Marketing Automation Tips: Segmenting Your Customer Database

Did you know that targeted email programs have been proven to reduce advertising costs and increase ROI percentages to as much as 3000%?

marketsegSophisticated segmentation sounds intimidating. And in the past, it may have been, though most marketers can agree segmentation almost always drives better results.  The art of splicing and dicing your database, creating messages for each target group, and making sense of all the “big data” is a big job.  But, with the help of marketing automation tools like Marketo or Act-on and as software reviews site, Software Advice, highlights–analytics to understand customers, the segmentation game has changed for the better. How, you might ask?

Let’s first take a look at what segmentation really means.

Most simply, segmentation is “the act of dividing”. Thus, customer segmentation is the art of “dividing” customers into groups. How you decide to organize these groups determines your messaging strategy.

There are two main ways to segment customer databases: by behavior or demographic. Examples for each of these indicators are below:

Behavior Scoring Examples:

  • Downloaded pricing form
  • Viewed landing page
  • Viewed multiple pages in 1 week
  • Attended tradeshow
  • Registered for a webinar
  • Searched for company name
  • Searched for product name

Demographic Scoring Examples:

  • Title
  • Role
  • Purchasing authority
  • Social network participation
  • Personal Interests
  • Birthdays

In order for customer segments to have impact, they need to provide marketers with meaningful data, not just “big data”.

That’s where marketing automation comes in. Marketing automation platforms provide marketers with all the tools necessary to easily segment customers based on both behavioral and demographic indicators. “Smart lists”, scoring rules, triggers and dynamic content can all be utilized to split customers into segments based on behavior or demographics and speak more directly to their interests and motivations.

Smart Lists:

A smart list is a feature in Marketo specifically that defines which leads your program will affect. This is where you select triggers and set up rules for which customers you want to message, based on specific activity or attributes.

Scoring Rules:

Lead scoring is a methodology shared by sales and marketing that ranks leads to determine their sales-readiness. Leads are scored based on interest they show in your business, place in the buying cycle, and overall fit with your business. (Marketo) Scoring rules can be either demographic or behavioral, and serve to identify customers who are most interested in your company or organization. Identifying leads that are ‘hot’ as well as those that are not helps marketers become more efficient in their communications. It also helps sales teams prioritize their outreach efforts.


Triggers are drag and drop activities or attributes used to define “if/when” statements for all customers. When a trigger occurs, automatic responses will ensue. Whether a customer receives an email, drops into a new campaign, or is assigned a sales person to follow up with them, triggers help make sure customers keep moving along in the nurturing cycle. Triggers also help define the “flow” of all nurturing campaigns.

Dynamic Content:

Dynamic content is an incredible capability within many marketing automation tools that allows marketers to swap content in emails or landing pages based on a pre-determined set of rules or variables. These preferences can be automatically set by the customer when they opt-in to messages, or can be based on the behavior or demographics of the recipient.

The real beauty of marketing automation lies in the simplicity of the reporting that’s available. Once programs are set up, smart lists and triggers are created, and a scoring model is implemented, the key is to figure out a way to turn all the “big data” you gain into data that means something to your marketing team.

Luckily, marketing automation platforms offer many “meaningful” reports that marketers are sure to find exciting:

  • Email Link Performance reports
  • Email Performance reports
  • Landing Page Performance
  • Program Performance reports
  • Campaign Activity reports
  • Company Web Activity
  • Web Page activity
  • Revenue attribution reports

In summary, marketing automation platforms are making it easier for marketers to segment their databases. The main goal in all segmentation efforts is simple: understand your customers’ pain points, learn as much as you can about each individual customer (their needs, motivations, interests) and tailor your messaging to these segments in order to give them what they need to take action. Take advantage of marketing automation tools and features like dynamic content, lead scoring, triggers and smart lists – they’ll help your marketing team become more efficient!


Check out our helpful 14-pg. marketing automation primer.

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  • Super solid post that highlights the benefit of marketing automation beyond email – really great work. Also, the post could be called Marketo Lingo 101 🙂 as only Marketo users know the ins and outs of Triggers, Segmentations, SmartLists, etc. Thanks!

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