How to Create An Email Distribution List (Plus Helpful Tips)


Email changed the way we communicate. Instead of using traditional mail, you can now quickly type and send a digital letter to anyone worldwide. Over time, it has expanded beyond personal use and become a crucial part of business and marketing.

It serves various purposes to enhance online communication. One important feature is an email distribution list, allowing you to send the same message to multiple people with just one click.

In this article, we’ll explore what email distribution lists are and their uses. Plus, we’ll guide you on creating them in Microsoft Outlook, Gmail, and Apple Mail, along with some tips for managing your lists effectively.

What is an Email Distribution List?

An email distribution list is a bunch of email addresses you can talk to all at once. It lets you send an email to many people with just one click. Statista says, the number of global e-mail users amounted to 4.26 billion in 2022 and is set to grow to 4.73 billion users in 2026.

That’s a huge number of email users, and that’s where an email distribution list becomes useful.

Plus, you don’t need to type in each person’s email address one by one like with carbon copy. Sending an email to the distribution list takes care of reaching everyone on it automatically.

Imagine you need to regularly email 50 people. Instead of sending separate emails to each person or writing one email and adding all 50 email addresses, you can simplify things. Create an email list with their addresses.

Now, whenever you want to reach out to them, just send one email to the list, and everyone will get it. This is great for in-house communication, like emailing whole departments or teams in your company.

Benefits of Email Distribution Lists

Email marketing is personal – you’re in someone’s private inbox. Using a distribution list helps you make the most of this.

Here are some examples of how it works:

Saves time

The biggest benefit of email lists is that they save time. You don’t have to manually add people every time you want to send an email to a specific group.

Just choose the list, write your email, and click send.

Easy solution for contacting multiple team members at once

Sending messages within a company works well with email lists. They make it easy to email a whole team or department together.

You can also use them to reach specific customer or client groups, although it gets trickier as the size grows.

Teaches you about your customers

To start, you conduct initial customer research to develop a typical buyer profile that will steer your marketing messages. But when you begin marketing to your customers, you’ll quickly find out more about them – especially through email. People might reply to your messages because emails seem more personal and private.

Besides boosting your chances of getting your message across, these responses can be a valuable source of information about their issues and goals if you notice common themes in what they say.

Afterward, you can go back to the planning stage and adjust your buyer profile and messages based on their reactions.

Increases ROI

Email marketing gives you the best return on investment compared to other ways of marketing. In 2024, according to the NEAL SCHAFFER of Email stats, Email marketers make $42 in sales for each $1 spent sending emails. This is higher than the $32 per dollar spent reported before 2020.  

It’s simple: sending an email doesn’t require a lot of time or money. Nowadays, sending an email is almost free (you don’t pay for the data used). Plus, the personal touch of emails motivates people on your list to open them and click on the links.

Builds a Personal Connection

As mentioned before, many people see their email inboxes as private, like a virtual mailbox. Using email lists lets you create a personal connection with each subscriber.

The goal is to make your emails seem like they’re coming from a friend who has their best interests at heart. You don’t need to know the person on the other end, but writing as if you’re talking to a friend makes the message feel less like a sales pitch and more like a genuine human connection.

Plus, if people on the list respond, you get a chance to strengthen that individual connection and make sure they stay loyal and happy.

An Asset You Own

While your social media accounts might seem safe, you don’t really “own” them. The folks who follow you on Facebook, Twitter, or any other platform are actual people. You can’t predict when the platform’s rules might change, possibly hiding your post or, even worse, banning you without warning.

Email is different. Just like your website content, your email list is truly yours. The people you send emails to belong exclusively to you. You have much more influence over your email list compared to other assets, as long as they’ve agreed to receive your emails and you make an effort to stay out of the spam folder.

How to Make an Email Distribution List (in Outlook, Gmail, and Apple Mail)

The way you make an email distribution list depends on the platform you’re using. But don’t worry, it’s pretty easy on any platform.

Here’s how to make an email distribution list using Microsoft Outlook, Gmail, or Apple Mail.

Microsoft Outlook

In Microsoft Outlook, instead of calling them email distribution lists, they’re now referred to as contact groups, but they work the same way. To make a contact group, go to the admin center and choose the People menu.

From there, go to My Contacts and pick the folder where you want to keep the contact group. In most cases, choose the Contacts folder. Click the New Contact Group button to create the contact group.

Give the group a name, then click Add Members to add the contacts you want in the group. If you don’t have someone’s email in Outlook, type it in manually. Finally, click Save & Close to finish making your list.


Groups of contacts in Gmail are called contact groups, and you can make them using labels. After logging in and getting to your inbox, click the plus sign button that says ‘Create Label’ on the left side of the page.

Name it and save it. Now, go to your list of contacts. Check the box next to each contact you want to add.

Once you’ve selected the contacts for your label, go to the upper right corner and click ‘Manage Labels.’ That’s it. You can now edit the group name or remove contacts if necessary.

Apple Mail

Apple Mail uses the term “groups” instead of distribution lists. To make one, open the Contacts app on your Mac, then choose File and New Group. Give your new group a name. Make sure your groups are visible by going to View and selecting Show Groups.

If you can’t see them, click All Contacts to view all your contacts in alphabetical order. Drag the contacts you want to include in the new group. If they have more than one email address, it will use the most recently used one.

If you want to add more contacts later, simply create a contact for them in the address book and drag it to your group.

Email Distribution List Best Practices

Email groups are very handy and can save you time. But, you need to build and use them right.

When making and sending emails to your email group, be sure to follow these best practices.

Check Your List Before You Send a Message

As your list grows, it’s important to regularly check it to make sure you’re sending the right messages to the right people.

For example, you wouldn’t want to send a ‘thanks for buying’ message or a sales email to a group of people who haven’t bought anything yet.

Likewise, you should avoid sending welcome emails to those who have been on your list for a year. Always double-check who you’re sending each message to before hitting ‘send’.

Follow the Law

Privacy of information is very crucial these days, and this is especially clear in laws about how we use data. Take, for instance, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union.

This regulation makes it necessary for you to ask for a “clear agreement” before using someone’s data. The rule states that there can’t be pre-selected options, and the person should willingly and clearly agree.

It also says you have to put a link to unsubscribe in every email, and the steps to do that should be easy to understand. Remember, these guidelines may change depending on where you are.

Make It as Easy as Possible to Leave Your List

Making it easy for people to leave your list should be just as simple as joining it. It might sound a bit surprising, but there are many benefits. First of all, like mentioned before, there are legal consequences if you don’t handle personal information properly.

Allowing folks to easily choose to leave also helps build trust and happiness. When you let them leave whenever they want, it shows that you’re honest and clear. You’re not trying to trick them by making it hard to unsubscribe, hoping they’ll give up.

Clean your list regularly

Email lists naturally shrink by over 22% each year, so even genuine subscribers might be lost.

You can’t make everyone happy on your list. Some people lose interest after signing up. Others may reply with negative messages that you can’t change, no matter how hard you try.

Unhappy or uninterested recipients can affect how many people open your emails, click on links, and other important measures. This can impact how well your emails are delivered. 

That’s why it’s crucial to clean up your email list regularly. This means getting rid of accounts that aren’t active, and you might need to remove the occasional upset user if you can’t solve their problem and they continue to be disrespectful.

It might seem like reducing your email list is counterintuitive, but the goal is to have people on your list who will read your emails and take action. Anyone who isn’t doing that is hurting important email stats without benefiting your business much.

Avoid attachments

Even if you mean well when sending files through email, many people might not like it if they don’t know you very well. Sending files is considered risky because there’s a chance they could have a harmful virus

Email programs might treat your message as spam, throw it in the trash, or block it completely. Even if it does get sent, the person receiving it is less likely to trust it unless they asked for it, like when they signed up for your list to get something you offered.

Sending big files can also make your message too large to send at all. So, it’s a good idea to use links instead whenever you can to share information.

Use Email Marketing Software Instead Where Appropriate

If you have a short list, sending emails might work. But if you want to expand your business and list, you’ll need email marketing software. These tools have different features to make things simpler for you, like:

  • Signing up and unsubscribing from all lists is easy, legal, and automated.
  • A/B testing: This is about dividing your list and sending various versions of the same campaign or email to each group. This helps you figure out which version works best.
  • Analytics: This is used to see how well campaigns are doing.
  • Automations: These are automatic email series that nurture leads and showcase your products.
  • Landing page tools: Use these to make your email signup page and other important pages.
  • Templates and drag-and-drop email builders: These help you quickly make emails, especially if you’re unsure what to write.
  • Segmentation: This is the process of dividing your list based on buying habits, concerns, and other information so that you can target specific members more effectively.

Final Thoughts

So, what did we find out?

Figuring out how much you gain from your email marketing efforts is crucial for the success of all your campaigns. With the method I’ve shared in this post, you can show your senior leadership team that their investment in a lead-nurturing email campaign was a good idea. 

By using the strategies and tactics I’ve mentioned above, you can improve your efforts and always achieve or surpass the average of $42 for every dollar spent. And if you don’t reach that goal, you’ll know you have to look deeper into your efforts.

Christopher Smith
Author: Christopher Smith

SEO and linkbuilding expert. More than 7 years of work in the field of website search engine optimization, specialist in backlink promotion. Head of linkbuilding products at GREAT Guest Posts, a global linkbuilding platform. He regularly participates in SEO conferences and also hosts webinars dedicated to website optimization, working with various marketing tools, strategies and trends of backlink promotion.

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