How Dynamics 365 Marketing Segments Compare with Marketing Lists

Segment card

An important difference between Dynamics 365 Marketing and the marketing capabilities of Dynamics 365 Sales is the process for defining campaign audiences.

Marketing Lists, in Dynamics 365 Sales, use Advanced Find queries to determine members for contacts, accounts or leads. Queries can reference field values for any searchable data across related tables/entities stored in Dataverse. Once created, lists can be used in Quick Campaigns.

In Dynamics 365 Marketing, Segments are used to define a target audience that will be applied to a customer journey. Each segment is a collection of related contacts which can be used individually or combined with other segments.

One concept similar to Marketing Lists is the use of static and dynamic segments. Static segments are a manual list of contacts that are selected by a user or matched through a query. Dynamic segments are constantly updated, as data is updated, to add or remove members in line with membership rules.

There are other similarities, but two crucial differences in Dynamics 365 Marketing Segments are:

  • Greater flexibility to define an audience using broader criteria that supports complex query rules.
  • The ability to filter audiences using behavioural data including email clicks and web page views.

Demonstrating Marketing Segments for Dynamics 365

Greater Query Flexibility

Advanced Find queries are effective in finding contact list members who positively match a field value rule, but these can prove less flexible when there is a need to include exception terms.

This may limit the effectiveness of Advanced Find queries when building complex audience definitions. For example, if an audience should be defined by intersecting two query groups where contacts should only be matched if they are members of each group, or excluded if they belong to the second group.

In the example shown below, two query groups are combined to create a dynamic Segment where membership rules are defined by active contacts based in London, but any contacts associated with accounts operating in the financial sector will be excluded:

Mktg query 3

The ‘But Not’ expression enables these two query groups to be used in combination to create a single dynamic or static Segment. If a marketing list was used, a similar result could only be achieved by creating a static list using the initial profile rule and then subsequently applying a separate query to remove any contacts that match the exclusion terms.

Existing segments can be mixed within a new query to create a compound segment. These can also be combined with other blocks and logical operators such as ‘or’ (union), ‘and also’ (intersect) and ‘but not’ (exclude), to build advanced audience segment definitions which can’t be achieved using standard marketing lists.

Using Behavioural Data in Segment Queries

Dynamics 365 Sales tracks minimal behaviour data, unless a marketing automation solution is connected, which further limits the flexibility and reach of Advanced Find queries. By contrast, Dynamics 365 Marketing works across numerous interaction records to build audiences which are supported by behavioural segment rules.

The segment designer is the only tool to query records that have been stored in Microsoft's marketing-insights service which tracks interactions in response to an activity in Dynamics 365 Marketing. These records are created automatically and are associated with a related contact including, emails opened and web forms submitted.

By combining criteria from a contact record with behavioural data, targeted audiences can be quickly segmented to help marketers achieve positive outcomes by sending personalised and timely messages.

In the example below, segment rules have been set to identify marketing managers who clicked on a specific marketing email called "Latest news":

Mktg ss

More Segment Features

On each segment form, marketers can quickly check the estimated size of the contact segment by refreshing the estimated reach. Compared to Marketing Lists, these results are completed on the same screen, without the need to open a separate results pane. Because Segments run on the Microsoft marketing-insights service, it can process larger volumes of data in just a few seconds without affecting performance of other Dynamics functions.

Another difference in comparison to Advanced Find queries is support for natural language queries within segments. Once enabled, this input enables marketers to use common words and expressions to describe the contacts who should be included in dynamic and static segments.

In the example shown below, Dynamics 365 Marketing has extracted three query terms from a single line of text to create a new segment rule:

Nlq eg newc

A further time-saving aid are prebuilt Segment Templates for D365 Marketing that cover a series of frequent audience definitions. These include demographic and behavioural queries, as well as query rules which traverse multiple tables / entities. By starting with a ready-made template, marketers can edit and fine-tune this criteria as required.

When working on complex queries which span multiple entities, the ‘Explore related entities’ option, is a handy visualisation that illustrates how individual entities relate back to the contact, and to each other in your environment.

Related entities

This is an important consideration because all segment queries must end with the contact entity. Any rule that starts with a non-contact entity must eventually traverse back to the contact entity. However, by starting with a contact entity, users can remain there by referencing related entities as nested groups. This allows hops to be made between entities using a relationship.

Marketing segments are designed to be applied to Customer Journeys where marketers will route these members through a content sequence which can include marketing emails, landing pages and forms.

Each customer journey can include one, or more live segments and these can also be combined to define the starting criteria. In the example below, an intersect rule is applied to combine a Maidenhead contact segment with a Director segment to define a narrower audience of Directors:


A visual representation of how each segment query block combines with another is displayed as a Sankey flow diagram, as shown below:

Flow diag mktg

Find out more

These are just a few examples to demonstrate how Segments go beyond the capabilities of Advanced Queries and Marketing Lists. Contact Preact today to learn more about Segments and the wider benefits of Dynamics 365 Marketing.

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