Marketing automation is all about organization.

As you dive into Marketing Automation with email, you will find yourself with some automations that work together and connect with one another and some automations that work as stand-alone or that are parallel to the rest of your marketing efforts.

The bottom line is that you don’t want to mix things up. Keep a fluid experience for your subscribers in mind.

In this blog, we will give you some tips on how to properly organize your lists by creating “Goal-Based Lists” and “Established Lists” to keep your automations under control and to have the ability to connect one with another.

Avoid Spaghetti Automation

We have so many channels of communication and so many layers of leads, subscribers, potentials, customers, etc. You don’t want to mix things up and confuse yourself with your own automations. As I’ve helped build automations for Benchmark and some of our customers, I have found two important things to keep in mind at all times:

  • Keep your automations short and to the point
  • Learn to connect multiple automations by moving subscribers from one list to another.

These two tips are the starting points of email and Marketing Automation and will help you understand how to build out your automation strategy.

Simple Automation is in Your Lists

With Automation Pro, you can start an automation based on someone being added to a list. For example, when a website visitor completes your signup form and becomes a new subscriber, they are added to your “Leads List” and you can trigger a welcome series automation to welcome those new subscribers.

When organizing your subscribers, contacts, leads, etc. in your Benchmark Email account, we recommend focussing on two kinds of lists:

  • Established Lists
  • Goal Based Lists

Established Lists are your main lists. These lists are the heartbeat of your email marketing efforts. Some examples of Established Lists are:

  • Subscribers
  • Leads
  • Prospects
  • Contacts/Customers
  • Lost Customers

Goal-Based Lists are lists focused on subscribers achieving a goal throughout your automations. For example, if you send an email to your prospects, you may want to create two separate lists: 1) EmailNameOpens 2) EmailNameUnopens. Based on the opens and unopens of the email, both lists will automatically populate with the appropriate subscribes.

Other examples of Goal-Based lists:

  • HasClicked/HasNotClicked
  • HasVisitedWebsite/HasNotVisitedWebsite
  • Completed Transaction
  • Abandoned Cart

Goal-based lists will help you stay organized by separating your subscribers based on the actions and behaviors throughout your automations.

Let’s take a look at a live example where we use Established Lists and Goal-Based Lists.

Say you own a clothing store. You just got a new shipment with all of the new clothes for the upcoming season. You’ll want to create a special sale focused on your old inventory to make room for your new clothes. One of the channels you may use is email! Let’s see how marketing automation can help you.

Targeting the Established List

For this example, let’s say the clothing store has an Established list called: “VIP – Customers.” The people in this list are customers who have spent more than X amount of dollars with the store. They want to give these customers a priority on the sale so they target this list as the trigger to the automation.

Marketing Automation - Added to List

Sending A Promotional Email

Now that we have our targeted Established List, we want to send an email to promote the sale. The email will include the sale details along with a link to the online store. The next step will be to track who click on the link in the email vs. those who didn’t.

(REMINDER: Don’t forget to add a delay before your condition)

Setting a Click Condition (Click vs. Did Not Click)

Once the email is delivered and you’ve given enough time for your subscriber to engage with the email (That’s why they previously mentioned delay is so important), it’s time to check who performed the desired action: “CLICK.”

When we set up this condition in Automation Pro, you will see two paths on your automation:

  • Has Clicked
  • Has Not Clicked

Now, is when the Goal-Based Lists come into play for proper organization.

Marketing Automation - Has/Has not Clicks

Goal-Based Lists In Action

From this example, we see that after the email is delivered, Automation Pro will wait 24 hours before checking to see who clicked on the email or not. Once the 24 hours us up, the condition will check for this action and will split up the people who clicked vs. the ones who didn’t down their respective paths. What to do next?

Organized Marketing Automation

You could continue each path on the same automation and send another email… but from experience, this can get out of hand. You may find yourself creating an automation that looks something like this:

The example from above may be exaggerated, but it is a real example from a real user that decided to continue the whole sequence on one automation. Instead of creating a confusing mess, we highly recommend to end this automation after the condition by creating two Goal Based lists, one for each path (Has Clicked / Has Not Clicked). Name your Goal Based Lists something like this: “EmailNameHasClicked” & EmailNameHasNotClicked.”

Doing this will allow you to then create a separate automation that is focused on each Goal Based List. This may sound like extra work at first… but trust me! It is extremely helpful to organize your automations and if you ever need to modify something in the future, you can just modify one piece of the automation instead of having to deactivate the whole thing to make a small change.

In Conclusion

Getting used to the idea of Goal-Based List will really help you stay organized. Especially as you create tons of automations that work with each other.

Start by using Goal Based Lists in simple automations like in the example in this blog post. As you become more familiar with your automation strategy, you’ll have the practice to create mind-bending automations with simple list movements.


We hope this blog helps you understand how to better organize your lists and subscribers for best practices related to your marketing automation.

We came up with this list idea from helping our customers and building our own automations as well.

Please share with us in the comments examples of how you organize your automations and lists so we can try to share these ideas with the rest of our users as well.