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How to Create a Distribution Mailing List in Outlook (Latest Update)

A distribution list offers a great way to communicate with clients. Find out how to create a distribution list in Outlook.
how to create a distribution mailing list in outlook

 Mailing lists are essential assets for every digital marketer as it helps them drive traffic to their WooCommerce site and transforming traffic into real-time conversions.

Mailing list is also one of the best way to make your site gain SEO since it gives value to individual pages and affects the way Google sees your site and they will know that you publish relevant content that people love visiting and guess what, it will not take long for Google to rank your pages on the 1st search results.

That is why mailing list is a crucial asset in every digital commerce type. 

The best way to create a mailing list is always by getting your visitors to subscribe to your site updates by displaying them a form to enter their email address for updates.

Experiments have proven that over 80 - 90% of conversions on a ecommerce website are from mailing list because these already subscribed visitors love your products or contents and will like getting updates from your shop. So they will likely click on the mails you send them and visit your site increasing your conversions.

It is not to be forgotten that to ensure your email deliverability is a success, you will need the best and cheap email marketing software to ensure your emails fall in the direct inbox and not in the spam box.

However, if your site isn't that influential over the web and doesn't gain much visitors from organic traffic and you have many contacts that you know will be interested in your products, then you can derive a mailing list from these contacts. The contacts here can be either Gmail or Outlook contacts.

Previously, we provided a detailed step by step guide to create mailing list in Gmail. From there, you can select all your contacts from your Google contacts (those with email address associated to their contacts) and then creating a contact group or list where you can send group messages.

With outlook, the process is even simple and but will seem complicated for many. Well don't just focus your mind on the word complicated because in this guide, I will be showing you a step by step guide to create a distribution mailing list in Outlook.

Table of Contents

What is a Distribution Mailing List in Outlook?

A distribution list is a feature of email client programs (e.g. MS Outlook) that allow users to maintain a list of email addresses or send messages to everyone in their address book all at once.

READ ALSO: How to Create a Mailing List in Gmail Step by Step

Outlook Distribution Lists, also called Distribution Groups or even Contact Groups depending on which version of Outlook you’re running, are groups of email recipients that are addressed as a single recipient.

This distribution mailing list helps business owners and marketers easily communicate announcements to their employees. This will help facilitate communication between owners and employees since all of them will be associated to a particular contact list.

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The Major Difference between distribution lists, distribution groups, and contact groups in Outlook

Distribution lists are managed centrally for the entire organization, and the emails sent to these lists are usually sent from an associated email address that internal communications or human resources owns, rather than a personal email address.

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However, when we talk of contact group, it is related to distribution list and was likely updated to be a bit more self-explanatory as to not confuse users. So contact groups are just updates for distribution list. However, Microsoft still recognizes these contact groups as distribution list but all still the same.

Contact groups are personally created in an individual email account in Outlook meaning anyone can build a custom contact group easily which is what I will be showing you today. Let's see how we can go about that.

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How to Create a Distribution Mailing List or Contact Group in Outlook

We will be creating this distribution mailing list in 4 steps as follows.

Step 1: Creating a Contact Group

Open your Microsoft Outlook and click on the People icon in the folder plane to get to the People tab. This folder pane is located on the left-hand side of your Outlook main interface

The next thing you will have to do is to click on New Contact Group to create a new group for your contacts for an assigned business.

We done with the first step. Let's move to the next step.

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Step 2: Naming and Adding Members to Your Contact Group

After completing the above step, you will be asked to name your contact group. You can name it to your likeness but I recommend you use a name that relates to or that reflects your business.

Next you will have to populate your group.

You can select and add members manually, or you can search by fields such as location or title if you have this information linked to your address book. Remember to select More Columns before searching for an additional attribute. 

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You are allowed to add the number of Contacts as it pleases you. When done adding contacts, just click on the members button at the bottom-left corner of the window.

Step 3: Saving your Distribution List or Contact Group

This is the easiest step to complete because all you will have to do here is to click on Save in the tool navigation panel.

Step 4: Using Your Created Distribution Mailing List to Send Mails

If all went well till this stage then it means you have succeeded in creating the distribution mailing list for your in Outlook. Your list is segmented and well arranged for proper deliverability of your mails.

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If you want to send a mail to your employees or if you just want to send a group mail, then you just got to enter the Contact Group name in the To field and the distribution list will appear and you can send mails to this contact group just as if you were sending the mail list to an individual.

How to Update a Distribution Mailing List in Outlook

There are many reasons why you need to update your mailing list. It can be the case because you either want to add or remove someone from the list.

However, the process is quite simple.

All you have to do is to create a new email, enter the list name in the To field and right-click on it. 

From there you can reopen the contact group window and add or remove members.

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The Pros and Cons of Outlook Distribution Mailing Lists for Employee Communications


  • Very effective and easy way to build a distribution list if your organization has flawless contact data in Outlook.
  • You likely already have access to create them.
  • Its a complete straightforward process.


  • Earlier versions of Outlook have limits on the number of addresses you can include, typically between 50-70 contacts. 
  • You can’t exclude certain recipients from your communications, if they are already on the distribution list, unless you remove them from the distribution list.
  • Even though Outlook 2010 and later versions allow unlimited address in distribution lists, your corporate environment, server, or even internet service provider may limit the size of your groups and block emails that have more recipients. 
  • Emails that have a lot of recipients are more often marked as spam by the recipients email provider.
  • If you send to a Contact Group or Distribution List using the ‘To’ or ‘CC’ field, Outlook may expose all of the recipients email addresses to each recipient. This can take up a lot of space at the top of the email and also may be a privacy issue. While you can ‘BCC’ a Contact Group, this is an easy step to forget if you send a lot of emails.
  • It can be difficult to get support if you’re having issues. You’ll likely have to go through your own IT team or wait for community responses on their support forums. When something isn’t working, this may mean your important communications are delayed while you wait for help.
  • You can’t get analytics comparing email performance across different lists.
  • Potential for reply-all drama.
  • Require frequent updates

How to Export a Distribution List or Contact Group from Outlook to Google Contacts, Excel, PowerPoint or As a CSV File

Paying attention to the fact that Google Contacts allow contact importation in a .CSV file format, Excel to does the same meaning I will just have to show you how to export your distribution list to a .csv file format because it will be acceptable for all the other services. However, exporting as a txt file will also be good.

How to do it?

  1. In Outlook, shift to Contact view, click on the contact group you want to export, and then click on File and Save As.
  2. In the Save As dialog box, click on the folder that you want to save this contact group in.
  3. Input a name for the exported contact group inside the File name box.
  4. Click on the Save as type box, and then select the Text Only option from the drop down list.
  5. Click on the Save button.

If you want to create an Excel sheet for further edits before importing in Google Contacts, then it is equally easy and from here, you can export in csv format that will be acceptable by Google Contacts.

How to do it?

  • You will need to create a blank Excel file in Excel, and later on navigate to File (or Office button)> Open or File > Open > Computer > Browse.
  • In the dialog box that pops up, click on Open.
  • Open the folder in which you saved your exported contact group just now.
  • Select the second box that’s next to the File name box, then select the All Files (or Text Files) option from the drop down list.
  • Select the text file of your exported contact group, and then click on the Open button.
  • In the Text Import Wizard dialog box that pops open, check to make sure that the Delimited option is ticked, then click on the Finish button.

From here, you can even import the mailing list into the best email marketing software that will help in the immediate deliverability of your mails.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to create a distribution list in Outlook with multiple email addresses?

Yes, it is possible to create a distribution list in outlook with multiple email addresses.

How do I manage an email distribution list in Outlook?

Open Microsoft Outlook and then open the Address Book. Locate the distribution list by typing the full or partial name of it. Click Modify Members. To add a person to the DL, click Add. ... To remove a person from the DL, click on their name in the Members list and then click Remove.

Final Thoughts on How to Create a Distribution Mailing List in Outlook

Having a distribution mailing list or contact group can be really crucial for your business especially if your organization has flawless data in Outlook. Then communicating with them through contact groups is even the best way.

You might also have some contacts on Outlook that can be ideal for your business and that you think they might give you good average conversions, so what you do is you have to exploit them to the fullest by creating a contact group or mailing list with a relevant name that matches what you have to offer.

The process is straightforward as I walked you through the steps ahead. With this method, you can create an email group in outlook 365 or better still, create a distribution list in outlook 2016. 

The steps listed above is applicable for all of these outlook versions.

However, you might want to export your outlook contact group to other services such as Google contacts, Excel, PowerPoint or even as a csv file to use in your email marketing tool. Let's see how we can do that

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About the Author

Tebid Kelly is a Graphic Designer, Web Developer, Ethical Hacker, Programmer, and Content Creator who showcases his skills and experience on his blogs. He also has much love for finance apps such as Cash App, Venmo, PayPal, Zelle, etc on which he ha…

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