How Should I Segment My Database?

Marketing Automation


As a marketer, you want to communicate with your audience in a personalized, highly relevant way. You want to target the right person, with the right message at the right time across every channel.  And you want to do all of those things at scale – you want to be able to grow without sacrificing that personalized approach.

Which is why, as you contact your database, it’s essential that you divide that database into segments, and tailor your communications for each segment – as we’ve learned, 23% of engagement is explained by segmentation. But to create meaningful segments, you need a platform that can divide your audience in meaningful ways. In our new ebook, Asking the Right Questions: How to Evaluate Marketing Automation, we explore the range of segmentation capabilities available to marketers today. How will you segment your database, and which capabilities will you need?

How Should I Segment My Database?

Traditionally, marketers have used marketing automation to segment their databases using demographic and firmographic criteria. For example, you might create segments based on:

  • Job title
  • Company size
  • Industry
  • Language
  • Geographic location

More sophisticated marketing automation solutions can also segment your audience by behaviors – not just who your customers are, but what they do. These might include:

  • Visits to your website
  • Interactions with your email messages
  • Engagement on social network
  • Attendance/engagement at in-person events

When it comes to which behaviors you can use to segment, however, different solutions will differ widely. On the basic end, simpler solutions can segment by behaviors like “clicking on an email” or “filling out a form.” But on the more advanced end, some solutions can segment based on cross-channel behaviors – on your website, in your emails, on social, or in person.

Which of these ways do you want to segment your audience?

  • By firmographics (job title, company size, industry, etc.)
  • By simple behaviors (such as “clicking on an email” or “filling out a form”)
  • By cross-channel behaviors (such as “visiting a tradeshow booth” or “sharing content on Facebook”)

But what does this kind of segmentation actually look like? To give you a better idea, here are some examples of segments you might want to target. Keep in mind – these are just sample segments, to give you an idea of the possibilities you can explore with marketing automation:

  • Buyers from a specific industry who have visited your company website in the last 60 days
  • Buyers who have shared your content on social networks in the last two weeks
  • Buyers at companies with less than 1,000 employees, who have clicked a specific link in an email in the past two weeks
  • Buyers who have participated in a social poll in the past 30 days
  • Buyers who have visited your company’s knowledge base more than three times in the last week
  • Buyers who have visited your company’s booth at a tradeshow in the last 90 days
  • Buyers who have visited your company’s pricing page on your corporate website two times in one day

Of course (as we’ve already said), the range of segmentation capabilities varies drastically from one marketing automation platform to another. That’s why — particularly if you’re considering or evaluating platforms — it’s important to know which features you’ll need before you dive in.

To start building a framework of both standard and exceptional segmentation capabilities — among many other features — download our ebook, Asking the Right Questions: How to Evaluate Marketing Automation.

asking the right questions evaluating marketing automation

Questions about segmenting your database? Drop us a line in the comments below, or tweet to us @marketo!