Basics of If-Then Statements for Advanced Segmentation in Marketing Automation - dummies

Basics of If-Then Statements for Advanced Segmentation in Marketing Automation

By Mathew Sweezey

An if-then statement is an advanced rule that you can use for marketing automation to segment your database based on a true or false condition. For example, you can program your software to look at data in your database and apply the following if-then statement:

If <condition> is true,

then do <action>

Basic segmentations may look for a match on a single data point without the use of an if-then statement. Notice how the statement is asking for all VPs in New Jersey and has no other conditions for the segmentation.


If you want to make a basic segmentation more granular, use an if-then statement. In the example below, the if-then statement applies to all VPs in New Jersey who have also downloaded a specific white paper.


When using if-then statements, you need to know a few basic rules. Keep these in mind while building your statements to make sure that they work properly:

  • Use an existing list. Depending on your tool, you may have to set up your list before you can build a segmentation.

  • Use correct data. If you are running an if-then statement from a data point, there must be the correct data in the field. Make sure that your data is being populated correctly into your field.

  • Strive for exact matches. If-then statements look for exact matches. If you tell your system that Job Title should equal “VP,” you must have “VP” in the Job Title field, not V.P. or Vice President.

    To avoid having to worry about data consistency issues, ensure that your forms use drop-down menus and pick lists on data entry forms. These options force people to always choose one of the standard options rather than create their own.

  • Conditional statements. For very advanced segmentation, use conditional statements. A conditional statement is an if-then statement nested within another if-then statement, making it an if-then statement only for that data point, not the full segmentation.

    Conditional statements are very helpful when you have a very complex automation rule, such as when you’re trying to cover lots of scenarios with a single rule. The conditional elements allow you to place a more granular focus on a specific part of the automation rule.

    So, for example, the statement might first call for looking at the “VPs in New Jersey” and then to search all those records for which ones are not in “sales opportunities greater than $10,000.” Here is a conditional statement for the segmentation of VPs in New Jersey who have read a white paper but are not in an existing sales opportunity at the moment:


  • Test and check. After you set up your segmentation, make sure to test it and check to make sure that it works properly. Many times, human error causes segmentation to fail. If you notice any issues, check for exact matches and check your conditional statements.