Marketing Strategy

Inbound Basics: Segmenting Your Contact Database the Right Way

Bob Ruffolo

Founder & CEO, Keynote Speaker, Entrepreneur, Recipient of Comparably’s Best CEO ’17

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Inbound Basics: Segmenting Your Contact Database the Right Way Blog Feature

Published on July 22nd, 2015

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inbound-basics-segmenting-your-contact-database-the-right-way.jpgOnce you’ve setup your contact database (hopefully using a CRM) and have selected the properties you want to use / collect, it’s time to segment your leads based on those properties. Segmenting is the process of dividing contacts into groups based on similarities that are relevant to your marketing team.

Why Segment Your Contacts?

Segmenting by lifecycle stage ensures relevancy, which is vitally important, since 56% of U.S. email users are said to have unsubscribed from a business or nonprofit email subscription because of content that is no longer relevant. (1)

The practice of segmenting based on a contact’s past activity, including conversion history and pages viewed, can also yield remarkably useful insights for the purposes of sales follow-up.

Finally, in addition to the value of relevancy and avoiding SPAM, you’ll want to segment your contacts to improve the results of your email marketing campaigns. Obviously, an email designed with your personas in mind—segmented by audience—with content they really care about will increase the number of opens and click-throughs you receive.

Over time, you’ll reap the benefits of having a great email-sender score reputation with your contacts as they come to expect great content tailored to their needs, because it always has been. (2)

Ways to Segment Your Database 

Since you can segment based on any property or data you’re collecting in your database, there’s an infinite number of ways to do it. To give you some ideas, you could segment:

  • Based on any property (or combination of properties) collected from landing pages
  • By type of contact: prospect, customer, employee, vendor, etc.
  • People who’ve been actively engaged (or not) in the last X number of days
  • By level of sales-readiness
  • People who’ve entered a sales process but did not close
  • To create a suppression list of contacts that shouldn’t receive a campaign (3)

There’s no limit to how much you can segment your database, and you may segment your database differently based on various marketing campaigns or other new business development objectives. Contacts can be in various segments at the same time. All that matters is that you’re sending appropriate information to the right people at the right time.

How to Segment Your Contacts 

Once you’ve defined the ways you want to segment, there’s two very common ways to execute the segmentation; namely, views and lists.

We discussed views earlier when we discussed setting up your CRM. Views provide a simple and effective way for your sales team to segment the leads that they want to focus on. Also from views, it’s possible to select multiple contacts and set them up for marketing automation campaigns, such as lead nurturing campaigns built with workflows.

The other way to execute the segmentation of leads is by creating lists. This can be done using a marketing automation software, like HubSpot, or in any email marketing software such as Constant Contact or Campaign Monitor. The benefit of using a tool like HubSpot is that it enables you to create dynamic lists, called smart lists. As properties change from a leads engagement with your website, fields completed on landing pages and CRM changes made by your sales team, smart lists automatically update adding and removing contacts.

Here are some examples of how segmenting with smart lists makes your marketing more effective (and less annoying):

  • You can send automated emails to qualified leads when they have yet to take your desired sales-ready action, like schedule a demo, and you can automatically have these automated emails stopped when your sales team marks “Demo Scheduled” in your CRM.
  • When a lead hasn’t been active on your website in over 30 days, you can trigger emails with educational content encouraging them to come back and engage. When they do return, you could turn off these automated emails.

How We Do It At IMPACT

One primary way we segment our database here at IMPACT is by using one simple property which we call IMPACT Lifecycle, but really should just be called Database Segment. It’s one property with about 25 options that allows us to place all contacts in our database into buckets as described above. It includes clients, past clients, prospects, employees, friends, job applicants, vendors, and more.

So, What's Next?

The content above was an excerpt from our all-new guide, Inbound Lead Management 101. In the full version, you'll learn more about segmentation, integrating your CRM, measuring lead sales-readiness, and accelerating sales with technology. Get your free copy here, right now!

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