The Difference Between Segments and Lists

What is a segment?

Unlike a traditional subscriber list, segments are defined by a set of conditions. For example, a segment could include everyone who's ever purchased, visited your website last week, or opened a specific email. Segments are typically used in three ways: 

  1. To send targeted campaigns
    Instead of sending a campaign to your entire newsletter list, you can use a segment to build meaningful cross-sections of your list to which you can send more relevant content; i.e. you could contact everyone on your newsletter list who also opened an email from you in the past 30 days.
  2. To trigger email flows
    If you would like to trigger an automated email flow whenever someone meets a set of conditions (i.e. has made exactly one purchase) for the first time, you can use a segment as the flow trigger.
  3. For analysis
    Since segments are automatically updated in real-time, they provide an easy way to see what's going on with your audience.

Lists vs. Segments

If you explore the Lists & Segments tab of our account, you will see and be able to create both lists and segments:

  • Lists are used by almost all ESPs -- they're a collection people's email addresses grouped under an identifiable label; you can add people to a list manually, or people can join a list themselves by subscribing through a form
  • Segments are defined by a set of conditions, as explained above, rather than a fixed list of people -- a segment will grow as new people meet the conditions and shrink as people no longer meet them

Lists are used for growing an audience that you can then keep in touch with through automated flows and campaigns.

Segments can be used to help with a variety of additional marketing efforts:

  • List cleaning
    People on your email list who have received but not opened your last 20 emails should be segmented out of the main list you send to, for example.
  • Cross-sell
    Build a segment of people who bought a specific product but have not purchased one or more related products.
  • Marketing
    Build a segment of people who have never purchased from a specific category or visited certain pages on your website.
  • Loyalty programs
    Build a segment of people who have spent over a certain threshold.

Segments, unlike lists, will automatically curate from all people in your account based on the conditions you establish -- this is why it is important to confine your segments to a specific list (like your newsletter list) if you are going to send them an email campaign. Otherwise, segments will pull from everyone in your account, including people who have not necessarily opted in to receive marketing emails from you.

 

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