How to Create an Audience in Salesforce Marketing Cloud

By Chester Bullock, Mark Pollard

Audience Builder starts with your entire population of contacts for a channel. You add filters to limit that population based on the contacts’ attribute values and ultimately build an audience. For example, you can create a filter to cut the population of all the contacts for whom you have email addresses to only the contacts who live in Indiana.

You might use Audience Builder for data analysis, in which case the audience you build might never leave Audience Builder. However, if you want to send a message to an audience, you need to publish the audience. Some Marketing Cloud users like to use the feature in Audience Builder that shows a real-time count of contacts that satisfy the filter criteria to continue filtering only until the audience contains the desired number of subscribers to receive a particular email promotion.

Use the following steps to create an audience:

  1. From the Audience Builder overview screen, click the Create Audience button.
    The Audience Builder canvas appears with the Filter tab open.
  2. Click the words Untitled Audience (in the upper-left corner) and type a name for your audience. Then click Done.
  3. Select the channel of contacts that you want to start with.
    Choose a value from the Channel drop-down menu near the top of the screen.
  4. In the Attribute Library on the left, navigate to the attribute you want to use in your filter.
    You may need to open multiple categories to find the attribute that you want. The exact attributes and attribute categories that you see in the Attribute Library vary depending on your Audience Builder configuration.
  5. Click the attribute in the Attribute Library and drag it to the workspace on the right side of the screen.

    If a number in parentheses appears next to the attribute name, the attribute is preconfigured and you can skip to Step 8. The number indicates how many contacts satisfy that filter.

  6. Complete the Edit Criteria window that appears, and click Done.
  7. Repeat Step 6 for as many filter criteria as you want to add to the audience.
  8. Click the Exclusions tab.
  9. In the Attribute Library, click each attribute that you want to exclude from the audience, and drag the attribute to the workspace. Click Done.

    filter criteria for audience Salesforce Marketing Cloud
    The number of contacts excluded by a filter criterion can give you an idea of whether your exclusions are too restrictive.

    You may need to click the Refresh button that appears above the workspace, on the right side of the screen, to see the updated audience count after applying your exclusion. The number of contacts excluded by the exclusion criteria that you added appears on the right side.

  10. Click the Segments tab.
  11. Click the New Segment button.
    The Segments workspace appears with the Segments tab open.
    Salesforce Marketing Cloud Segments workspace
    The Segments workspace is a mini-dashboard, where you can see the list of segments you already created, edit the segment definitions, and create new segments.
  12. If you want to name your segments, click in the field and replace Segment 1 with the name you want to use.
  13. As in the Filter and Exclusions tabs, click and drag each attribute from the Attribute Library to the workspace and complete the Edit Criteria window, if applicable.
    You may need to click the Refresh button to see how many contacts from the audience qualify for this segment. The number of contacts in the segment appears on the Segments tab.
  14. Click Done after you’ve finished defining the first segment.
    Alternately, if you want another segment, repeat Steps 11–14.
  15. Click the Publish tab.
    A summary of the audience definition appears.
    Salesforce Marketing Cloud audience details
    Check the details of your audience definition before publishing it.
  16. Complete the fields on the Publish tab.
    • Save Location: Choose the folder where you want to save the audience.
    • Save Behavior: Select the option of overwriting the records in existing data extensions or generating new data extensions.
    • Tracking Code: Enter a value to use to track this audience. When the system generates the data extension with the audience, this value appears in a column in the data extension.
    • Publish Activity: Select this box to create a publish activity for the audience. Later, you can schedule the publish activity by adding a Publish Audience activity to a step in Automation Studio. Each time the automation runs, the system will republish the audience.
    • Segments to be published check boxes: If you’ve created multiple segments as part of the audience setup, you use these boxes to select which ones to publish.
    • Attributes to be appended: Choose which contact attributes you want the system to include in the data extension.
  17. Click Save and Publish.

Together, Contact Builder and Audience Builder give you control of all the data you store about the people with whom your brand communicates online. Contact Builder is where you put the data in; Audience Builder is where you get the data out. With this information safely stored but easily available, you are ready to focus on excellent, targeted marketing communications that get measurable results.