How to Generate a Segment List for Marketing Automation - dummies

How to Generate a Segment List for Marketing Automation

By Mathew Sweezey

Generating your lists for marketing automation is very easy and usually requires only a few clicks in your marketing automation system. There are a few important things to keep in mind when building your first list to make your list-building life easier.

Not all tools use the same controls on a list. Make sure that you know the answers to the following questions before you build your lists:

  • Does your tool automatically de-duplicate upon sending an email? De-duplicating means that the tool recognizes when a person appears more than once in an email list and allows duplicates to receive only one email regardless of how many times someone may be on a list or a combination of lists. This feature is extremely helpful when you deal with multiple lists.

  • What is your tool’s key identifier for de-duplication? It will most likely be either an email address or a CRM ID field.

  • Does your tool allow someone to be on the same list more than once?

How to identify key data points for segmentation

The more data points you have for your segmentation, the more complicated it will become to manage your segmentation. This can mean bad lists, so make sure that you try to minimize the number of data points you are using for segmentation. The most common data points used in segmentation are the following:

  • Demographic data: For example, name, zip, and company size.

  • Actions: For example, downloads, clicks, and page views.

  • Behaviors: These include lead score and last activity date.

  • CRM data: For example, last sales activity, lead status, account status, and opportunity stage.

How to develop a naming convention for segments

When you’re just getting started, you might start off with only a few lists. You won’t need a plan for naming your lists with so few, but over time, the number of lists you have will grow exponentially. A naming convention is a plan for naming your lists intuitively. For example, “WN” can be used as shorthand for “webinar” and “3P” can stand for “third party.”


Naming conventions are especially useful when you have multiple people on your team who are all creating lists for different uses. Some good things to include in your naming convention are the following:

  • Dates

  • The department that uses the list

  • Campaign name

  • What the list is being used for

  • Region that owns the list

  • Person who created the list

  • Any specific data to help you understand what the list is for

How to add people to the list

There are a lot of ways to add people to your segmentation lists. The most common include:

  • Mining your database: Many times, you’ll need to make a list from people in your database. You already have the data, so you just need to find the people who meet your criteria.

  • Segmenting in real time: Some marketing campaigns require real-time segmentation. For example, you may want to instantly segment someone who visits a web page into a campaign or list so that you can automatically initiate follow-up marketing campaigns.

  • Adding people manually: Just because you have automation doesn’t mean you’ll always use it. For example, your salespeople may need to add people to a list manually. This situation usually happens when your sales team needs you to run a marketing campaign to a group the sales team identifies.

  • Removing from lists: Sometimes when you add someone to one list, you need to simultaneously remove him or her from another list. Don’t forget to add this action to your segmentations if a segmentation change makes a former segmentation obsolete.