when I opted off that list, I’m still getting communication. This is how your contacts think. They think on a very basic level. They’re customers. They’re not deep consultants and logic people who set up your automation so if they say, “Hey, don’t send me any more communication,” and they get communication about something else that’s related to what they opted in for, you can very well get [00:23:30] that be a spam complaint and your deliverability take a hit. Whereas if you’re using multiple lists and they can’t get on any other list except for if they opt-in to that specific list, now you have permission. They’ve essentially given you permission to email me about these two, three, four things. That’s how lists work and if you’re going to use them, use them for [00:24:00] general interests and message types. General interest, prospect, and customers. Message types, newsletters, events, products. You get what I’m saying?
Let me pull back the curtains here at ActiveCampaign. In the main account that we all have access to, [00:24:30] we have multiple lists. The list of lists is long and it has to be. This is why, because there are so many departments that use the same account and what we need to do … For instance, in our account, there’s an education list. That’s my list for the education center, activecampaign.com/learn. That’s how you get to the education center so anybody that goes there and opts-in to receive updates [00:25:00] is on my list. I manage that. I send to that list only so if we didn’t have multiple lists, when it came to send out that email, it’s just an extra step and room for human error for me to create my segment within a master list, for me to target my segment. It’s a lot easier when multiple people or multiple message types are going out of one account [00:25:30] to categorize them at a very broad level with lists.
Now, within education I have people who like my podcasts, who like the content and within the content, there’s certain types of content that they like. Now for that, I’m going to use tags and custom fields and that’s where the automation takes place and we start getting a lot more dynamic and targeted with our marketing but we are a company that uses multiple lists because there’s [00:26:00] multiple department types that send different message types so you have to decide what the message types are in your business and if you have no more than three, then I would argue you shouldn’t be using any more than three lists.
Don’t be afraid to use tags and custom fields as your means of segmenting and sending targeted information [00:26:30] because remember this, the classic email marketers, the people who were first in the game, you hear them, they’re always worried about unsubscribe. I can’t even say the classic. Most marketers online are worried about unsubscribes and it’s not until you start talking to more savvy users and more experienced digital marketers that they’re not afraid of unsubscribes. Why? Why should you not be afraid of [00:27:00] unsubscribes? Because an unsubscribe, I take it as I was once interested and I’m no longer interested right now. Key word, right now. Most people are like, well, if you’re not interested right now, please stay on my list and just get communication once a month. Nothing wrong with that but a lot of the people do leave. Why? Because as a marketer, you’re using multiple channels for lead generation anyway [00:27:30] so at any point in the future, if they see an add on Facebook or Google AdWords or a sponsored post or a guest article that you created or an event that pops up or they have seen you speak live, multiple ways, they can then say, “You know what, I’m interested again.”
Have faith in your marketing. Have faith in your ability to get your messaging and make your value proposition out consistently and be known so that [00:28:00] when someone opts out, it’s not a period, it’s just a comma. It’s not, “Hey, I’m done forever.” People will come back. People go through seasons in business, in they’re learning journey, in marketing journey, and right now maybe they’re just not interested in what you have to say and then their business grows or their business changes, and you’re doing your job, being consistent, and they see an ad and they’re like, “Oh, you know what, I forgot. Yeah, yeah, that applies to me now.” They can always [00:28:30] opt back in but don’t hold anybody hostage. If people want to unsubscribe, make it easy and one of the tools that you can use if you’re using multiple list types, you want to use our unsubscribe option which is default in all of the emails that go outside of ActiveCampaign but there’s also an unsubscribe all functionality. In the personalization tags, you can use unsubscribe all as a link and if someone clicks that link, they [00:29:00] will be removed from all communication so every list that they’re on.
I recommend if you’re using multiple lists like that and people can be on a list that they maybe directly did not opt-in for, make sure you add some language to the footer that says if you no longer want to receive any information about any products from our company use this link here, unsubscribe all, and then let them know, be careful, once you hit this link you will receive no communications, no promotions, no updates, no [00:29:30] offers, no anything. We have to be responsible marketers. Being a responsible marketer in ActiveCampaign is going to reward you greatly and it always pays off. Trust me. It always pays off.
I hope that was clear. I hope that gives you some understanding of how to use lists, how to use tags, and how to use custom [00:30:00] fields in your journey to scale personalization because you need all of them. One is no greater than the other. They all hold their own weight when used accordingly. Use them accordingly. You now know every tool at your disposal to scale your personalization and really make the experience, the customer journey in your business very personal and effective. I [00:30:30] will admit we did not touch on one other feature. This is going to be later. In our later podcasts, I’m actually going to have somebody on and we’re going to talk about lead scoring because that’s the last means of segmentation I’ll say and it’s a very specific but very powerful how we do lead scoring so don’t worry. I didn’t forget it but the main means are going to be lists, tags, and custom fields.
Like I said, in a future episode, we’re going to have somebody on that’s going to go over strategies [00:31:00] for using lead scoring for even more targeted and advanced segmentation. That’s The Segmentation series. Thank you so much for listening to each one. If this is your first one, subscribe, go back, and get the other three. You may need to listen to these a few times and don’t hesitate to leave us a comment. Go to the education center, activecampaign.com/learn, [00:31:30] and leave comments. I’m active in the comment area. Me and everybody else on the team, we’re here to help. Hit us up on Twitter, whatever it is but just make sure we’re responsible with our marketing and we are using the tools effectively in the purpose in which they were created and intended for you all to use them for your business success. All right. I’m out.
Speaker 3:If you enjoyed this series on segmentation, [00:32:00] make sure you’re subscribed to the ActiveCampaign podcast because there’s more like this to come. We’re available in iTunes, Goggle Play, Stitcher Radio, and a plethora of podcasting applications for both mobile and desktop. Please, if you’re enjoying this content, leave us a five star rating in iTunes. Drop us some comments. Let us know how we’re doing. We’re human. [00:32:30] We need to know. We love that feedback so that we can gauge better what content we should be talking about, what content we should be creating in the future podcasting episodes. Remember, this is the ActiveCampaign podcast, the small business podcast to help you propel and scale your business with marketing automation. I’ll see you on the next episode.