How to Use Segmentation in Marketing Automation

By Mathew Sweezey

Every marketing campaign, even automated ones, should be relevant to the person you’re targeting. The good news is that targeting your message through segmentation is the fastest way to be relevant. That’s because segmenting your database based on activity allows you to find core groups of people with similar levels of interest.

How to segment from email actions

Email actions are a segmentation most marketers are familiar with. Email opens, bounces, and clicks are the standard email actions used for segmentation. Learning to use, or not use, the following email actions will help you understand how to segment correctly from these actions and increase the accuracy of your segments.

  • Segmenting on email opens: Email opens are a very bad segmentation to use in most cases. Email opens are a false positive. It is better to segment on other email activity. This has been used mostly because there were not better metrics to segment from. Now you have better ones, so leave this one on the shelf.

  • Segmenting on email bounces: Segmenting your list on email bounces is very helpful for cleaning your database. Many times, a bounce on an email requires a manual effort to determine the validity of the email address. Bounces may also signal sales to work other leads in the account.

    Segment your email bounces into emails that hard bounce (which denotes a bad email address) and emails that soft bounce (which denotes an out-of-office response) four or more times.

  • Segmenting on email link clicks: Segmenting on email link clicks is the best way to segment on email actions. A link click is a direct action that is very accurate, revealing a specific interest in the content the link points to. Depending on your type of email, segmenting on email clicks helps you

    • Segment leads by product interest

    • Segment leads by level of interest

    • Move leads into different campaigns

How to segment from prospect actions

If your goal is to have a segment of people with a specific interest, you can easily accomplish this goal by segmenting based on one or more actions such as content downloads, pages visited, and emails clicked. Understanding and segmenting on multiple actions helps you understand your audience much better than segmenting based on only one action.

To segment from prospect actions, create one segment for product of interest and add people to that segment as many different ways as possible.

For example, if you want to create a segment for people who are interested in your high level of service, you should add people to this segment based on search terms related to service, service links people click in your emails, and the service pages they visit on your website.

How to segment from prospect inactivity

Inactivity can tell you as much about a person as the actions the person takes, because inactivity can give you insights into someone’s behavior patterns. Learning how to correctly segment on the following behaviors is key to your future success with marketing automation:

  • Segmenting on time: Create segments for inactivity time frames. Consider using segments such as

    • Date of last interaction

    • No action within the past 60 days

    • No marketing touch in past 60 days

  • Segmenting on lead score: Scores should be calculated based on a combination of activity and inactivity. Consider these segments:

    • Leads with no scores

    • Leads whose scores have gone up the most in the past 30 days

    • Leads with the highest score over a period of time

    • Leads whose scores have gone down in the past 60 days

How to segment off of CRM data

Marketing automation makes it easy to access customer relationship management (CRM) data. Because CRM systems are usually central data repositories for a company, your marketing automation tool won’t be the only system putting data into your CRM system. Any data that is in your CRM system can be used for segmentations by your marketing automation tool. Consider looking at data sets that are helpful for more targeted campaigns:

  • Segmenting on last purchase

  • Segmenting on total purchase history

  • Segmenting on lead stage

  • Segmenting on opportunity stage

  • Segmenting on a specific sales rep’s leads

Sales activity is also recorded in your CRM and can be used for segmentation. Segmenting on sales activity helps you pick up the slack when sales reps are too busy to reach all their leads.