Automate Audience Segmentation

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • Describe two ways you can automate segmentation.
  • Automate segmentation with a filter activity.

The Main Event

Automation is what it’s all about. As your marketing efforts grow, you have to scale up in a way that saves time, money, staff time, and resources. Automation does just that. It’s likely why you’d acquire a product like Marketing Cloud to begin with.

There are several ways you can automate segmentation in Marketing Cloud: filter activities, query activities, and Audience Builder. We focus on filter activities, since they are the most common way to segment an audience.

Creating a Filter Activity

Automating segmentation with a filter activity is a two-step process. First, you define which filter is used—the filter activity. Next, you schedule the filter activity to run—the automation. That step comes in handy when you have a large number of customer transactions or interactions each day.

Paulo created a data filter for his new Northern Trail Outfitters birthday campaign. Here's how he creates a filter activity that applies the data filter.

  1. Hover over the Salesforce blue cloud to display the main Marketing Cloud navigation bar.
  2. Hover over Journey Builder.
  3. Select Automation Studio.
  4. Click Activities.
  5. Click Create Activity.
  6. Select Filter.
  7. Click Next.
  8. Configure the filter activity properties.
    • Name: Birthday of Today Filter Activity.
    • External Key: Enter a key or leave this blank.
    • Description: Enter a description.
    • In the Filter Definition section, click the Data Filters folder and select the Birthday of Today data filter.
  9. Click Next.
  10. Configure the resulting data extension.
    • Name: Weekly Promotion Birthday of Today.
    • External Key: Enter a key or leave this blank.
    • Description: Enter a description.
      • Note: This step creates the data extension that contains your filtered data. Each time the filter activity runs, the data refreshes to here.
  11. Click Next.
  12. Click Finish.

Check out this video to see creating the filter activity in action.

Creating the Automation

Paulo has created his import and filter activities. Now he’s ready to schedule them for use with an automation.

In Automation Studio:

  1. Select Overview.
  2. Click New Automation.
  3. In the Untitled Automation field, enter Birthday Campaign Automation.
  4. Drag and drop Schedule to Start with a Starting Source. Or, you can choose File Drop if you want the automation to run based on a file drop.
    • Click Configure.
    • Choose a start date and time.
      • Note that the start date must be after current date and time.
    • Set the time zone.
    • Choose Daily from the repeat picklist.
    • Choose Never from the end picklist.
    • Click Done.
  5. Drag Import File from the Activities section onto the canvas under Workflow.
  6. Click Choose.
  7. Select the import activity you created in unit 2.
  8. Click Done.
  9. Drag Filter from the Activities section onto the canvas under Workflow after the import activity.
  10. Click Choose.
  11. Select the filter activity you just created: Birthday of Today Filter Activity.
  12. Click Done.
  13. Click Save.

Check out this video to see automating the import and filter activities in action.

That’s it. Now Paulo has an import and data filter that refreshes daily for his new birthday campaign. Easy peasy.

Activation is the final step.

  1. Under Schedule, select Active.
  2. Click Activate.
    • Note: Once activated, this automation will run indefinitely until you pause it. If you prefer to test it first, select None (run once) in the Schedule step, and then click Run Once after the final Save step.

Query Activities and Audience Builder

Automating segmentation with a query activity is slightly more involved, since it requires experience with SQL. However, it has a number of benefits. For example—more complex segmentation—because with queries, you can evaluate more than one data extension at a time. You can learn more about using query activities for segmentation in the Trailblazer Community.

What if you want the complexity in segmentation but don’t have anyone who can write SQL? We have you covered there too, with Audience Builder. The Audience Builder app has an intuitive, easy-to-use interface that lets you automate segmentation of your subscribers in more sophisticated ways, giving you a deep understanding of your customers’ attributes and behavior. That, in turn, helps you better target your email sends. You can learn more about using Audience Builder for segmentation in the Trailblazer Community.

Throughout this module, you’ve learned the importance of audience segmentation, how to organize your data, and how to create a simple import activity. You’ve also learned about various segmentation tools, in particular data filters, and how to automate segmentation with filter activities and automations.

Now you’re ready to start successfully segmenting your subscribers, ensuring the right message to the right person at the right time!


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