HubSpot Active vs Static List: Harnessing the Power of Segmentation

Bastien Paul
Bastien Paul
March 25, 2024


Brief Overview of HubSpot:

Have you ever stumbled upon a tool that seamlessly combines sales, marketing, and service software to aid businesses grow without compromise? That's HubSpot for you! Originating as a simple inbound marketing tool, HubSpot has metamorphosed into a comprehensive platform helping businesses of all sizes streamline their operations and engage their audience in a more personalized manner. With a myriad of tools and features under its belt, the benefits of using HubSpot makes customer relationship management (CRM) a piece of cake. And speaking of features, let's delve deeper into one of HubSpot's most potent functionalities – lists.

Importance of Lists in Marketing:

Think of marketing as hosting a dinner party. Would you serve the same dish to vegetarians and carnivores alike? Probably not. Just like how different guests have different palate preferences, your audience has varied interests, behaviors, and needs. This is where lists come into play. In the realm of marketing, lists are akin to the recipe book guiding your dinner preparations. They help you segment your vast audience into manageable, targeted groups, ensuring that your message resonates and caters to the specific needs of each segment. With the right lists, you can craft tailored campaigns, foster better relationships, and ultimately, boost your conversion rates. After all, personalization isn't just a buzzword; it's the heart of modern marketing, your sales will craft awesome ice breakers easily.

Understanding HubSpot Lists

What is a List in HubSpot?

At its core, a list in HubSpot is a curated set of contacts or companies, meticulously grouped based on specific criteria. Think of it like a playlist for your favorite songs. Instead of shuffling through thousands of tracks, you have a dedicated list that matches your current mood or preference. Similarly, HubSpot lists allow businesses to segment their audience based on shared characteristics, behaviors, or interactions.

Core Uses of Lists

  1. Targeted Email Campaigns: Imagine sending a promotional email about winter apparel to someone living near the equator. Doesn't make much sense, right? With lists, you ensure that your emails reach the right people with content that's relevant to them.
  2. Workflow Triggers: Automated workflows can be initiated based on the members of a list. For instance, if you have a list of contacts who've shown interest in a particular product, you can initiate an automated workflow to send them related content or offers.
  3. Sales Follow-Ups: Your sales team can benefit immensely from lists. A list can pinpoint potential leads that are more likely to convert, enabling the sales team to prioritize their outreach efforts.
  4. Analyzing Audience Segments: Understanding the preferences, behaviors, and demographics of your segmented lists can offer valuable insights. These insights can then be used to refine marketing strategies.
  5. Feedback and Surveys: Want to know how your latest product is performing? Or gauge the satisfaction level of your recent event attendees? Segment them into a list and send out targeted feedback forms or surveys.

In the ever-evolving landscape of digital marketing, one thing remains constant: the need to understand and cater to your audience. HubSpot's list feature acts as a compass, guiding marketers to ensure that their message is not just heard, but resonates. As we delve deeper, you'll see how active and static lists differ, and how each serves a unique purpose in the grand marketing scheme.

Active Lists

Definition and Key Features

Active lists in HubSpot are dynamic by nature, constantly evolving based on the criteria you set. Think of them as living organisms; as contacts meet the specified criteria, they are automatically added, and as they drift from those criteria, they're removed. It's a bit like a VIP club where members come and go based on certain eligibility standards.

Key features include:

  1. Automated Updates: As soon as a contact fulfills the defined criteria, they're in. Conversely, if they no longer meet the standards, they're out. It's an automatic revolving door.
  2. Criteria-Based: Everything hinges on the criteria you set. Whether it's behavior-driven (like opening an email) or property-based (such as a change in job title), active lists respond in real-time.
  3. Ongoing Relevance: With automatic updates, these lists ensure that you're always targeting the most relevant segment of your audience.

Pros of Active Lists

  1. Time Efficient: Once set, active lists need minimal manual intervention. They keep themselves updated, saving marketers considerable time.
  2. Highly Relevant: Because they're always updated, active lists ensure that your marketing efforts are directed towards the most relevant audience segment.
  3. Cost-Effective: In the long run, focusing your marketing efforts on a relevant audience can lead to better ROI.

Situations to Use Active Lists

  1. Regular Newsletters: If you want to send out monthly newsletters to new subscribers, an active list will automatically add new sign-ups and ensure they get the latest content.
  2. Behavior-Based Campaigns: Suppose you want to target users who've visited a specific product page in the last week. An active list can help segment such users.
  3. Lifecycle Marketing: For businesses that focus on lifecycle marketing—moving leads from awareness to decision—active lists can segment contacts based on their current lifecycle stage.
  4. Changing Properties: If you're tracking properties that change frequently, like HubSpot lead scoring or engagement levels, active lists can help you keep tabs on high-engaging contacts.

In essence, when dealing with fluid situations where the audience might change based on behavior or property updates, active lists are your go-to. They're like your own set of smart filters, ensuring that your marketing efforts are always on point.

Static Lists

Definition and Key Features

Static lists in HubSpot are the polar opposite of their active counterparts. Once created, they remain unchanged regardless of future behaviors or data changes of the contacts within. It's like taking a snapshot at a point in time, capturing a specific group of contacts, and keeping that group unchanged.

Key features include:

  1. Fixed Membership: Once a contact is added to a static list, they stay there until manually removed, irrespective of future data changes.
  2. Manual Additions and Removals: Any modifications, be it additions or removals, have to be done manually by the user.
  3. One-time Criteria: The list is created based on specific criteria at a particular moment. Unlike active lists, they won't auto-update based on this criteria later on.

Pros of Static Lists

  1. Consistency: These lists offer a consistent group of contacts, useful for referencing or re-engaging a particular segment from a past campaign.
  2. Specific Campaign Targeting: If you have a one-time campaign targeting a unique segment, static lists ensure you're reaching out to the exact same contacts throughout.
  3. Historical Reference: They act as a historical record, allowing businesses to review past campaigns and analyze their audience segments.

Situations to Use Static Lists

  1. Event Attendees: For example, after hosting a webinar, you can create a static list of all attendees to send out thank you emails or post-event surveys.
  2. Bulk Actions: If you need to perform bulk actions like deleting contacts, static lists help you group these contacts and make changes without affecting others.
  3. Past Campaign Analysis: By keeping the audience segment unchanged, businesses can assess the performance of a past campaign accurately. Such as leads coming from a specific ads campaign identified in HubSpot thanks to the property Original Source, and you want to save them for later analysis
  4. Manual Segmentation: In cases where you'd want to personally curate a list, perhaps for an exclusive offer to a select group of contacts, static lists come in handy.

So, when your marketing strategy demands consistency, or you're looking back to analyze or replicate past successes, static lists are the tool you need. They're the reliable, unchanging anchor amidst the dynamic world of inbound marketing.

Comparison Between Active and Static Lists

Key Differences

Dynamic vs. Fixed Membership:

  • Active Lists: Automatically update based on the set criteria. As soon as a contact meets the criteria, they are added, and if they no longer fulfill it, they are removed.
  • Static Lists: They remain unchanged post-creation. A contact, once added, stays on the list until manually removed, regardless of data changes.

Purpose and Use:

  • Active Lists: Ideal for ongoing marketing campaigns, retargeting efforts, and segmentation based on continuously changing properties.
  • Static Lists: Best for one-time campaigns, historical referencing, or when consistency of the audience segment is crucial.


  • Active Lists: Low maintenance as the list auto-updates based on behavior or data changes.
  • Static Lists: Require manual upkeep if you want to add or remove contacts.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Each

Active Lists:


  • Automated Efficiency: Reduces manual work as contacts are auto-segmented based on behavior or changing data.
  • Timeliness: Always up-to-date, ensuring relevancy in marketing efforts.
  • Personalization: As they are based on real-time behaviors or actions, campaigns can be more personalized and relevant.


  • Over-segmentation: There's a risk of over-segmenting, which might lead to very small lists if not monitored.
  • Reliance on Criteria: If the set criteria are flawed or too narrow, the list might miss out on relevant contacts.

Static Lists:


  • Consistency: Ensures a fixed set of contacts, useful for specific, targeted campaigns.
  • Control: Provides marketers complete control over the list composition.
  • Historical Analysis: Acts as a record for analyzing past campaigns or events.


  • Manual Maintenance: Requires regular check-ins and updates to remain relevant.
  • Staleness: Without updates, the list can become outdated, risking irrelevancy in campaigns.

How to Create, Edit, and Manage Lists in HubSpot

Steps to Create Lists:

  1. Login to Your HubSpot Account: Start by logging into your HubSpot dashboard.
  2. Navigate to Contacts: Find the "Contact" section in the main menu, and from the dropdown, select "Lists."
  3. Initiate New List Creation: Click the "Create List" button, usually found on the upper right corner.
  4. Choose List Type: Decide between 'Contact Based' for contacts and 'Company Based' for companies. Then, select either "Active List" or "Static List" based on your requirement.
  5. Name Your List: Assign a meaningful name to your list, ensuring easy identification later.
  6. Define Criteria: Utilize the filters and set the criteria for the contacts or companies you want on your list.
  7. Preview and Save: After setting up your criteria, a preview of potential list members will be displayed. If it looks good, hit the "Save" button.

Editing a List:

  1. Access List Directory: Go to the “Contact>Lists” section in HubSpot.
  2. Search and Select: Use the search bar to find the list you want to edit. Click on its name.
  3. Modify Criteria: Adjust the properties or filters to change the list's criteria.
  4. Preview Changes: Always preview your list after editing to ensure you've captured the right audience.
  5. Save: Don't forget to save your changes!

Organizing Lists: Folders:

  1. Go to Lists Section: Navigate to "Contact>Lists."
  2. Locate 'Folders' Option: It's typically in the upper left, next to “All Lists.”
  3. Create a New Folder: Click on "Create folder" usually found in the upper right corner.
  4. Name and Organize: Assign a name to your folder and start dragging lists into it for better organization.

Cloning, Moving, and Deleting a List:

  1. Find Your List: In "Contact>Lists," locate the list you want to manage.
  2. Action Options: Hover over the list name, and a dropdown menu will appear.
  3. Clone: Select "Clone" if you want an exact replica of the list.
  4. Move: To organize your list into a folder, click "Move to folder," then choose the desired folder.
  5. Delete: Use this option with caution. Deleting a list is permanent, but rest assured, the contacts within the list remain unaffected.

HubSpot's list management capabilities are expansive. It allows marketers to flexibly segment, organize, and modify lists, ensuring the right audience is targeted every time. Whether you're segmenting for a campaign or just organizing your contacts, HubSpot has got you covered.

Tips for Effective List Management in HubSpot

Regularly Update Criteria:

  1. Stay Relevant: Business goals, strategies, and target audiences evolve. Regularly revisiting and updating the criteria for your lists ensures they remain aligned with current objectives.
  2. Automated vs Manual Lists: Remember, while active lists update automatically based on criteria, static lists don’t. Periodically review static lists and consider whether a shift to active lists could be beneficial.
  3. Adjust for Campaign Feedback: If a campaign didn't yield the desired results, it might be time to adjust your list criteria. Continuous improvement is key.

Ensure Data Cleanliness:

  1. Regular Audits: Schedule routine audits of your contact data. Eliminate duplicates contacts, correct inaccuracies, and fill in missing information.
  2. Integrate with CRM: If HubSpot isn’t your only customer data source, ensure regular synchronizations between systems to maintain data integrity.
  3. Set Standards: Have a consistent format for data entry, whether it's for phone numbers, addresses, or names. This makes the data easier to manage and segment.
  4. Implement Data Decay Prevention: Recognize that data decays over time. Contacts switch jobs or change their email addresses. Setting up a system to capture these changes can prevent outdated data from affecting your campaigns.

Avoid Over-segmentation:

  1. Balanced Personalization: While segmenting allows for personalized marketing, there's a limit. Too many micro-segments can make campaigns unwieldy and challenging to manage.
  2. Segmentation vs Generalization: Not every campaign needs hyper-targeted segmentation. Sometimes, a broader approach can reach a wider audience, especially for more general marketing messages.
  3. Review List Sizes: If you find a list with only a handful of contacts, consider whether it’s necessary. Combining it with another related segment might be more effective.
  4. Prioritize Major Segments: While niche segments can be essential for specific campaigns, always ensure you're catering to your primary audience segments effectively.

Effective list management in HubSpot is more than just creating lists. It's about continuously refining, cleaning, and optimizing to ensure your marketing efforts hit the mark. With these tips (check out our tips and tricks article), you can maximize the potential of your lists and drive better engagement with your audience.


Recap of Key Points:

We've journeyed through the intricate landscape of HubSpot's list management, distinguishing between active and static lists. At the core, HubSpot's dynamic list features, such as active lists, keep pace with evolving contact behavior and properties. In contrast, static lists provide a more fixed approach, capturing a snapshot of contacts at a particular moment. Both have their distinct advantages, challenges, and optimal use cases.

Encourage Effective Use of Lists for Better Marketing Outcomes:

Understanding and utilizing HubSpot's list features to their full potential can significantly enhance your marketing campaigns. Regular updates, data cleanliness, and avoiding over-segmentation are just a few golden rules to follow. By ensuring your lists are well-managed and thoughtfully curated, you position your business for more impactful and successful engagements. Remember, in the world of digital marketing, it's not just about reaching out—it's about reaching out to the right people at the right time. And with the right list management techniques, you're one step closer to achieving that goal.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a limit to the number of contacts I can add to a static list?

No, there isn't a specific limit to the number of contacts you can add to a static list. However, it's essential to ensure that the list remains manageable and serves its intended purpose efficiently.

Can I convert an active list to a static one or vice versa?

No, once a list type is chosen (active or static), it can't be changed to the other type. However, you can create a new list of the desired type and use the criteria or contacts from the original list as a starting point.

How often should I review and update my active list criteria?

It's advisable to review your active list criteria regularly, especially if you observe any anomalies in list membership or if there are changes in your marketing strategy. Periodic reviews help ensure your lists remain relevant and effective.

How to add a contact to a list in HubSpot?

In HubSpot, navigate to "Contacts" > "Lists", select the desired list, then use the "Add contact" function.

What's the primary difference between HubSpot's active and static lists?

Active lists in HubSpot are dynamic and automatically update members based on set criteria. When contacts fulfill the criteria, they're added, and when they don't, they're removed. On the other hand, static lists are fixed. Once you create a static list, the contacts in it remain unchanged regardless of any future criteria they might meet or miss.

Bastien Paul
Bastien Paul
Bastien is the CRO of Hublead. With over 5 years in marketing and sales, using Hubspot, Bastien has written several studies and marketing guides based on data, many of which are well-known in the industry. Bastien likes to question standard marketing and sales beliefs and aims to make things simpler and more efficient.
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