Working with segments

Use segments to establish groups of related contacts that you can target with your customer journeys. You'll create them using the segmentation designer, which enables you to query across multiple related entities, including contacts, leads, accounts, events, marketing lists, and more. It also enables you to query the marketing-insights service to find contacts that have shown engagement with your marketing initiatives, or contacts that you may be failing to reach (due to issues such as email bounces).

The segment designer resemble other querying tools found in Dynamics 365 (such as the advanced-find feature), but is often more flexible and more powerful. It's also the only tool that lets you query interaction records from the marketing-insights service.


Marketing segments are different than marketing lists. More information: Marketing segments vs. marketing lists

Segments in Dynamics 365 Marketing

A market segment is the collection of contacts that you target with a customer journey. In some cases, you'll simply target all the contacts you have, but in most cases, you'll choose who you want to target based on demographic or firmographic data and other considerations. For example, if you're opening a new store in San Francisco, you'll probably promote the opening-day event at that store only to contacts who live near San Francisco. Or if you're running a sale on dresses, you might only send related marketing email messages to your contacts who are female. Decisions like these will typically also affect the way you communicate with the segment in terms of which channels you'll choose, what kind of graphics you'll pick, which kinds of arguments you make, and more.

Dynamics 365 Marketing uses segments to target customer journeys. Most customer journeys start with a segment tile, which establishes the collection of contacts who will experience that journey. You can combine multiple segments here.

Types of segments

Segments can be dynamic, static, or compound.

  • Dynamic segments are set up by using logical expressions, such as "all contacts from New York" or "all contacts who like The Mets." Membership in dynamic segments changes constantly to reflect new or removed contacts and updated contact information. Both demographic and firmographic segments are examples of dynamic segments.
  • Static segments establish a static list of contacts who are selected on a per-contact basis rather than created logically based on field values. Marketers and salespeople might create and populate a static list based on private knowledge or offline interactions.
  • Compound segments combine existing (live) segments using logical operators.

Segments can also be based either on profiles or interactions.

  • Profile segments query the profile records stored in the marketing-insights service. Profiles records are synced between your Dynamics 365 organisational database and the marketing-insights service, and include the entities you normally work with in the Dynamics 365 UI, such as contacts, accounts, leads, and any other entities that you choose to sync.
  • Behavioral segments query the interaction records stored in the marketing-insights service. Each of these records is generated automatically and related to a specific contact record. Interaction records are accessed to generate various insights displays in the Dynamics 365 Marketing UI, but they aren't synced to the Dynamics 365 organisational database. They are generated in response to contact interactions such as opening an email, clicking an email link, submitting a form, or registering for an event.

Segments are synced with the marketing-insights service

Dynamics 365 Marketing works together with the marketing-insights service, which operates using its own marketing-insights database to provide advanced segment definitions and customer analytics. The integration is seamless and results in powerful combined functionality when the two systems work together. Your contact records and marketing lists are continuously synchronised between the two systems, which lets the marketing-insights service apply its powerful data processing and analytical tools to your contacts, and combine these with information from other types of Dynamics 365 records.


The marketing-insights service processes changes to segment membership asynchronously, which means you can't predict the order in which changes are processed. In some cases, such as when processing very large databases, it can take up to six hours for a given segment to get updated. You therefore can't rely on any one segment being processed before or after a specific other segment, so be careful when orchestrating related campaigns and/or using suppression segments.

Segments must be live before you can use them

When you first create a new segment, it is in a draft state, which means that it is unlocked, so you can work with its definition and other settings, but you won't be able to use it in customer journeys or compound segments. When you are ready to use your segment, you must open it and select Go Live from the command bar, which enables it and moves to the live state.


While you are designing your segment, you can select the Get estimated segment size link to get an estimate for the number of contacts that will be included in the segment. Usually the estimate will be exact, but sometimes the final size may vary slightly (you must go live with the segment to view its exact size and membership).

If you need to edit a segment after it has gone live, open it and then select Stop from the command bar to put it back into the draft state.

More information: Go live with publishable entities and track their status

View and manage your segments

To work with your segments, go to Marketing > Customers > Segments. This opens a standard list view, which you can use to search, sort, filter, create, and delete your segments. Open any segment to view its details, or select New to create a new one.

Create and go live with a new segment

Read this section to get a basic overview of how to create a segment and start it running so you can see its members and use it to target a customer journey.

  1. Go to Marketing >Customers > Segments to open a list of current segments.

  2. Select New to start creating your new segment.

  3. To help you get started, the designer asks you to choose which type of segment you want to create. This selection will establish the initial structure of your segment and also affects the user interface you'll see for working with it. Read the names and descriptions shown, and choose one of the following to get started:

    • Demographic: Creates a dynamic profile segment prepared to query contact records directly, but you can still add relations as needed to create a query of arbitrary complexity. For details about how to work with this kind of segment, see Design a demographic or firmographic segment
    • Firmographic: Creates a dynamic profile segment prepared with a relation to the accounts entity already in place. Other than this, this is the same as selecting Demographic. For details about how to work with this kind of segment, see Design a demographic or firmographic segment
    • Behavioural: Creates a behavioural segment, which queries interaction records from the marketing-insights service to find contacts that have interacted in specific ways with your marketing initiatives, such as by opening an email, clicking a link, or visiting a web page. For details about how to work with this kind of segment, see Design behavioral segments
    • Static: Creates a segment where you manually select each member rather than creating a logical query. For details about how to work with this kind of segment, see Design static segments
    • Combined audiences: Creates a compound segment, which combines any number of existing segments union, exclude, and/or intersect operators. For details about how to work with this kind of segment, see Combine segments into a compound segment (combined audiences)

    Choose a segment type

  4. The segment designer opens, showing settings and tools that are appropriate for your selection. Start by naming your segment. Select the expansion button at the side of the header area to expand a drop-down dialogue where you can make a few key settings. Use it to enter a Name for your new segment.

    Name your segment

  5. Select Save on the toolbar to save your segment.

  6. Use the tools provided by the designer to establish your segment membership criteria, as described elsewhere in this topic, for your selected segment type.

  7. When you're done designing the segment, select Go live on the toolbar to start running the segment, find all of its members (as needed), and make it available for use with your customer journeys. Once your segment is live, it will include a Members tab, where you can go to see exactly which contacts are part of the segment.

Tabs and settings for segments

After you have created a new segment and selected its initial type (as Described in the previous section), you'll also see any time you edit an existing segment. It provides several tabs for describing, defining, and reviewing the segment. Tabs are shown as a set of headings under the header, which shows the name of the segment. Select any of these headings to go to the relevant tab. Each tab is described briefly in the following subsections.

The Definition tab

Use the Definition tab to establish membership of the segment. For dynamic segments, you'll get a query builder here. For static segments, you'll select specific contacts one at a time. For compound segments, you'll create logic for combining existing segments here. For more information about how to build your segment definition using this tab, see the following topics:

The General tab

The General tab provides a few basic settings and general information about the segment. Many of the values here are established when you first create the segment and then become read only. Some fields are only present if your application is configured to use them. All fields are read-only when the segment is live. The fields you see may include some or all of the following:

  • Name: The name of the segment as it appears in the segment list and when selecting segments for a customer journey.
  • Created on: The date the segment was created.
  • Segment Type: Shows the segment type (dynamic, static, or compound). This is permanently established when you first create the segment.
  • External source: For segments that are synced from an external source, such as Dynamics 365 Customer Insights, information about the external source is shown here.
  • External segment URL: For segments that are synced from an external source, such as Dynamics 365 Customer Insights, the URL of the external source is shown here.
  • Query type: Shows the query type (profile or interaction). This is permanently established when you first create the segment.
  • Activation status: Shows whether the segment is draft or live. Only live segments are available for use in customer journeys and compound segments. (This is also referred to as the Status reason.)
  • Owner: Shows the name of the user who owns the segment.
  • Scope: This setting only appears when business-unit scopes are enabled for your instance. When scopes are enabled, this can have a setting of Business unit or Organisation, but only privileged users (such as managers or admins) will be able to change it. When set to Business unit, the segment will only contain contacts that belong to the same business unit as the segment owner, even when the query would normally find more contacts than this. When set to Organisation, the segment will contain all contacts that match the query, regardless of who owns the contacts or the journey. When this feature is disabled, the segment behaves as though it were set to Organisation. More information: Use business units to control access to Marketing records
  • Description: A description of the segment.
  • Members: The number of contacts that are currently included in the segment.

The Members tab

The Members tab is only shown after you segment has gone live at least once. Use it to see which contacts are part of the segment. It typically takes a few minutes for the Members tab to populate after you go live with a segment.

The Insights tab

Many types of entities, including segments, show a tab labelled Insights after a record has gone live at least once. This tab shows results, analytics, KPIs and other information about how that record has been used and how contacts have interacted with it. More information: Analyse results to gain insights from your marketing activities

Almost all types of entities in Dynamics 365 Marketing include a Related tab. Use it to find records that are related to the currently open record. This "tab" is really just a drop-down list where you can select the type of related records you'd like to see. On selecting a record type (entity), a new tab named for that entity is added to the page, where you can see a list of the related records.

For example, to see a list of customer journeys where a segment is used, open the relevant segment, select the Related tab and then choose Customer journeys from the list. A new tab called Customer journeys is added to the form view. Go to this tab to view the list.

When you select a new entity from the Related tab, it replaces the one currently shown.

See also

Create a segment
Set up subscription lists and subscription centres
Go live with publishable entities and track their status