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Segmentation: Why and How

Arseniy Chuprun | August 11, 2022 

The Why

As marketers it’s our job to deliver the right message, to the right person, at the right time. Doing so improves the customer experience, increases customer retention, prevents attrition, and boosts revenue. How can marketers ensure they are doing this? The answer is simple: audience segmentation. 

But why, exactly, is the right person, time, and message so important? Let’s dig into that next:

  1. The right person: If I’m a global retailer who wants to launch a summer campaign in June for my new swimwear line, I’d likely want to avoid sending any messaging to my customers in Australia who are just getting their winter started. The folks down under are not my target audience for this campaign, as swimming while it’s 60 degrees fahrenheit isn’t very fun (for most people!).

    By not segmenting for this campaign, I’ll spend resources sending messages about products that aren’t relevant to my entire audience. I’ll also likely get a few unsubscribes from customers who feel I don’t know or care enough about them to understand swimming is not in the cards for the next few months.
  2. The right time: Timing is critical in any interaction, but especially when it comes to marketers communicating with their customers. The importance of timing is two-fold: 1.) there is an optimal time of day to send a message (based on the customer’s location), and 2.) there is an optimal moment for messaging, depending on where your audience may be in their customer journey.

    You don’t want to send messages to your American and Australian audience, for example, in the same fell swoop. While it may be prime-time for one of those audiences, the other would receive it in the middle of the night. You also want to make sure you send win-back emails (coupons or special offers), for instance, to customers who actually need to be won back—not the ones who may have just joined.

    Make sense? Good. Let’s move on to messaging.
  3. The right message: So, now we have the right person, and we’ve also determined the ideal time. What is the right message? This can be interpreted in a lot of different ways, but for simplicity, let’s focus on segmenting and delivering the right messaging based on customer profile.

    We’ll use the example of a local credit union. You’ve determined you have two types of people (or customers) you do business with—one is a direct customer who is doing business with your bank daily and the other is an indirect customer who has gotten a car loan through your bank. It’s safe to say that as a marketer, your messaging would be slightly different for the direct and indirect customers. For example, you may want your messaging to your indirect customers to be more educational, emphasizing the benefits of becoming a direct customer with your bank. By contrast, the messaging for your direct customers may be centered around specific products or programs they have not yet taken advantage of.

    In summary, segmenting your audience will allow for a more personalized and actionable experience for your various audiences. 

The How

“Fine,” you say, “I understand why we need to segment our audiences, but how can I do this in the Salesforce Marketing Cloud, the greatest email marketing solution to ever exist?”

You’re in luck, here are some proven ways to do this within the tool:

  1. One of the most common methods is using Filtered Data Extensions. Data Extensions are essentially tables within the Marketing Cloud (like an excel table). This method allows you to segment off of one particular source Data Extension, giving you the ability to filter using one or many data points that reside within that source Data Extension (e.g. Country or Signup date).
  2. But what if we need to combine and segment data from multiple Data Extensions? For instance, let’s say you want to take a Purchase Date Extension and Customer Data Extension and create a new audience segment which only contains customers who have already purchased X product, so that you can market the X add-on to them.

    No worries, use a SQL query within Automation Studio. This allows you to query from two (or more) data extensions on unifying keys and build data parameters that return the specific segments you are attempting to create straight into a target Data Extension. Pretty neat, huh?
  3. “Ok, cheeky blog writer, but what if I don’t know how to write any SQL?” Gotcha covered there too, marketer!

    There are products out there like DESelect, which provide marketers who don’t know SQL the ability to produce SQL queries using a visual tool. Instead of having to code your query, you can drag and drop data points within the Salesforce app without having to know how to write a single line of code. Neat, eh? 

Need additional support or guidance? We’ve got your back! At ListEngage, our team of experts can support all your Salesforce Marketing Cloud needs—including setting up the segments you need to reach the right audience with your message, at just the right time. Contact us today for a free consultation to learn more. 

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Arseniy Chuprun | Solutions Consultant

Arseniy is a Solutions Consultant at ListEngage with a demonstrated history of working in marketing, healthcare, and business development leveraging Salesforce solutions. His expertise lies in marketing automation, marketing strategy, and relationship management.