Good marketing is hugely dependent on data quality and how you use that data. Early in any campaign planning should be an understanding of your audience and a segment build in your email marketing or marketing automation program.

If you are diving into segmentation for the first time, or if you just need a fresh look at how to build your segments, consider these five potential filters.

Customer v Prospect

Filter number one for any campaign should be customer v prospect. Even if you are ultimately sending both audiences the same asset, your framing of it will differ based on their relationship to your company.

Job Function

At my current job, this is definitely the most important filter after customer v prospect. For us its because we sell a variety of products and they meet different needs within an organization. It would be silly, for example, to send an email about accounting software to someone who manages conferences and tradeshows.

Even if your company only sells one product, how and why it would be purchased will differ by the individual’s job function. For example’s sake, let’s say you sell a social media monitoring tool. Naturally, most of your database is marketing professionals so it may be tempting to say “they all have the same job function.” But there are so many nuisances within marketing (and any broad bucket like that). Social media managers, public relations managers, web site managers, one-man-band marketing managers are all going to be considering that same product through a different lens and thus warrant somewhat different communication.

Job Level

This is a very similar conversation to job function but also goes to purchasing authority. An associate, a manager, a director, a VP all have very different purchasing authority and your messaging (and therefore your segment) should align to that.

Last Email Sent

Often if you dig into the nitty gritty of your database, you’ll find that some people have received way more emails than you intended. They may, rightfully or wrongfully, belong to a few segments in your database and thus be getting a lot of communication from you. A nice safety net so you don’t become super annoying is to create and exclude a filter for “sent email within past X days.” You don’t necessarily exclude this filter with every email but it can be a good catch for keeping annoyances at a minimum.

Previous Engagement

Previous engagement is such a wonderfully geeky filter. You can make this as simple or as complex as you want it to be. The basic nuts and bolts are you want to communicate differently to someone who is incredibly engaged v someone you aren’t sure is even a living person. It doesn’t make sense to send an ice cold prospect your product brochure just like it doesn’t make sense to send a deeply engaged lead an asset they have already downloaded. Consider filters like “downloaded X asset” “visited website Y times” or “clicked on Z emails” for excludes or includes to help refine your audience by their engagement level.

These are just five of the filters you could use. Acquisition source, location and others can build your segments in an even more precise way. With a robust system, the opportunities are nearly endless.