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4 tips to managing your Hubspot lists

The lifeblood of marketing automation lies in lists. Hubspot lists allow you to create both static and dynamic segmentations of contacts. Common reasons to create these lists is to group folks by engagement level, campaign membership, title/persona, field-based segmentation, etc.

While these lists are powerful, given their usefulness, you might quickly begin to see your marketing automation platform like Hubspot, Marketo, or Pardot become overwhelmed with unrecognizable or unnecessary lists.

Here’s 4 tips to be a list ninja.

Know when not to create a list

Seems contradictory to start this a list clean-up article by saying “don’t make lists” but sometimes it’s true. As you become more and more familiar with your marketing automation platform, you’ll start to realize it has built-in powers that can prevent you from create lists.

For example, say you sent out a huge email campaign to 10,000 contacts and 2,000 of them engaged in what you define as an adequate manner. You might want to split the campaign into two additional email pushes: a continuation for those who engaged and a subject line change of email #1 for those who didn’t.

You might end up with 3 lists:

  • Original campaign list
  • Static list of engaged contacts
  • Static list of unengaged contacts

However, leveraging Hubspot’s built-in ability to exclude contacts/lists from a send, you can limit your list work by a factor of one. This is how we’d do it:

An example of using exclusion lists to limit the number of lists you need to create

Naming conventions

Now say a list being created is, in fact, merited. It’s important to stay consistent across your team on how you identify your lists. Consider the frequency, campaigns, and types of lists you create and built a formula. Here’s ours:

{[TEMP]} {Campaign} {Applicable date if any} – {Segmentation} ({Meta})

So in practices, our lists look like this:

  • User Conference 2019 – Responded to survey
  • Blog – Subscribers (Interest: marketing)
  • [TEMP] Big Initiative 050119 – Submitted form (is_SQL, and lead_score > 50)


Pretty straight forward: as you grow to dozens (if not hundreds or thousands) of lists over the years, folders start to make a lot of sense. Here’s how we structure ours:

  • Campaigns
    • Campaign A
    • Campaign B
    • Campaign C
  • Temporary (read more on this below)
  • Personas (lists to group contacts by type of buyer)
  • Behaviors (lists to group contacts by actions taken)

Unused lists

At the time of writing (updated in September, 2019), Hubspot has a feature in beta called “Unused lists”. If you haven’t been offered the beta or haven’t opted into it, it looks like this:

As the callout implies, this list is populated by gathering stale lists that haven’t been used in any email/workflow tools inside the Hubspot platform. It makes a lot of sense to review these lists on a regular cadence and discard any that may no longer be providing your team value.

In the same vein, here’s a last minute bonus tip on temporary lists. You might have seen earlier, we use “TEMP” in our naming convention and a temporary folder to callout what we consider temporary lists. For us, temporary lists are lists that provide value in the moment but once that value has been provided are no longer needed. A huge use case for our team is providing quick lists of people who have engaged in certain campaigns. It’s a great way for our clients to quickly access important metrics without having to dive around Hubspot.