What are segments?
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.
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 (as address books can be exposed to your contacts, should you wish, using sign up forms and preference centers).
Segments are lists of contacts that meet certain criteria defined by you. They could be simple, such as:
- All female 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 female contacts between the ages of 16 and 25, living in Seattle, who have been sent at least one email campaign in the last six months, have not opened any email campaigns in the last six months, are not in the address book gap year, and have not been sent any of three re-engagement campaigns.
Creating a new segment
- 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.
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.
- 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.
In this example, we'll drag in a Data fields rule to find female contacts.
- 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]).
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).
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.
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.
- 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).
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.
- 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.
- 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.
Converting segments into address books
Once you have created a segment that you don’t wish to update, you can convert it into an address book. Simply select the segment created, click on More actions… and select Convert to address book. This will instantly create a brand new address book composed of just this segment.
You can also copy a selected segment into one or more of your existing address books by clicking on More actions… and selecting Copy to address book.
By doing either one of these, you also avoid adding to your segmentation allowance.
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.
Types of segmentation rules
Segmentation rules can be based on the following:
- Contact data fields
- Address books
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.