How to Segment a Contact Database Using HubSpot Lists

How to Segment a Contact Database Using HubSpot Lists

By Matt NagelDec 29 /2016

segment-contact-database.jpgThe value you glean from your contact databases will depend on how well you segment them.

According to Help Scout, almost nine out of 10 U.S. consumers say they would pay more to ensure a superior customer experience.

And you can’t offer a personalized, excellent customer experience without sending the right message to the right people at the right time. You must be timely and relevant. And that’s an uphill battle unless you know exactly where your leads are in the sales funnel.

You have contact databases. But are they organized into meaningful segments? Do the people in individual databases have anything in common besides the fact their data lives in the same spreadsheet on your computer?

If you answered “no,” then you could be missing out on profitable opportunities. Let’s explore how you can efficiently and effectively segment a contact database using HubSpot lists.

You Can Pre-Segment Your Leads & Customers Before Importing Them

Although you can gather all your CSV spreadsheets and import them into HubSpot directly, it’s a good idea to segment them before you do so. That way, your contacts will be organized into meaningful groups the moment they are imported.

And if you find yourself needing to import additional lists later, you’ll have more flexibility for segmentation.

Preparing Your CSV Spreadsheets

Importing your contacts into HubSpot is straightforward. But if you’re not sure where to start, follow these steps to prepare your spreadsheets.

  1. Open your favorite spreadsheet software (such as Excel, Calc or Google Sheets).
  2. Create columns for contact properties. HubSpot comes with a standard set of contact properties (such as first name, name, email, address and so on) that you’ll want to map to individual columns. Use the top row for your column headers, and ensure the column headers are the same as those in your CRM. Note: You can also create custom properties, which makes it easier to section off your contacts.
  3. Type relevant user data into each column.

That’s all you’ll need to do to prepare your contacts for import. But what about segmentation via lists?

Fortunately, you can add more columns to your spreadsheet, which allows you to assign contacts to dynamic smart lists. The more information you can add to your spreadsheets, the better, as this will make it easier for you to group contacts into meaningful segments later.

Remember to save your spreadsheets as CSV files, as some programs will not save to this format by default.

Things to Watch

As with any software, HubSpot has its idiosyncrasies. Knowing the following may help you time:

  • If you’re mass importing contacts, it’s important to remember HubSpot matches to existing contacts in your system by email address, thus making email an important column to have on your lists to avoid duplicate contacts.
  • Use a “HubSpot Owner” column in your spreadsheet if you want to assign an owner to contacts.
  • Use a “Lifecycle Stage” column to designate where a contact is in your funnel.
  • Do you have the “Automatically create and associate companies with contacts” setting turned on? If so, HubSpot will match up contact email addresses with company records (based on email address domain). Turn this setting off if you don’t want this to happen.

Import Your Contacts

The hard part is done. Now that you’ve laid the groundwork for proper segmentation, you’re ready to import your CSV files.

HubSpot explains this in detail on its website, but here’s a basic overview of the steps:

  1. Go to Contacts > All Contacts or Contacts > Lists. Then, click on the Import button.
  2. Click the “Import Contacts” button.
  3. Find the CSV file you want to import on your hard drive and click “Upload.”

At this point, you can name your contact list, and you’re done. But if you’d like to add additional details, you can switch to the advanced view to specify lifecycle stage, format for date properties, and so on.

Create Your Lists

HubSpot offers the ability to create two different kinds of lists—smart lists and static lists. Static lists allow for manual editing and organization. Smart lists refresh automatically. They add new contacts based on the criteria you specify, and will also remove contacts that no longer fit your specifications.

HubSpot says static lists are often used for one-time email campaigns, or for manually grouping contacts who do not share anything in common.

A smart list is often used for segmented email campaigns, outbound calls, lifecycle stage contact analysis, and so on. Smart lists are ideal for ongoing campaigns and communication.

Here’s what you’ll need to do to create your lists:

  1. Go to Contacts > Lists.
  2. Click on the blue button that reads “New list.”
  3. You’ll be prompted to filter contacts by properties. For instance, use the “Form Submission” property if you’d like to create a list of contacts who have filled out a form on your website.
  4. Use the filters (dropdown menu, text field and radio buttons) to select your criteria for the list.
  5. Click “Name list” and save it as a smart or static list.

Customize Customer Experience and Boost Your Marketing

You now know the basics of segmenting your contact databases into lists and importing them into HubSpot.

If you’re still asking yourself why you’d want to do this, consider this statistic via Digital Trends:

73 percent of consumers surveyed said they prefer to do business with retailers who use personal information to make their shopping experience more relevant.

Customers today expect a tailored experience, and you’ll be better equipped to deliver it if you’re organizing your lists strategically.Effective Lead Generation and Lead Management Strategy eBook

Matt Nagel
The Author

Matt Nagel

Matt uses marketing automation and data insights to help nurture leads into customers and deliver an overall optimized buyer experience. He has extensive professional experience developing, executing, and analyzing marketing processes and campaigns. Matt organizes and leverages client tech stacks to reduce friction and ensure the highest ROI is realized.