April 22, 2015

The Difference Between Lists and Segments

You should understand the difference between lists and segments in iContact in order to make informed decisions about how you manage your contacts in the software. Here are what I consider the most important differences when decision making:

A segment is based on a variable you would use to send segment specific messages.

You can use a segment to differentiate contacts on the list by any variable, such as geographical location (City, Province) or relationship status (member/non-member). You can send a message just to that segment by excluding/including it when you send. These segments would allow you to send event information only to those local to the event or special promotions to past members only. Segments serve to split your list when sending.

Contacts subscribe to lists but are assigned to segments.

Contacts cannot unsubscribe from segments. It is your choice if they are in a segment, their choice if they are on a list. You cannot send to a contact that is in a segment but not on a list.

Lists are managed by the software, segments are manually managed.
The software is designed to keep you CASL compliant by managing your contacts and their subscriptions - your lists. It does not track segments in any automatic way. Be careful,  managing segments is labour intensive!

You pay for subscribers.
Contacts count as a subscriber for each list they are on. They do not count as a subscriber when assigned to a segment. A single contact that is subscribed to 3 lists, will be charged as 3 subscribers. A single contact that is subscribed to one list but assigned to 3 segments, will be charged as 1 subscriber.

I see the benefit of segments, but why would I want a second list?
To give your subscribers options. If you are running multiple campaigns that together generate email volume, or if you know there are significant contacts on your list that would not be interested in specific content, you will want to create a second list. Your subscribers can then unsubscribe from one campaign but remain subscribed to the other. Your subscriber could subscribe to your newsletter but unsubscribe from your event campaign. Giving them choices helps you retain them as a reader for the content they are interested in, without feeling overwhelmed with content they are not interested in.

Always remember that unsubscribes are not personal. Perhaps they value the information in your newsletter but are not local to attend your events. You never know why someone unsubscribes but you can always know that it is never personal. Trust me. It isn't.

Originally published on DanielleCarrier.com

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