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Digital Marketing - Study Notes:

What is database segmentation?

Segmentation is critical to understanding how to deliver the right content to the right people at the right time. When you have a website with a marketing automation platform behind it, you will be able to create that smart content I mentioned earlier, as in surfacing one version of a web page versus another to the right kind of people in the right way.

This is why correctly segmenting is so important, and segmentation done well is based on contact properties done well.

Gathered data

You can only segment based on data you have gathered. That sounds obvious but it’s true. You may have ideas around what you would like to segment around but if you have not actively gathered that data, and if that data’s not accurate, you are not going to be able to do good segmentation.

Aim of segmentation

Segmentation will inform how powerful your email marketing will be. It will inform how well your personalization across your website will be. It will even inform how well you perform on paid social media ads.

Try to understand from the beginning that what you aim for needs to be achievable:

  • Can you get that data?
  • Why do you need to segment it in the first place?
  • What will this segment do?
  • Why do you need to have that segment?

Again, it’s about choosing the right things to gather data on and create, rather than spending time on things that are not related to your goals.


Consider this example of basic segmentation by life cycle stage.

We have three personas but also the three life cycle stages, because each persona can have a different life cycle stage. Your segments basically have data in common. For example, Foodie Frank is on the list because he has chosen from a form that he is interested in researching new ways of cooking food. Gina is in a separate list because she has clicked that she is on the website to understand about gluten-free recipes. And Diabetic Didi is in another list because she has clicked on the drop down that she’s interested in the website because it tells her about diabetes. You will not want to serve the same content for someone looking for information on diabetic food, as you would someone looking for gluten-free food – it doesn’t make sense. And then Foodie Frank, well, he’s just interested in food in general. This is why you need to separate them out and why they make sense.

Segmentation is very much web designing and delivering custom content, custom website experiences that work best for your particular visitors at their particular life cycle stage. For example, Frank is a visitor. He’ll get general content about what he’s looking for. Gina, who’s an opportunity, will get more specific things about what you’re offering but not a full on sales pitch. And Didi will get items that will help her spread the word about how great your company is.

Life cycle stages

So what differentiates your life cycle stages? Well, this will be very individual to each business. You can’t just take what another company is doing and apply it to yours. Throughout your data gathering, your tracking, your reporting, your analysis, looking at historical data, looking at how your companies are performing. All of these things will culminate in telling you exactly how a person arrived at your website, which source was the best, and what were the best things to make them convert down that funnel.

It goes from awareness all the way down to advocacy:

  • Awareness: PR, TV, and radio
  • Consideration: Social ads, reviews, and the blog
  • Purchase: An e-commerce store in a website
  • Retention: A community forum or a FAQ section
  • Advocacy: A blog, again, in social networks, and the newsletter

This is not the only way to do it. This is an example of how you can do it, but it shows you all the potential formats of content that can assist in an inbound funnel.


Hyper-targeting segments and using multiple contact properties can be very powerful if you know exactly what you’re using them for. They must be built around a very specific goal in order for it to work well. You can combine as many contact properties as you wish to create extremely targeted segments for your specific campaign goals. It’s really up to you what those could be but make sure that they’re tied to your KPIs and SLA.

Distinct segments

Make sure that your segments are actually segments. Make sure they are actually distinct from one another. Make sure that there is not so much overlap that they may as well be the same list. Your list will be based off the explicit and the implicit data. Again, explicit is the information directly given over by this website visitor, implicit is the behavior you’ve observed and the information you’ve gathered externally, which combined, give you the insight into who they are and why they do what they do.

Your segments will be taking those distinct groups of people who are particular leads with particular characteristics that should be built around your persona, or in the very case, help you identify how to improve your persona.

Complex segmentation

As you become more and more accustomed to segmentation, segmenting by life cycle stage and segmenting by persona, when you’ve understood how that all comes together combined, it is exceptionally powerful to create that very, very efficient funnel from start to end. You will know exactly which channels work best for you. You will know exactly where money is best spent. So this is how it all comes together and improves the revenue of your company, the ROI of your marketing.

Segmentation properties

Your segmentation properties could be:

  • IP location: For example, if you are a restaurant, location is critical to the success of your business. You need people to actually go there.
  • Browser language: If you are offering language services, translation services, courses, there’s a plethora of things browser language is relevant for. You will need to know that and segment by that in order to have effective marketing.
  • Age and gender: These are the more traditional demographic data. However, if you are selling toys, you may want to be targeting married couples with young kids instead of single people – it just makes sense.
  • Browser type and version: This might be important if you are giving interactive data or selling software, because you will need to make sure it’s performing well on all supported browsers and versions, so that would be critical segmentation data for you.
  • Device: Segmenting by device can become very important over the next few years. You need to discover if this is relevant to you in order to serve up the right version of your web page or at the right amount of content per device, per browser. You’re going to have to consider screen size, screen resolution, and if some browsers run some scripts and some don’t. It’s a very important one to explore.
  • Source: You might find that people coming from email as opposed to people coming from social media requires slightly different kind of marketing, and are more likely to convert if they have a slightly different experience.

Again, you’re going to have to experiment with all of these different segmentation possibilities to understand which works for you. This is just a list of some of the most popular ones out there.

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Andrea Francis

Inbound marketing manager @ Poppulo

  • Inbound marketing manager in employee communications technology 
  • Worked at Relayr as a senior marketing manager, creating and implementing a global inbound marketing strategy
  • Worked with Hubspot as a marketing manager and funnel optimization specialist focusing on converting leads to qualified leads for the EMEA region
  • Content marketing and blogging with various SaaS startups at Startupbootcamp Amsterdam

Data protection regulations affect almost all aspects of digital marketing. Therefore, DMI has produced a short course on GDPR for all of our students. If you wish to learn more about GDPR, you can do so here:

DMI Short Course: GDPR

The following pieces of content from the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library have been chosen to offer additional material that you might find interesting or insightful.

You can find more information and content like this on the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library

You will not be assessed on this content in your final exam.


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    This module begins with the fundamentals of marketing automation and looks at how businesses are using marketing automation tools with CRM software to create significant sales enablement, lead nurturing, and customer relationship management opportunities. It provides in-depth coverage on generating, managing, and nurturing leads, including topics on importing and managing contact lists, lead scoring and tracking, segmentation, retargeting, and using marketing automation data and social media automation tools to drive campaigns and to detect new business opportunities.