Buyers of marketing automation systems look for 3 key features according to a recent report by Software Advice. Those features are Lead Nurturing, Reporting & Analytics and Lead Scoring.

While these great, buzzword-y features grab a lion share of votes, they don’t mean much without the most unsexy and overlooked marketing automation feature of them all.

You guessed it, segmentation.

According to the same Software Advice report, segmentation scored lowest for requested features. But this unrequested gem is extremely important to properly execute any marketing activity.

What’s a Segment?

According to the dictionary, a segment is “each of the parts into which something is or may be divided“. To put it into marketing terms, they are the groups your audience is stored.

Some segments will be obvious like current customers, newsletter subscribers or demo requests. To take it a step or two further, you could segment on company size, job title, pages visited on your website or number of visits. An example detailed segment could be all VPs of Marketing who work at software companies who’ve visited the services page 4x and submitted the newsletter subscription form.

Once you have defined your segments, it makes it simpler to send targeted, more relevant messages.

Segments seem cool right? So why do they rank so low on the marketing automation feature checklist?

Because segments are nerdy. I mean, they’re just a grouping of people, right?

Yeah, that’s what they are on the surface. But in reality they’re the building blocks of everything you’ll do in a marketing automation tool.

  • Sending email? – Who are you going to send it to? What segment of your audience is best to receive said email?
  • Lead nurturing? – Here’s a hard truth, lead nurturing doesn’t just happen when you buy a shiny new marketing automation tool.Yes, it sounds appealing, but what it requires is a segment to nurture, a group of emails or events to send, actions to track and decisions to make.
  • Lead scoring? – Where are you going to put all these scored leads? You guessed it, a segment. Then that segment will be used for lead nurturing or sending simple email. Man segments are huge.


Creating Segments

As I’ve said, segments are pretty important to the big marketing picture. While they’re not sought after during the research phase, they do become very central to your marketing automation tool of choice.

Luckily, marketing automation is very, very good at creating segments. They can be as broad or as granular as you’d like, with their purpose being to group people based on similar criteria and use the segment to send relevant messages.

You’ve already created a bullet-proof buyer persona, so let’s start there. Create a segment that matches the job title of your persona. Next, break it up even further by layering their system status on top. For example, let’s say you have a “marketing director” buyer persona, you’d simply create a sub-segments by lead, opportunity or customer. I like keeping a global segment by persona in the event you want to send a message that’s relevant regardless of their status (events for example).

Segmentation isn’t difficult, in fact you can bucket people right from your online forms or after they’re in you system. All marketing automation tools make this easy and all are pretty robust. What’s important is to make segments and understand how important they are to every sexy feature in your MAT.

For some sample segments and more on the subject, check out this blog article on Vero.