Tips, Tricks & Best Practices


How to use Contact Lists effectively and efficientlly?

I am currently auditing a client's Lists and proposing some best practices and organization structure to help them keep their portal clean, useful, and efficient.


The bulk of their current lists (not many, about 160) have been created for either:

  • Sending an email
  • Testing something
  • Produced by an email or workflow

As I have started my audit and am making suggestions, and doing research to how others think about this, it brings up some questions, in particular, how long should we keep a list for an email send? It is somewhat useful, and probably has an expiration date. The other list types can definitely be killed.


I have proposed the following categories, but am really curious about how other people think about lists?


My suggested approach:

Lists should be seen as building blocks. You want to have as many as necessary, and as few as possible. Too many lists, especially active lists, in addition to providing clutter, can actually start to slow your portal eventually.


Lists should primarily be used for:

  • Understanding how many contacts meet a certain criteria and displaying additional data for each record
  • Building a segment of contacts to send an email (or drip or other  campaign) to (using combined lists or lists to exclude contacts)
  • Building reports based on list membership
  • Triggering a workflow or filtering a workflow based on list membership
  • Cleaning data, updating data, importing data, and keeping track of data changes




Marketing Status

Segment by marketing subscriptions and preferences and who you want to exclude from communication

Engagement Status

Segment by recency of engagement

Lead Status

Segment by contact status

Contact Types

Segment by contact type


Segment by market

Renter Lists

Segment by key renter criteria

Homeowner Lists

Segment by key homeowner criteria


Track imports into the database


Build segments for email and drip campaigns, and other types, and track engagement

Form Submissions

Segment by form submission

Data Hygiene & Updates

Clean data, update data, and keep track of data changes


“Sandbox” for building lists

User Specific (for each user)

Users can create their own lists and keep track of them

3 Replies 3
Recognized Expert | Partner
Recognized Expert | Partner

How to use Contact Lists effectively and efficientlly?

Hey @bmsfox , thanks for sharing! 


You definitely need to check out/share your thoughts in this awesome AMA on HubSpot lists from @franksteiner79!


There are a bunch of awesome insights there around best practices, when to use lists, when not to use lists, you name it! The general consensus aligns with your thoughts — lists have a bunch of important, often underutilized uses, but, like anything else, having too many of them does more harm than good.


Are you able to share a bit more about the HubSpot portal slowdowns you've seen from excessive amounts of lists? I have a couple Enterprise clients whose accounts load a bit slower, and I've love to hear if clearing out some lists could help speed things up a bit. 


Thanks again!

Jacob Olle

Marketing Operations Manager

HubSpot Certified Trainer

Create Your Own Free Signature

How to use Contact Lists effectively and efficientlly?

That's a great post, thank you!

My client is a very small business, for context they have 9 regular users and around 6,000 contacts on Professional Edition, and only around 160 lists, most of which are Active Lists. Sometimes Lists and Reports do load slowly but I can't imagine this quantity of Lists is affecting that, I have just read that it could. I would report back after cleanup, but I think we will actually end up with more lists when it is all said and done, but with more utility.

Key Advisor

How to use Contact Lists effectively and efficientlly?

Hi @bmsfox 


6,000 contacts und 160 list aren't numbers at which I have seen sluggish performance, if we were talking about 6,000,000 contacts and 10,000 lists it would be a different story.


Having said that, one thing I have seen impact load times is "complex" and nested lists. By that I mean lists that have multiple AND/OR rules, or lists that reference lists which reference lists.




Found my comment helpful? Great! Please mark it as a solution to help other community users.

Frank Steiner

Marketeer | HubSpot Expert | CRM Consultant


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