I am about to take the MB2-719 certification, this certification covers the Dynamics 365 for Marketing Application. I plan to create a series of blog posts that collectively should help anyone else preparing for this exam. In my first post we reviewed the initial install process. Now we have a working Marketing application I plan to explain concept around segments.
As I often do I first reviewed what the skills measured indicates I need to review around segments. The word segment is actually mentioned 11 times. Meaning segmentation is not only core to Dynamics 365 for Marketing but also a key subject for the MB2-719 exam.
Segments allow us to define the “targets” for our marketing campaigns. By segmenting our data we can help ensure the right marketing messages are sent to the right contacts and therefore create a more personalised experience for contacts. And ultimately (hopefully) achieve a greater response / conversion rate to our campaigns.
These segments will be used in customer journeys and subscription lists. Segments can be thought of as lists of contacts who you wish to nurture in marketing campaigns.
Customer journeys are made up of a number of tiles that help progress contacts within a nurturing campaign. When we review customer journeys you will see that most of them will start with a segment “tile”.
We can also use subscription lists (marketing lists) in the subscription center to allow contacts to opt-in or opt-out of various types of communications. (I will cover subscription centers is a future post.)
Dynamics for Customer Insights (DCI)
It is important to understand that segments work seamlessly with Dynamics 365 for Customer Insights. Your customer data will be synchronised with DCI and any other data you wish to use to segment contacts. The powerful data processing power of DCI is then used to actually segment your contacts based on the segment definitions you’ll create in Dynamics 365.
Types of segments
We have three types of segments, dynamics, static and compound.
Dynamic – created by defining a dynamic query that “filters” contacts. You could for example create a segment for all contacts from London. As new contacts are added to contacts move address the member of the segment would alter.
Static – lists of contacts that are manually added on a per-contact basis. The member of these segments do not change, unless someone manually edits the contacts included in the segment.
- Compound – A compound segment is a segment made up of other segments. By combining segments we can create a single segment that includes and excludes from various groups.
Before continuing some background / definition of who our customer is might be important. Customers are effectively represented using three entities … contacts, accounts and leads. Understanding a definition of each is essential.
If you have previously studied Dynamics 365 for Sales you may have a slightly different interpretation of the lead entity in your mind.
Contacts – contacts are the primary entity in Dynamics 365 for Marketing. Contacts represent the people that you wish to market to. These people maybe end consumers not linked to accounts or might be part of an organisation. Contacts make up our marketing segments and will become the subject of our customer journeys within Dynamics 365 for Marketing.
Accounts – accounts are the organisations or companies that we wish to market into. Accounts will have contacts (people) working for them. So it is actually the contacts that we will target. (Note: When the MB2-719 exam was created you could only market to contacts. Later versions of Dynamics 365 for Marketing are introducing the ability to directly target accounts. However, in terms of the exam contacts is the only entity we directly interact with.)
Leads – Leads are expressions of interest by contacts in a particular product or service. Leads can be scored and will later become sales ready (or not). Leads maybe created manually or automatically via customer journeys or captured via landing pages.
I describe this relationship as someone familiar with Dynamics for Sales and its lead qualification process may have a slightly different concept in mind. As within the sales module you could have a lead without an associated contact. Leads are then qualified into contacts / accounts. However, in the context of marketing we always target contacts. Meaning leads are always associated with a contact. Contacts are therefore the primary entity that we target and each contact could be associated with multiple leads.
Create / Maintain Segments
At this point, I am going to encourage you to gain as much hands on experience as part of your preparation for the MB2-719 as possible. I will describe the concepts connected with segments but you will only gain a true understanding by actually creating them!
You access the segments option within Dynamics 365 for Marketing from the segments option. (shown below)
I will attempt to describe each tab within the segment forms below. The process is that you create your segment, define a definition, check it for errors and then make in live .To edit a segment, once live you will need to stop it.
As the name suggests the general tab allows us to define general information about the segment. Including its name, segment type, description and shows us the activations status.
Name – the name of the segment. It must be unique and also must not contain spaces or special characters. (Although you can use underscores as spaces if you wish!)
Segment Type – Segments can be dynamic, static or compound. Each one will have a different approach to creation of the definition. (As covered below.)
Description – a test comment explaining why you have created this segment or its contents maybe useful. (optional field)
Activation Status – will initially be draft. Later will change to live. Or stopping / stopped if the stop option is used. Once made live the name, segment type and description can no longer be changed. (But you can edit the definition on a stopped segment!)
if you try to save a segment without completing the definition you will see an error. Therefore the definition must be created before initial save.
The definition tab will “behave” differently depending on the segment type. I will therefore cover each segment type in turn.
The simplest type of segment are static segments. You create these by simply selecting individual contacts (members). Whilst creating a static segment you filter contacts and then manually tick the contacts to include.
Dynamics segments involve defining a query definition, then contacts are added / removed into the segment dynamically based on the attributes your include in the query. Whilst defining the definition of a dynamics query we have three additional “sub tabs”, designer, flow and query.
The design tab is the one I most often use! Here we can define the query that will return contacts. Groups of queries can be added to allow us to include / exclude contacts based on whatever filtering we define.
Often the query in the design will only need to make use of the contact entity. But other entities in Dynamics 365 for Customer Insights can be included in the query. When doing this the explore button maybe useful to see a graphical representation of the relationships involved / available in the query.
Additionally, whilst creating segments you can use the “Get estimated segment size” option to provide a “guess” as to the resulting segment size. This is useful to sense check that your segment is going to return the expected volume of contacts.
The flow tab provides us a useful representation of the logic to include (union) or exclude members from the query. This is very useful when adding multiple groups into the query. So that the union, excluded and intersect logic can be clearly seen.
The final “sub tab” in the definition is “Query”. This can be used to see a simple text description of the query. User familiar with the query language can alter or create queries directly in this test window.
A not about your queries …. The point of a segment is to return contacts that can be targeted for marketing. Therefore the each group in your segment must return contacts. This doesn’t prevent you from working with other entities! Below you can see that I have created a query that searches for resolved cases. It then includes details of which relationship to join cases and contacts. Then the contact “All*” part of the query will return the resulting contacts. (Rather that “All*”, I could have enter further filtering!)
Finally let’s consider compound segments, these are actually the combination of multiple segments to create a new compound query. Within the definition of a compound segment you can list the segments to include and if you wish to apply union, exclude or intersect logic.
- Union – any contact that is on at least one of the child segments will be included in the customer journey, but contacts that appear on more than one child segment will still be processed just once.
- Exclude – acts as a suppression of the logic.
- Intersect – only contacts that appear on all child segments will be targeted, so customers that appear on just one of the lists will be ignored.
Once your segment is live a members tabs will show.
Tip: After clicking “Go Live”, you may need to close and re-open your segment to see the member tab!
Don’t forget that the members of dynamics and compound segments will be changeable. As new contacts are created or existing ones change they may be included or excluded into existing segments.
As mentioned above the number of contacts within your segment could change over time. The insights tab provides a graphic that shows the number of contacts by time. This is useful for you to see changes in contact volume over a period of time.
If you’d like to dive deeper into segments, this information on docs.microsoft.com may be one good source of information;
Segments are a big topics and a very important one for your MB2-719 revision. (Don’t forget I opened this post by commenting that the word segment shows 11 times in the skills measured statement!) Hopefully this post has given you a good introduction to segments but you should gain a significant amount of hands on experience with creating various types of segments!