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Data Segmentation Tools, a Comparison of Salesforce Marketing Cloud Solutions

Data Segmentation Tools a Comparison | DESelect

Marketing teams must find efficient and effective methods to reach their audience quickly for every campaign they launch. Salesforce Marketing Cloud (SFMC) segmentation tools make collecting this data easier than ever. 

You basically have three solutions available:

  • No-code solutions, like using SF filters, SF Reports, or Excel, to name a few
  • Coding solutions, like SQL, Query Studio, or SAS
  • Hiring external help, like full-time employees (FTE) or system integrators

Choosing the best audience segmentation approach for your organization means knowing the advantages and disadvantages of each of these solutions.

This in-depth guide will give you all the information you need to decide which segmentation tools will work best for you and your marketing team.

What are the Key Features of SFMC Segmentation Solutions?

Here are some of the features of SFMC segmentations tools you should check:

Ramp-up time & Implementation

The amount of time it takes to prepare and integrate the segmentation tool into your current campaign module. Knowing the amount of time required to complete this process is vital to determine which tool will work best for your organization.

Data storage

The amount of data storage you need will determine which solution is best for your audience segmentations. Furthermore, consider whether additional storage costs are acceptable if you need to scale up as your leads list grows.

Experience/Skills Required

The skill level of the marketer running these segmentation tools will affect the time it takes to launch a campaign. It will also affect costs, as these tasks take away from more cost-effective tasks marketers must do, like content creation.

Pricing

The price point should be within your budget. However, consider the adage “you get what you pay for,” and free is not always a “good price.”

Data Processing Speed

Waiting for hours or even an entire business day can seem like an excessive amount of time in terms of how long processing segmented data can take. Immediate data processing speed will help you launch your campaigns faster and reach your audience more effectively.

Data Accessibility

Being able to get to the data at any time of the day will help your team launch a more effective campaign.

Data Sources

How you can retrieve the data will determine which segmentation tool will work best for your organization. There are only a few that don’t offer easy access to data views. So, pay attention to the data source.

Flexible Data Model Adjustment for Marketers

You and your team may need to adjust the data models from time to time. If you have to wait for this information from an admin or if it isn’t available, it may delay campaign launches.

Data Availability for Segmentation

One crucial aspect to consider is whether there are limits on data availability and how often you can access this data if limitations apply. Segmentation without limits and in real time is the most desired outcome.

Integration with SFMC

How easy do you want your segmentation solution to integrate with SFMC? There may seem to be an obvious answer, so pay close attention to this detail if SFMC integration is vital to your marketing operations.

User Experience

When considering user experience, determine whether the UI is user-friendly (if there is one) and how easy it is for you and your team to navigate. The comparison below will help you determine at a glance which segmentation tool will work for the issues and concerns that matter to you most. 

What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of These Salesforce Cloud Marketing Segmentation Tools?

Here are some key advantages and disadvantages of each of the SFMC segmentation tools available:

DESelect Segment

Advantages:

  • All data extension  types
  • Data views
  • Advanced segmentation (incl. CASE WHEN, Picklists, Subqueries, etc.)
  • Most cost-effective solution on the market
  • Support portal
  • Onboarding training
  • Release updates every two month
  • No implementation tracks
  • No external support required
  • Can be automated
  • No experience required
  • Can be used across several business units
  • And more

Disadvantages:

  • Data must be inside of SFMC
  • Same technical limits as SQL queries

Advantages:

  • Segments SFMC data
  • Has its own UI
  • No experience needed from marketers

Disadvantages:

  • Data is updated only once per 24 hours
  • No possibility to add new data extensions without Salesforce professionals
  • Expensive
  • Not flexible

Other concerns to consider:

This Salesforce solution requires a Salesforce professional’s help to set up the tool and configure dimensions. Also, it doesn’t suit flexible data models. 

*Salesforce has discontinued offering Audience Builder to new customers and continues to serve it only to it’s existing users

Query Studio

Advantages:

  • Help Write SQL
  • Handles errors
  • Preview options available
  • Free

Disadvantages:

  • Requires SQL knowledge
  • No UI – the console is more advanced
  • No automatic creation of data extensions 
  • No validation
  • No support
  • No features

Other concerns to consider:

Advanced knowledge of SQL is required, or you will need to use an SQL query generator. Since there is no UI, the console is difficult to use if you don’t have experience with that interface.

Writing SQL Queries

Advantages:

  • Customizable coding
  • Ability to write unique, tailored queries

Disadvantages:

  • Timeouts occur for data sets that are too long
  • Complex queries also cause timeouts
  • Time-consuming
  • Highly technical knowledge required

Other concerns to consider:

It takes a lot of time and effort to learn how to write SQL queries. You will need to learn SQL from scratch if you have no prior knowledge. You may request SQL from a tech team. However, coordinating communications to obtain the exact results is a challenge. 

Hiring an FTE

Advantages:

  • Advanced segmentation
  • Custom segmentation scenarios
  • Data model adjustments are possible

Disadvantages:

  • Needs to be trained
  • Can leave the company, creating a backlog
  • Limited availability
  • Expensive

Other concerns to consider:

If an organization hires an FTE for audience segmentation in SFMC campaigns, it may be prudent to sign a contract with them. If they leave, the organization will immediately require a new solution. However, it could take months to find, hire, and train a new FTE. 

Also, if the FTE is remote (as many are), time zones can be an issue. Marketers rely on the FTE to be available for segmentation purposes, and without that person, they cannot effectively run their campaigns. 

Sick time, vacations, and other time-off requests also become a concern for the organization if they hire an FTE for segmentation.

SAS EG/Google Cloud Platform

Advantages:

  • Advanced segmentation
  • Lead scoring
  • RFM scoring
  • And more

Disadvantages:

  • Even more complex than SQL
  • Require skilled FTEs
  • Expensive

Other concerns to consider:

SAS EG platforms rarely occur. However, they occur mostly for calculations and aggregations in retail.

Salesforce Reports

Advantages:

  • Picklists
  • Create JOINs with a maximum of four data extensions
  • Inexpensive
  • Has a user-friendly UI

Disadvantages:

  • Only INNER and OUTER JOINs are available
  • Data migration
  • Does not support data views
  • Requires additional licenses
  • Cannot be automated

Other concerns to consider:

Rarely will an organization utilize Salesforce reports for audience segmentation for its marketing campaigns. A company called Emerald considered it. However, there are many more effective and efficient methods. 

SFMC Filters

Advantages:

  • No implementation required
  • No experience required
  • Can be automated

Disadvantages:

  • Only INNER and OUTER JOINs
  • Create JOINs with up to three data extensions 
  • No picklists
  • Manually creating target data extensions required
  • Limited filtering options

Other concerns to consider:

Filters in SFMC can be a solution for customers that don’t need to perform advanced segmentation with their audience. The primary issues are the limited number of DEs that can JOIN. Also, it takes substantial time to set up.

Excel

Advantages:

  • Only requires knowledge of Excel
  • Free (if you already have the MS Office Suite)

Disadvantages:

  • Cannot be automated
  • No error checks
  • Unsecured data management (e.g., a marketer can change the data type and has no error)
  • Manually creating target data extensions 
  • Data type issues
  • Doesn’t support data views
  • Can take a lot of time to load the data, and unsustainable for companies carrying big amounts of it

Other concerns to consider:

Using Microsoft Excel for audience segmentation is a very slow process with vast opportunities to make mistakes that are not easily found.

System Integrators

Advantages:

  • Complex segmentation
  • Data model adjustments
  • Developing new segmentation scenarios

Disadvantages:

  • High dependence on 3rd party
  • If a professional is fired/changes job, the company is stuck for several days/months
  • Expensive
  • Time-consuming
  • Can take days to get the desired result

Other concerns to consider:

Partners for audience segmentation work well in the implementation and design phases. However, it’s very expensive and time-consuming during campaign deployment rollout.

Interaction Studio

Advantages:

  • Great personalisation and interaction management capabilities inside the app
  • All-round information about the customer

Disadvantages:

  • Doesn’t segment SFMC data
  • Limited use of SFMC data (only gears)
  • It’s on the more expensive end of the spectrum

What is the Best Solution for Audience Segmentation in Salesforce Marketing Cloud?

When it comes to Salesforce Marketing Cloud segmentation tools, you have several options. Many may work effectively for your business. However, if using Filters, hiring an FTE, or investing time to learn SQL yourself isn’t feasible, DESelect Segment is the best choice for your organization. It’s the most integrated, cost-efficient, and intuitive segmentation solution for SFMC.

If you are ready to implement SFMC for better audience segmentation, contact us here at DESelect. We can help you launch campaigns in a fraction of the time. 

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