Segmentation Foundations: 3 Tips to Keep Your Contact Database Organized and Clean

Segmentation has been one of the most confusing areas of marketing. Feel free to ask a room of diverse marketers if they have a good handle on segmenting their contact database, and you will get a mixed response.

It’s even worse with a room full of entrepreneurs.

The reason being…it’s never been required. You have been able to generate massive leads with basic management of them and still produce sizable results. Unfortunately, those days are long gone.

Those were the same days that allowed you to send email blasts to your entire list without penalty. Those were the same days when only a fraction of the entrepreneur population even knew what an autoresponder was. Lastly, those were the days where selling something online was like magic to the average person.

It’s all commonplace now. Furthermore, it’s all being misused far more often than being used.

But it doesn’t have to be!

You can learn to truly leverage the power of segmentation without becoming a digital marketing expert or some data engineering guru. You simply need a plan.

In this article, you will be given the foundation of such a plan. It will uncover three foundational steps towards consistently segmenting your contact database for profit generation.

Be Proactive

The first step is to think ahead. Or like Stephen Covey states in his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, “begin with the end in mind” (my Sliced Bread Approach was created based on this theory).

With respect to segmentation, you need to be proactive in planning your customer avatar. That is all the information that is required for you to make the quickest sale possible. Though you may be familiar with an avatar exercise, you may have never thought of mapping out all the information that identifies when that avatar has shown up in your database.

This can only be done with an intentional, proactive mapping, of all the required information and noting when that information will be captured. For instance, upon initial opt-in, you may capture 3 of 7 necessary pieces of information. However, throughout your email follow up sequence you may capture the remaining 4 pieces of information for you to be able to make a sale.

Having this all mapped out in advance will make your segmentation more effective as well as your overall marketing automation.

Separate Your Leads and Customers

Though leads and customers can exist in the same house, they should reside in different rooms. Although you may have communication that is intended for both groups to hear, they still need to remain separate in your database.

This is primarily done in two ways:

  1. Separate by lists – a separate list for both leads and contacts
  2. Separate by tags within a list – as single list for both leads and contacts but a “Customer Tag” differentiates them

The method you use will be highly dependent on your software. Some email marketing platforms have only lists, and some have none.

Implementing Segmentation In Your Software
If you’re ever confused about how to best leverage your email marketing platform, consider joining the Automation Bridge Academy to get access to courses, community, and collaboration to help guide you.

Keep Separating Leads and Customers

In my experience, most businesses stop at segmenting leads from customers. However, I recommend that you keep going.

Leads and customers now serve as your large audiences. The true value is segmenting those down further to smaller audiences that you can speak very specifically to.

Perhaps you can group leads by email engagement recency, events attended, or forms completed. Based on those actions (or information from these actions), you will be able to create more targeted lead audiences.

You can group customers by products purchased, last purchase date, total amount spent, and much more. With a strategic approach, you can start turning your customers into repeat customers.


In closing remember, the process in doing laying this foundation will differ depending on your platform but the foundational steps do not. The sooner you get this foundation in place the easier it will be to manage your database effectively at its current size and figure size (no matter how big it gets!)

Chris Davis

About the Author

Chris is the founder of Automation Bridge and Host of the All Systems Go! podcast. He has helped marketing tech startups raise a collective amount of funding over $237 million is passionate about helping you do the same.

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