The difference between a list-based and tag-based email marketing tool

If you have been working with a list-based email marketing tool so far, we would like to take this opportunity to show you a tag-based tool and the benefits it can provide.

List-based email marketing

With list-based marketing, you always need a list for certain actions. A new prospective customer comes to your website and enters their name in a form. When you create the form, you select beforehand which list the contact will be automatically assigned to later. Usually the first form is for the newsletter. The contact has confirmed the double opt-in process and is now in the newsletter list.

Now you can send all newsletter subscribers an offer for an e-book and later an offer for an online course or registration for a webinar.

As soon as the contact buys a product, they are added to the various buyer lists for the respective products or for webinar registration.

We already have four different lists:

  • Newsletter list
  • Buyer list product A (e-book)
  • Buyer list product B (online course)
  • Webinar registration list


  1. A person can appear in more than one list, depending on the action the person has taken. This way, you cannot prevent a contact receiving an email twice, since no segmentation is possible here.
  2. Another problem is the payment plan of the respective provider. Usually this is staggered to a certain number of contacts. If a contact is now in 5 lists, it also counts as 5 contacts, even though it only has one email address. Therefore, you never know exactly how many different contacts you have already collected.

It also becomes difficult when it comes to segmentation. For example, if you want to send a discount code to everyone who has bought product A but not product B, there are 2 possibilities:

  1. Send the code to everyone. The problem is that now the code is also sent to contacts who have bought product A but may also have bought product B. This is something you want to prevent. This would result in sending irrelevant emails.
  2. You compare both lists and remove from list A all those who have bought both products. This may be relatively easy with 10 people, but with more than 100 it is already a big effort. If you then possibly have further segmentations, it will become impossible.

List-based email marketing is not designed for customer-specific segmentation and is no longer up to date.

Overview of the disadvantages of a list-based marketing system:

  • Contact in several lists (for many products there is no overview available).
  • Price/month depends on the number of contacts (limit to contacts).
  • If a contact was in 5 lists, it counts 5 times.
  • Specific segmentation is either impossible or very difficult.

Tag-based email marketing

A tag is a virtual notepad. Tags enable you to provide your customers with keywords and/or key points to better select them. Where did the customers come from, what were they interested in? You can answer these and many more questions automatically with the help of tags.

The biggest advantage over list-based email marketing is certainly the extremely precise segmentation of your contacts.

For example, you can segment the campaigns to whom you want to send this email: to buyers of a certain product? To readers who clicked on a certain link in an email and thus signaled interest? To contacts who have watched a video? The possibilities here are numerous.

You can now go one step further with automation and specify that an email campaign be triggered as soon as someone receives a specific tag. This way, as soon as someone has bought your product, for example, they will immediately enter the upsell process.

Tags can also be used to segment each individual contact at a later stage, allowing you to create analyses and reports that can then be used to optimise your automation.

The advantages of tag-based email marketing:

  • Contact has several tags for a specific action.
  • Email delivery can be selected via tags.
  • Segmentation of your customers by target group or interest is easy.