Create the optimal CRM Master List!

Robert Kohnke Act-On Team

Creating a Master List is one of the BEST best practices that you can follow.

The issue that we seek to resolve today - How do you make a REAL CRM Master List that stays reliably up-to-date on its own?


You will need your Master List created, your CRM Leads and Contacts lists imported, and 5-10 minutes.

You want to be sure your Master List has been created by Importing a CRM list (your Contacts or Leads) - this allows you to use all of the CRM list benefits with your Master List (like sending 'Sent' notes with your outbound emails).

You will end up with your CRM lists, an interim Master List, and your TRUE Master List.

The interim list is a VERY important step/piece of the puzzle - see the bottom of this article for the technical details of 'why.'


Please use this technique carefully - there are severe possible ramifications including deleting your entire Master List if this is done incorrectly. Check, recheck, and check again when setting up an auto-delete function.


  1. Copy your Master List:
    1. Click the drop-down next to the list > Copy > Choose the 'Copy the structure and all the records' option
    2. This will be your 'interim' Master List. Feel free to rename it.
  2. On EACH of your CRM lists create a segment that excludes records without emails, Opt-Outs, and Hard Bounces (these are optional, but suggested)
  3. Create 3 separate List Maintenance Programs on your copy of Master List (they must be 3 distinct programs, not a 3-step program, or you will end up with this error):
    1.        - this means the program will NOT run.
    2. Program 1: Copy from Contacts with a Delete option - this is copying from the 'no email' Contacts segment
    3. Program 2: Copy from Leads with a Delete option - this is copying from the 'no email' Leads segment
    4. Program 3: Copy from Contacts with NO Delete option - this is copying from the 'no email' Contacts segment
  4. Once all three are created, schedule them 10-15 minutes apart in the order they were created above.
  5. Your result will be:
    1. Your interim list essentially becomes a true copy of your Contacts list
    2. Then the Leads are copied into the list, overwriting any information that exists (duplicate contacts that are both Leads and Contacts) and deleting records that aren't Leads
    3. Finally, Contacts are copied into the interim list, appended to the bottom.
  6. Final Step: On your TRUE Master List, create a List Maintenance Program that copies FROM the interim Master List with a delete option - and schedule it to run at least 30 minutes after the 3rd Program on the Interim list


A Master List that ONLY contains records that still exist in your CRM lists, updated automatically.


If you setup your CRM lists to sync and auto-remove records not found, your Master List will contain only the records that actually exist within your CRM.

What's with the 'interim' list?

The above Master List creation setup uses a series of List Maintenance Programs that essentially delete the list they copy to, then overwrite with their data.

One of the goals of using a Master List is that you will use segments from it to drive your Automated Programs.

Fun fact: when a record is removed from the source list of an AP, they are Deleted from the AP.

THIS is what we are trying to avoid with the interim list (it's also why there is an important note about taking care with this information above). By copying to/deleting from the interim list and then only copying/deleting that list to your Master List, you don't delete everyone from your Master List each night to keep it 'true'.

As always, have a great day and Happy Marketing!

Robert Kohnke
Marketing Operations Strategist, Act-On Software, Inc.


1 comment

  • Comment author
    Francois Lhuissier

    Hi Robert !

    Thank you for this very useful article. I'm however probably missing something about the 3rd maintenance program. Why can't you just setup the first two as follows?

    1 - Copy from Contacts with a Delete option (unchanged)

    2 - Copy from Leads with NO Delete option -> updates contacts that are also leads, append other leads

    Thanks for your clarification.





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