There’s a level of analysis paralysis when it comes to dealing with segmented lists. Marketers wonder how much data is too much data, and how do you work with it once you’ve got it? This strikes a fear of using email list segmentation or it complicates future campaigns. There’s no need to fear overlapping data and there’s no need to complicate a campaign.

To avoid overlapping data, start with the very first filter you use to gather subscriber data: the email sign up form. The signup form is the first gatekeeper of questions. This is where you want to keep it simple and steady. Don’t be afraid to ask for the info you need, but don’t overdo it. People tend to ask far too many questions or not enough.

To find the balance, consider your business, what you’re offering, what would help you convert customers and what type of info you need to maximize visibility. There are articles out there that guide you through the top 25 questions to ask on an email sign up form. This isn’t a blueprint, but rather a la carte suggestion pile. Take what you need, leave what you don’t. If you’re asking too many questions, you’ve going to discourage the subscriber to complete the subscription (especially if all fields are required) and you’re going to end up with overlapping data. Let’s say you’re already there. You’ve asked the 25 questions and now you’ve got way too much data almost guaranteeing you overlapping lists. There’s a way to handle this too. First, go in and clean up what you don’t need. If

Let’s say you’re already there. You’ve asked the 25 questions and now you’ve got way too much data almost guaranteeing you overlapping lists. There’s a way to handle this too. First, go in and clean up what you don’t need. If your signup form was from 2010, and we’re now at 2016, then I can guarantee you by now you’ve got a good idea of what you need and don’t need. So keep it lean and spring clean the data out so you’re not dealing with variables that have no purpose. Then clean up your sign up form.

As for taking advantage of overlapping data, there are a couple ways to handle this. First, know that if you’re sending one campaign to a couple of lists with overlapping data, your email will only be sent once despite the overlapping lists. So there’s really nothing to fear here.

However, if you’re sending the same or even a split campaign as separate campaigns, then overlapping is going to be affected. That person will get multiple campaigns. There’s a silver lining here. You increase your chances of getting a click open and you get to see which list and campaign is more effective in receiving your campaign. Use segmented lists with high overlapping frequency as your own A/B test to see what’s working and what’s not. This is especially useful if you have, let’s say 10-15 contacts overlapping across at least one other section. When this happens you’ve got a good test pool and can see which campaigns they’re responding to more than others. It’s the ultimate A/B test because you’re getting to use the same steady focus group to see how a group of people is responding differently to multiple campaigns.