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How to Use HubSpot Lists to Manage Your Contacts

One of the more useful features HubSpot offers is the ability to sort your contacts by lists. While I’ve never met a list I didn’t like, HubSpot’s lists are especially helpful because they have the ability to auto-populate based on preset criteria you choose. Your criteria could include anything from specific contact properties saved in your HubSpot portal, to links clicked in a marketing email, to the last time they’ve been contacted and more. The ability to control, filter, and manage your contacts are endless thanks to the lists feature - read on to learn how it can help you!

HubSpot offers the ability to have two different types of lists:

  • Static Lists - these lists do not constantly updated based on chosen criteria - they are a group of contacts who meet your chosen criteria at the present time only; examples of this type of list could include offline contact uploads or it could be created based on criteria that you don’t want or need to constantly update

  • Active Lists - these lists will automatically populate and update based on your chosen criteria, meaning contacts will enter and exit the list when they meet the criteria you have set; examples of this type of list could include sorting contacts based on lead status , blog subscribers, different buyer personas, and many many more.

While both types of lists are valuable, we especially find the active lists to be useful when it comes to controlling and managing your contacts and your HubSpot database.

Lists can also be used as a helpful “hack” if you are on a HubSpot tier that doesn’t offer workflows or other automation. While they can’t accomplish every automation that workflows can, active lists can be used to automatically create groups of contacts that can then be used for other actions such as email sends, sequence entries, and more.


Helpful ways you can use lists

Lists can also be used in conjunction with many other different features in your HubSpot portal.

  • Workflows: Lists can be used as an entry point for workflows or an exit point. If you’re using lists as an entry point for your workflows, you will always know who will be entering a specific workflow without having to constantly check the workflow itself. You can also further specify your workflow criteria by using list membership as one criteria and a secondary criteria to make sure the exact right people are being entered in each workflow.

    If you’re using a list as an exit point for your workflows, you have two options. First, you could have everyone exiting the workflow be entered into a static list. This list won’t update based on any other criteria except people exiting your workflow. This could be used to keep track of contacts who might need to be deleted from your portal after completing a workflow or to send a one time email blasts.

  • Email Campaigns: Lists are a great way to quickly determine who needs to receive marketing emails. You can sort your contacts into lists by any number of ways. Some of the ways we use lists for marketing campaigns are sorting by lead status to send specifically to new leads, current clients, or contacts who we’ve determined should be checked on at a later time.

    You could also create a list based on links clicked, email subscriptions, last time contacted and many other behavioral properties. These lists allow you to send specific information to the right people at the right time which will allow you to potentially close more leads and keep your current customers happy.

  • Sorting and filtering: Lists can be used internally to sort and filter out your contacts. (Contact filters can also be used for this, but if you plan on taking any sort of action based on list membership, it is easier to create this in a list).

    An example of this use case can be seen in one of our clients. We wanted to determine which of their customers were purchasing products with the intent to resell them and which were purchasing for personal use. We sent out a survey email and created lists that would populate for each category based on a link clicked in the email. While this information is useful to sort their contacts into two categories, we now also have these two groups readily available if we ever want to run a campaign based on that information.

    Another example of using lists to sort or filter your contacts is tracking referrals. We have a few different ways that we gather information for our clients on contacts who have been referred to them by other customers. We can track these contacts by which specific contact referred them or by which company referred them so those current customers can receive credit. To keep track of these referrals, we can create simple lists that will automatically update so we always have access to our customer referrals quickly.

  • Setting tasks: Lists can also be used as a way to quickly and easily add a group of specific people to a task queue. Once this group is in a task queue, you can then use that queue to schedule phone calls, set meetings, change contact properties, or enroll in a sequence (some tiers of HubSpot allow you to enroll contacts in a sequence directly from the list - if that option is not available to you, entering your contacts into a task queue and enrolling from there is a great alternative). Anytime you need to enroll a large group of people in a task based on certain criteria, use a list!

  • Data cleanup: Finally, we like to use lists to help keep your contact records clean. We actually think this is so important that we have a whole blog topic that directly discusses just this particular use case. However, the short version is that lists can be used in a sort of reverse manner to help keep your data clean. For these lists, the goal is usually to keep them empty; anyone who is a member of a data cleanup list does not have clean data and needs something to be changed to remove them from the list.

    An example of this would be us recommending to our clients that every contact has certain properties filled out such as contact owner. We would create a list with the criteria “Contact Owner Unknown” and this would be used to find every contact without that certain property so they could be taken care of. The goal of this list would be for it to constantly be empty because that would mean the data is clean.



All of these above mentioned features are not available on every tier of HubSpot; however, lists can often help even if you don’t have access to a certain feature like workflows or marketing emails by at least taking the manual work out of trying to find contacts based on certain criteria one by one. While lists may seem like a basic feature, we recommend taking full advantage of this tool and getting creative to get the most out of them, even if you don’t love a good list as much as I do.

Written by Amy Silberman

Client Success Manager