When you send your contacts messaging that isn’t relevant to their pains and interests, they might not be contacts much longer. People want messages that are relevant to them. That’s where segmentation can be one of your most helpful marketing tools.

ActiveCampaign Customer Enablement Specialists Molly Tierney and Rob Girvin hosted a webinar all about the power of segmentation for your marketing.

Watch the webinar recording above or read the recap below to learn:

  • Why segmentation matters
  • 3 types of segmentation
  • A use case for segmentation: Back to the Fuschia

Why segmentation matters

“Say, for example, you are an e-commerce business who sells fuzzy socks, and you want to run a promotion for first-time purchasers so that they get a 15% discount. You don’t want to send that message to everybody – like people who’ve purchased in the past – and you don’t want to send that message in July. There’s not a hot market for fuzzy socks in July.”

“So you want to make sure that you’re sending and targeting that message to the newest customers or people who have not purchased yet. And maybe wait until October or November when the weather starts to turn a little bit. That’s just one example of how segmentation really matters,” says Molly.

Who wants a message that’s no use to them?

Why is segmentation important?

  • 70% of millenials are willing to let retailers track their browsing and shopping behaviors in exchange for a better shopping experience.
  • 70% of millenials are frustrated with brands sending them irrelevant marketing emails and prefer personalized emails over batch and blast communications
  • The Top five benefits of personalization include increased visitor engagement (55%), improved customer experience (55%), improved brand perception (39%), increased conversion rates (51%) and increased lead generation and customer acquisition (46%)

“People want you to segment and send them more relevant material. It’s going to make them open your emails, click on your emails, it’s going to make them trust you a lot more,” notes Molly.

“Very few things will matter in ActiveCampaign if you don’t use segmentation correctly. Our software is extremely powerful. There’s so many different things that you can do with it. If you’re not actually putting in the work to get this done correctly, those emails just might not matter as much to your customers. And all of the work that you’re doing behind the scenes won’t impact them the way that you want it to.”

3 types of segmentation in ActiveCampaign

“We’re going to begin talking about just the 3 basic components of segmentation and ActiveCampaign. And those are lists, tags, and custom fields. So let’s go into those,” says Rob.

  1. Lists
  2. Tags
  3. Custom Fields

1. Lists

What are the characteristics of a list? Lists are…

  • One of the broadest segmentation categories
  • Internal only (your contacts don’t see what list they’re on)
  • Necessary for sending emails

“In ActiveCampaign, an active contact is a contact who is on the list. That’s someone who’s opted in, and you can be sending to them. So they are really important,” says Rob.

Best Practice: The fewer lists you have, the better. You want to keep people on one list.

To decide whether someone needs to be on more than one list, a good trick of the trade is to separate contacts on lists by contact experience (i.e. Prospect List and Customer List, German Speaking List and Spanish Speaking List, B2B and B2C).

In ActiveCampaign, there are 2 ways to see what lists you have and who is on which ones:

  1. A contact’s profile
  2. Under the “Lists” section of the platform

You can find lists in the contact’s profile.

You can also find lists in the “Lists” section of the platform.

“Moving somebody from one list to another or moving someone off of the list is actually an unsubscribe. And while this isn’t going to really mess with your deliverability, it will kind of affect your reporting,” says Rob.

“You’ll see one day you had 300 and some odd unsubscribes, and you’ll be freaking out. But that was just because you moved one to another list. There are plenty of people who use a lot of lists in ActiveCampaign, we’re just going to really encourage you to just keep those focused and broad.”

2. Tags

“Tags are awesome. They’re super flexible, and easily added and removed, they reflect temporary data, and really can show us the relationship with your contacts. And so I like them a lot because they can trigger automations, they can do a lot of things that lists can do, but they really don’t leave a record of being there,” shares Rob.

What are the characteristics of tags?

  • Flexible: tags can be easily added and removed
  • Tags reflect temporary data and contact’s journey/relationship with your company
  • Tags can only be seen internally

Tag categories can include (but are not limited to):

  1. Action
  2. Interest
  3. Source
  4. Status

“Action is maybe a purchase they made, or they click the link. Interest, they showed interest in a product you had. Maybe they came in through a certain lead generation. So you want to know if this person is interested in a specific product that you offer. Another thing is source – maybe this person came from Facebook, and we want to know that. So we’re going to give them a Facebook tag to know where they came from. These are all valuable to your experience. We don’t have set tags, you create these. The last one is status – maybe this person is engaged or disengaged, maybe this is a prospect or client,” shares Rob.

You can find and create tags in 2 places in ActiveCampaign:

  1. A contact’s profile
  2. In the sub-menu of Contacts in the sidebar menu

Where you can see tags in the contact’s profile.

Find tags in the sub-menu of the “Contacts” section.

3. Custom Fields

What are custom fields for?

  • Used for storing and representing contact data
  • Custom fields are more granular; they tell the “whole story”
  • Custom fields are external: Can be used in Forms and brought into Emails using “Personalization Tags”

“We can use those different fields in different ways to be able to, again, automate a great experience and market to them very personally,” says Rob.

There are tons of different types of custom fields:

  • Dates, like birthdays
  • Checkboxes
  • Text boxes

You can access Custom Fields in 2 places inside ActiveCampaign:

  1. In the contact’s profile
  2. In the Forms section under “Manage Fields”

Custom fields visible in the contact’s profile.

In the “Forms” section under “Manage Fields”

Segmentation use case: Back to the Fuschia

“We’re going to be going through what a flower shop owner may do in order to segment their contacts and send more relevant marketing material to them,” says Molly.

Back to the Fuschia uses list, tags, and custom fields to segment their messaging to their contacts.

Back to the Fuschia segmentation at work.

“We do usually like to recommend having an all-encompassing master list in the account. That way we can ensure no matter what everybody at least lives on one list so that we can send campaigns to them,” says Molly.

If Back to Fuschia wants to create a list of customers who have bought already, they can do it like this:

Create broader lists to help segment your contacts.

“If you ever wanted to create a new list, we can do that right here. And I’m just going to call this one Back to the Fuschia customer list. The List URL would just be the website domain. The List Description is how you want ActiveCampaign to know where these people came from. So we could say, “they have made a purchase on our website.”

“Keep in mind that list name and list description can potentially be customer facing. So make sure that you aren’t naming your list or this list description something you would not want your customers to see. It’s that simple adding in a list,” says Molly.

Then Back to the Fuschia can use tags, like “Fall Pumpkin Patch” or others, to further segment who gets which emails:

This list of tags can help you send the right offers to the right people.

“Maybe you have a tag based on where that contact came from kind of like Rob was talking earlier. You may have a tag for a specific event that they came to As we mentioned earlier, so that would be again be you know, you put those people on your event attendees broad list, but you tag them based on which event they went to. That way next year, maybe when the fall comes, you can target these people again, because you knew they came to your fall event last year,” says Molly.

“These tags get a little bit more specific; they let us know more about the contact.”

Then there’s custom fields.

“A lot of times people will think of custom fields as being like the DNA of the contact.”

“Here’s what you might ask on a form if you were a flower shop business. Are you wanting to pick the flowers up? Or have them delivered? When do you need the flowers?”

Custom fields can help you get much more detailed information about your contacts.

A question like when you need the flowers by could be a date-based field. Then you can run some automations based on that. For example, 10 days before their pickup date, maybe you send them some type of email, maybe 10 days after we send them an email asking for a review.”

Segmentation is like getting the answers at the back of the book. You know the problem so much better (and how to solve it) when you have the information you need to approach it.