How to Build Customer Lists

Rachael Norris
Rachael Norris
  • Updated

Customer Lists allow you to create lists of contacts from your database. This can also be referred to as segmenting your audience.

In this article, we’ll cover:

Before reading this article, you may find it helpful to watch the video in Understanding Segments and Customer Lists.


What are Customer Lists?

Customer Lists are groups of customers who have been selected based on specific criteria. 

When creating a new Customer List you can choose to include or exclude customers based on Tags, Attributes, contact preferences or whether they have completed certain actions such as having made a donation.

Customer Lists can be used to:

  • Send integrated or standard mailings.
  • Bulk apply or remove Tags, Attributes or Contact Preferences.
  • Output the details to an unformatted CSV or Excel file.
  • Run through Reports.
  • Create Opportunities or send Invitations in the Opportunities Interface.


Where to find Customer Lists

Customer Lists can be found in the Insights & Mailings Interface > Customer Lists. 

To access Customer Lists, you’ll need the Insights & Mailings user role.

Before learning how to build Customer Lists, we recommend that you are familiar with:


How to build a Customer List

You can create a new Customer List by clicking New Customer List.


  • Give your Customer List a memorable and descriptive name,
  • Add a description with more details about this Customer List.

TIP: You can also edit an existing Customer List by clicking the name of it in the Customer List Explorer.

Next, you’ll be taken through three steps to creating your Customer List.

  1. Building segments in the Pre-filter
  2. Building segments in the Main Filter
  3. Choosing the outputs for the Customer List - if you are choosing to export your Customer List as a CSV or unformatted Excel file


Global and Local Segments

Segments allow you to define who is and isn’t in your Customer List.

There are two kinds of Segments available: Global Segments and Local Segments

Read the Support Centre article Global and Local Segments to learn more about how to build them.

Segments can be used in combination in both the Pre-filter and Main Filter to further narrow down your list.


The Pre-filter & Main filter

When you start to build a new Customer List, by default it will include everyone in your database. 

The Pre-filter and Main Filter are where you drop your Segments which narrow down the audience included in your Customer List.

Any Segments in the Pre-filter will always apply before any Segments in the Main filter. By using Segments to include or exclude customers in the Pre-filter, you can be certain you're only working with contacts you want to include before you do any further segmentation in the Main filter.

  • Example

    A reason you would use the pre-filter first when creating a Customer List would be, for example, to send an integrated marketing email. 

    First, you'll want to ensure that the list only includes people who've consented to receive marketing emails before you begin to add more specific criteria.

    The Pre-filter applies first and then, out of those people, it will find customers who meet the criteria in your Main filter.

    Using the Pre-filter like this means you can be absolutely sure that an integrated email sent to this List will only go to people who you've permission to email. 


To use your Segments in the Customer List…

  • Drag Segments from the left into the dotted criteria section marked drop criteria here on the right.
  • To see how many people you currently have in your List at any time you can use the Update Count button at the top of the screen. If you add, remove, or edit any Segments whilst the count is running, you'll need to run the count again to get an accurate number. Changes to the AND, OR and NOT logic will also affect the result of the count.



The AND, OR and NOT rules

In the pre-filter and the main filter you can use the AND, OR and NOT rules to combine multiple Segments in order to search for specific groups in your database.

REMINDER: The number of people in your Customer Lists can change over time as more customers meet, or fail to meet, the rules in your Segments. For example, if a customer makes a purchase that means they are no longer in your segment, they will automatically be removed.


The AND and OR rules

Dropping a Segment into the same dotted area as another Segment will set an AND rule.

  • The AND rule means your List will only contain people who fall into both or all of the Segments within the same dotted area.

In this example, customers need to have both agreed to email and have booked for Macbeth to be included in the list.


After you have added one Segment, you will see another dotted area for the OR rule.

  • The OR rule means your list will only contain people who fall into all of the Segments in one area OR all of the Segments in the other. 

In this example, customers in this List will meet the criteria of having agreed to email OR having booked for Macbeth. This means that everyone who has agreed to email will be included, whether they have booked Macbeth or not and everyone who has booked for Macbeth will be included whether they have agreed to email or not.


  • In this example, we’re using multiple segments in both the AND and the OR boxes.

    This list would include people who have agreed to email AND booked for Macbeth OR people who have agreed to email AND booked for Hamlet.

You can add in as many AND or OR rules as you like, just bear in mind:

  • Each AND you add will make your criteria stricter and decrease the number of people in your List.
  • Each OR that you add will make your criteria wider and should increase the number of people in your List.

REMINDER: Don’t forget to regularly the Update Count button to see the number of contacts in your list.


The NOT rule

Once you have dragged a Segment into your List you'll also see a NOT check box appear against it. 


  • Check the NOT box to include everyone who does not meet the criteria of the Segment.

In this example, the Segment includes everyone who has booked for Macbeth. By checking the NOT box, this Segment will be highlighted in red and now look for everyone who hasn't booked for Macbeth.


If we combine it with another Segment, we'll now get everyone who has agreed to email AND has not booked for Macbeth.


REMINDER: The NOT rule will exclude customers in that Segment and include everyone else. For example, ticking the NOT box on a Segment looking for people who have come to exactly three shows this year would find everyone who has come to 0, 1, 2, or 4+ shows this year.


Actions you can perform with your Customer List

Once you've set up your list, there are a number of things you can do with the data from the Choose an action dropdown.


  • Output as CSV / unformatted Excel file: Will export into either a CSV or unformatted Excel file. The information included will be based on the Output Columns you chose in the Output tab.
  • Run through report: allows you to run the customers in your Customer List through any of your Reports. Read more in our article on running Customer Lists through Reports.
  • Use in standard mailing: starts the Standard Mailing wizard. This will create a record in Spektrix that the people in the Customer List were sent a mailing. You can use this information for future segmentation or to get return on investment information about the mailing.

TIP: If you choose to send a mailing or email via a third party outside of Spektrix, you will not be able to access return on investment reporting, or the information on open rates and clicks that you can with integrated emails.

  • Use in integrated email: starts the Integrated Mailing wizard. This will create a record in Spektrix that the people in the Customer List were sent a Dotdigital campaign. You can use this information for future segmentation or to get return on investment information about the mailing.

WARNING: If you are scheduling several mailings with similar segments within a short space of time, use a separate customer list for each mailing. Scheduling multiple mailings from the same list in a short time frame can cause conflicts which may result in mailings sending incorrectly. The 'copy' function in the Customer List Explorer will help save you time if you need to just make small changes to an existing list.

  • Apply or remove tag: allows you to add or remove Normal Tags to everyone in a Customer List.
  • Apply or remove contact preference: due to legalities around contact preferences, to import contact preference data to a Customer List you’ll need to request this from our team. We will require that you send us a CSV file with Customer IDs, the name of the Contact Preference you wish to change, and the response you want it changed to in each column.
  • Attach attribute: allows you to add an existing Customer Attribute against all the customers in the List.

The final two options are only available if you're using the Opportunities Interface:

  • Bulk create opportunities: opens the Opportunities wizard to create identical Opportunities against all the customers in the List.
  • Bulk create invitations: opens the Invitations wizard which will allow you to choose an Event Instance and mark customers in this List as invited. In order to appear in the Invitations wizard, the Event Instance must be marked as being available for sale in the Opportunities Interface. 

Along with these actions, you can also use a Customer List as part of a Customer List Schedule. Customer List schedules can be used to automatically deliver Customer Lists by email or on demand, and can be used to power automated emails. 


Output Columns

If you choose to export your Customer List as a CSV or an unformatted Excel file you will also need to select your Output Columns.

TIP: We recommend that you uncheck the Commonly Used Criteria box to see the full set of Criteria.

To select your Output Columns, drag and drop the criteria into the dotted box marked Output Columns.

The order in which you place these Output Columns represents the order they'll appear in the CSV/unformatted Excel file. 

You can also drag criteria into the Sort By area to sort the outputted data by these criteria.

In this example, we have selected Output Columns that will give us the Customer ID, name and the date they first booked. By also adding the Name criteria to the Sort By area, the CSV/unformatted Excel file generated will sort the customers alphabetically.

To run your Customer List as a CSV or an unformatted Excel file, select this option from the drop down and the file download will appear in the top right corner.

TIP: You can set default Output Columns for Customer Lists and Standard Mailings by going to Insights & Mailings > Mailings > Mailings Settings and scrolling down to the Output Template section

TIP: Wrappers which contain multiple Criteria are indicated by the + sign. You can quickly add all of the Criteria contained within by dragging the single Wrapper.


Further reading

To continue learning about Customer Lists in Spektrix, we'd also recommend taking a look at the following articles.