Building A Valuable Database And Properly Segmenting It

Building your customer database is a valuable long term investment. Segmenting your database makes it even more valuable. It is the process of taking your database and adding characteristics to each person. These characteristics include things like gender, graduation year and the state they live in.
** HEADS UP! Don’t let the term “database” scare you. Your database doesn’t need to be a complex piece of software. It can be something as simple as a spreadsheet. **
The goal is to collect the right information that you can use later to “segment” your database in to groups. This will help you tailor your message to their needs and provide them information when they need it. It will also help you avoid sending the wrong messages to people, who then may tune you out in the future.
[Click here to read examples on why you should segment your email list]
If you haven’t started building your database, now is the time! Getting started is easier than you think. With a simple spreadsheet you have the tools needed to build and segment your database.
And don’t worry about making mistakes. When we started this process over 15 years ago, we built our database on a lot of wrong information. And it was missing a lot of the right information. But the only way to learn is to try it out and learn from your mistakes. Now, we are much better at understanding what information matters and what we can leave out.

The segmenting benefits

Your database is one of your most valuable assets. It is a list of people that have shown genuine interest in your program. It is something that you must protect.
And its biggest threat is you.
One of your important jobs in managing your database is to build trust with the people in it. That means you must provide them with valuable information on a consistent basis. Valuable is relative to each segment. What one person thinks has value may be a waste of space to others. By segmenting, you can start to understand the difference. And build up critical trust.
For example, you are running a camp for 9th-12th grade boys in Seattle, Washington. Obviously, that is who you should target. The message to those people in that region will resonate. Even if they don’t sign up for the camp, they will find the information valuable and open your next email.
However, parents of 4th grade girls that live in Wyoming are not going to care. They will question why they are getting an email from you on this topic. The next time you email them they may not open it. By using a segmented database, you can avoid this.
By segmenting your list you are going to be much more efficient with your resources. For example, if you are using an email service that charges by the email (Mailchimp has that option) then you only want to email those that are in your target.
You can also use your database to target specific people in other advertising. Facebook is very good at this. You can upload a segment of your database and target those specific people. This saves you money by not paying to reach the wrong people.

How and where to segment your list

Segmenting your list starts by determining which characteristics are most valuable. The easiest way is to have the user do it themselves. If they are signing up for an email list, ask them a few questions.
For example, when it comes to signing up for a basic newsletter, you may start with their email and first name. If you are offering something of more value, then you might also be able to get their graduation year and if they are a player, parent or coach. If they are registering for an event then you can also ask for things like their city / state, phone number and age.
You can also create segments based on activity. We have created over 100 audiences in our Facebook account. The audiences are based websites they have visited, pages they like and events that they have attended. From there we segment further. We will then segment by demographics and psychographics. It has helped bring some of our advertising reach down to under $0.01 per impression.

The tools we use

Segmenting can be time consuming at first. But we have found that by using tools to automate the process, it is a very straight forward process. This process can happen in the background. The key is knowing exactly which pieces of information to include.


An email marketing service is going to be a big part of your future communications. Find one that meets both your email marketing needs as well as gives you the ability to segment lists.
Mailchimp is our current service. We moved to Mailchimp after several years with Constant Contact. Unfortunately, Constant Contact has not evolved with the digital marketing world. Make sure your service is updating their offering.
Mailchimp does a good job with our email marketing management. We can send good email to targeted segments to deliver the right message to the right people. It is very affordable for those starting out.
Yet, as we continue to advance, we are finding that Mailchimp is lacking in some functionality. This includes the ability to tag users based on their activity in an email or online. Some research shows that the next step up from here may be a service like Drip or ConvertKit.

Facebook / Instagram

Even though you don’t “own” their database you can “rent” their extensive user knowledge. Facebook makes it easy to segment their users. You can create custom audiences based on your customer list or based on webpages their users have visited. The idea here is that you can target their users to join your database.

Lead Magnets

Lead magnets are a segmentation tool that I have rarely seen youth teams using. But they are an untapped resource. Programs can easily create and use lead magnets to build their database.
Lead magnets are a valuable piece of content that a target is willing to trade their email address for. We use a few of these to find the best users for various services we sell. One of our most popular is an AAU directory of all the travel teams in the northwest. This is a resource that other teams want to see. When they send their email, we send the list. And now we have the email of someone that is likely in a program and interested in attending tournaments. We happen to run one of the biggest tournaments in the northwest. It is a great fit for both. You can see this in action by clicking here.

Event Registrations / Product Purchases

One of the easiest ways to segment your database is by registrations and purchases. You’ve heard the saying, “Put your money where your mouth is” right? When money is spent is shows how committed a person is. These are not tire kickers. These people are serious.
They are the most valuable part of your database because they have spent money with you. Assuming you treated them right the first time, they will be the most likely to purchase again. They need their own segment in your database. Show them a little extra attention to be sure they keep coming back to you.

Building And Segmenting Your Database

Creating a database is a great way to build your program’s value. It houses the most important information you will be using in the future. And segmentation adds to its value. Properly used, your communications are going to be on point and will help you build a ton of trust with your families.
There are a lot of tools for building and segmenting your database. And there are various tactics for building it up. The key is getting started and then learning as you go. The more you try the more valuable you will make your database!