Segmenting your contacts - Getting started

Overview

Good email marketing relies on sending relevant content to your contacts. To simplify the process of finding the right contacts for a campaign, we have two types of lists for managing contacts: address books and segments.

S_location_segment_diagram.jpgAddress books

These are lists of contacts that have been grouped by you. Contacts are added or removed from address books based on actions by you, or by the contacts themselves (address books can be exposed to your contacts, should you wish, using signup forms and preference centres). See also Creating an address book.

Segments

Segments are lists of contacts that meet certain criteria defined by you. They could be simple, such as:

  • All contacts under the age of 25; or
  • All contacts living in Seattle; or
  • All contacts that have never opened an email campaign

Or more complicated, such as:

  • All contacts between the ages of 16 and 25, living in Seattle, who've been sent at least one campaign in the last six months, haven't opened any email campaigns in the last six months, aren't in the address book 'gap year', and haven't been sent any of three 're‑engagement' campaigns.

You'll find that our segment builder is extremely flexible. This means the better the data is that you capture and hold on your contacts, the more detailed and targeted your segment criteria can be.

Creating a new segment

1. Create and name your segment

Navigate to Contacts > Segments > My segments, and click on New segment. You'll be asked to select a template. You can either choose a blank template and build your segment from scratch, or, if you're looking for more of a steer on inspiration, you can select from one of our pre-built templates which have been designed for a whole range of purposes.

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The rest of the steps assumes you're starting from scratch, but they're also applicable to editing a segment template.

You'll be asked to give your segment a name, select a folder location, and then to click Continue.

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2. Drag and drop new rules

Segments consist of one or more 'rules'. Your segment starts, by default, by including all contacts in all of your address books.

Drag new rules into the drop area from the left-hand side panel to start building your segment.

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In this example, we'll drag in a Data fields rule to find female contacts.

3. Configure each rule

Having dragged in a rule, you'll be prompted to set up the configuration (in this example [click to select a data field]).

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This will open a list of options for your rule. Select the relevant contact data field (or campaign, or address book, depending upon the rule type).

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Based on the type of rule and/or contact data field selected, you'll get additional options at the bottom of the form.

In this case, having selected the GENDER contact data field, we want the option to make it equal to something - and in this case we'll type in 'Female'.

Other options to achieve the same goal could have been that GENDER started with 'F', or did not contain 'Male', for instance.

See the articles listed below for different rule types to find out more about the options for each rule and data type.

As you build the rule, the subheading at the top of the form will update with a summary of the rule.

When happy, click OK. This will take you back to the main segment building page.

Click Save & continue to save the rule, or rollover the rule to highlight it and access the rule's toolbar.

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You can move the rule elsewhere by clicking on the toolbar and dragging it around, plus you can duplicate the rule or delete it by using the icons available to the far right.

4. Group rules together (AND/OR)

As you add rules to your segment, they'll build up. So, when you've added these rules -

  • Data field 'GENDER' must be equal to 'Female'; and
  • Have not opened any campaign

- then only contacts that satisfy both conditions will be found in the segment. Female contacts that have opened campaigns will not be in the segment, and nor will male contacts that haven't opened any campaign.

If you want your segment to include contacts that match any (and not necessarily all) of the rules, then click the toggle to OR (you can also click the heading of the group to toggle this).

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By dragging in new AND or OR groups from the left-hand menu, you can mix them to form complex segments.

For example, by mixing rules and groups you could build a segment that finds all contacts whose state is Florida, but will also find additional contacts whose state is Georgia or Alabama with data indicating that they're prepared to travel out of state. That segment would look like this.

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If you want your segment to contain both And or Or rules, try overlapping multiple groups.

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5. Add specific exclusions

At the bottom of the segments tool, you'll see a second drop zone to define contacts that should be specifically excluded from the query.

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6. Test your segment

Once you've built your segment, you can preview the number of contacts it will contain by clicking the Generate count button above the rule building area.

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The segment count is then displayed.

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If the number of contacts looks correct, click through and view the contacts in the segment. Otherwise, if the count doesn't look correct to you, you might want to review your segment rules to make sure you've got them right.

Working with segments

There are of course many things you can do with segments once you've created them, besides sending to them. 

For a start, all segments need to be refreshed before they show up-to-the-minute information for the segment. This can be done manually when working with them, or you can set them to refresh automatically before a scheduled send.

Furthermore, segments can be edited, copied, deleted, moved to other folders, renamed, checked against the GSL, whilst contacts can be bulk updated within a segment, a random sample can be taken from a segment, a segment can be removed - along with their contacts - from your account, and segments can be converted or copied into an address book.

All of this is covered in Working with segments.

Types of segmentation rules

Segmentation rules can be based on the following:

See the separate article on Types of segmentation rules for more information.

Geographical queries

You can create powerful location-based segments using this tool on contact data fields such as town, state, country and postcode.

However, should you wish to segment your contacts via a map view, then see our separate article on Building a geographical query.

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