3 Ways to Segment Your Contacts in ActiveCampaign

3 ways to segment your contacts in ActiveCampaign

A lot has been written about using demographics, buyer’s behaviour, or funnel mapping to segment an email list. Little has been written about the tools you can use to put these strategies into place.

In this article, I give you three ways to segment your contacts in ActiveCampaign.

What is segmentation?

In email marketing, segmentation is a strategy that helps you identify groups of contacts who share something in common. That something in common could be gender, age group, location, or a type of service or product they have previously purchased.

Each of these groups can then be sent emails with different messages depending on which segment they fall into.

For example, an insurance broker might segment based on age, type of insurance, or suburb.
An email marketing campaign can be sent targeting homeowners and promoting home and contents insurance. Another to people under 25 who have vehicle insurance.

Email marketing segmentation is emailing to targeted groups of contacts.

Why segment your contacts

Because people are different. No two people are ever the same.

Imagine you’re a fashion retailer. You sell clothing that is female and male-oriented as well as for children and adults. Your range is targeted at different age groups and you sell shoes.

It’s coming up to Christmas and you want to promote Christmas sales. You could, like many do, just tell everyone that you have fashion items to suit everyone. One message for everyone.

A single male gets a message that tells them about women’s and children’s fashion. An older couple sees a message that tells them about clothing for younger people.

Now imagine your competitor down the mall sells similar items but instead of sending one message, they send messages targeted to specific segments.

Mums are sent a promotion for women’s and children’s clothes. Males are sent promotions for men’s fashion items. Young people get to know about the latest fashions for their age group and so it goes on.

Because each message is personalised, those people feel like that business cares about them and knows what they like. By personalising and making offers and giving information that relates to the person, you deliver more value in your marketing.

Segmentation is a seemingly simple but extremely powerful mechanism. Many are already segmenting to some extent, but how about taking advantage of more advanced email segmentation?

The 3 ways to segment your contacts in ActiveCampaign

ActiveCampaign has three features that can be used to segment your contacts. Lists, custom fields, and tags. Used either individually or in combination give us the flexibility to segment your subscribers in many ways.

The key is careful planning. Decide the criteria you will use to segment your contacts and choose the best combination to achieve that.


A list is used to segment your contacts at the broadest possible level. To be effective, all of your contacts must be associated with at least one list.

Where I would suggest a business have two lists is when they retail and wholesale customers. One list for retail customers and one for wholesale customers.

Each can be used in different ways to segment your list and you’re not obliged to use any of them.

Another strategy is to have one list for prospects and another for customers. If they haven’t yet purchased from you, they’re on the prospect list and once they do make a purchase, they’re moved to the customer list. It then becomes easy to send one message to prospects and another to customers.

And yet another approach is to have lists based on the types of messages you send. You may have a list to send messages to people who want to receive your newsletter, upcoming events, specials and promotions, and blog updates.

ActiveCampaign has been created with the contact email address as the core of everything.

What this means is that an email address can exist on one list, but be included in multiple lists. If not managed properly, this can cause a problem particularly when it comes to unsubscribes.

When a contact is in multiple lists such as lists for message types, if they choose to unsubscribe, they may only be removed from one list. This can cause a problem if they then receive emails relating to other lists that they are members of. They may consider these messages as spam or complain.

Creating a list in ActiveCampaign

Custom fields

ActiveCampaign provides default fields for holding information about your contacts. This is rarely enough information to help you manage your contacts. ActiveCampaign has custom fields that you can create to collect additional information about contacts that are important to your business.

Custom fields can be populated by having contacts complete a form, by using automation to add information, or by adding the information yourself.

There are 8 types of custom fields that can be created.

Custom fields can be used to segment your contacts by storing information about a contact that rarely or is not easily changed. For example, you would use a custom field to store a contact’s gender or the industry sector in which they work

To send targeted messages, you can create segments that are based on the contents of a custom field.

Create a custom field in ActiveCampaign


Tags are generally used where things can change quickly. For example, controlling the flow of emails when someone requests a lead magnet.

Tags have three uses. To keep your contacts organised, to control the flow of an automation, or control the display of content in emails. For segmentation, we use tags to stay organised. For example, we can use a tag to indicate whether a contact is a lead, prospect, or customer.

You could also add a tag to indicate the category of products that they have purchased.

Tags are easy to create so it’s common for people to end up with too many tags with some no longer used or a system that is difficult to manage. It’s important to develop a tagging strategy early so that you don’t end up with a system that is unmanageable and expensive to fix.

If you’re not using a Customer list and don’t have a custom field to indicate the same, you could add a tag such as STATUS: Customer to achieve the same thing.

Wrap up

There you have them. The 3 ways to segment your contacts in ActiveCampaign.

If you have an email marketing list, you need to put careful thought into how you can send better messages to your list. To do this, segment your list.

ActiveCampaign has three tools to help  you start segmenting your contacts.

Do you have any segmentation strategies that you’d like to share?

Head over to the Atomic Education Facebook page and join the conversation.

Inbox Insights: Weekly email marketing tips, blog post and course updates delivered to your inbox. Sign me up.
Like this article?
Share it
Drop files here or
Max. file size: 50 MB, Max. files: 3.