The Complete Guide to Product Qualified Leads

Get the in-depth framework — plus stories from leaders at companies like DigitalOcean, Moz, AdEspresso, Typeform, and more — to help you convert more of your product qualified leads into happy, paying customers.

Start Reading

Brought to You By

What's Inside

Want to know the minute a new chapter is published? Sign up now to get every chapter delivered straight to your inbox!

Sign Up Now

Chapter 6: Automating qualification and segmentation

Once you've got your ideas of the triggers and "aha" moments, you need to create segments

Segments group alike contacts together so you can then trigger logic in other tools, like sales tasks, email workflows, ad targeting, live chat and more.

Segmentation allows you to codify the rules and triggers you've found to be significant for use in all your tools.

Just as your tracking plan needs to be neat and tidy (a limited number of events, with the “detail” in the event properties) so it’s easier to track, use and extend - so does your tracking plan.

Avoid having free form segmentation with random rules between segments. The way to do this is to think in “dimensions”.

Just like with dimensions in geometry (a line to a square to a cube etc.), dimensions give us a way of describing a set of attributes, and gives a logical way to extend and expand your segments.

For product qualified leads, there are four different types of segmentation dimensions you have to consider:

     1. Profile data

     2. Firmographics

     3. Lifecycle stage

     4. User events → the “aha!” moments you’ve identified

In B2B marketing, person’s profiles typically focus on their job role and seniority within the company. As marketers, this is important for distinguishing between different messaging with different calls to action. For instance, an engineer has vastly different roles, priorities, and interests to a sales person.

Other profile data of interest may include background and interests (like those mentioned on their social media bios), and their location for timing and personalizing messages.

As an aside, segmentation dimensions need groupable data. A segment of CEOs makes sense. A segment of people called David does not. There’s so many different combinations of name, it’s difficult to combine create meaningful segments (remember, you can use dynamic content to separately personalize your content and messaging).

The second set of dimensions to consider for B2B product qualified leads is around firmographics. This looks at data around the company like their size in terms of employees, revenue, and amounts raised, their industry, their country and so on. These are the criteria your sales team probably uses already for qualifying, categorizing, and managing specific leads.

Your event actions add new dimensions on top of these. Once you’ve identified the trigger actions, you can build segments.

Finally, it’s important to include your lifecycle stage in your segmentation. For instance, defining your trial accounts as accounts which are live but are not paying.

Using these dimensions, you can start to create a segmentation plan that hones in your product qualified leads.

Don’t make your segments too advanced. The problem with segments that involve many dimensions is the number people eligible for them becomes too small.

As a rule of thumb, create segments with more than 500 people in them. This is large enough to start seeing uplift from spending the extra effort creating and sending different messages to different people. Below this, you’re likely to be better off sending more campaigns to a larger, generic list instead of spending the same amount of work to send different versions of just one campaign.

Your segments should be clearly named so it’s obvious who you’re targeting. As a preference, I like to create dimensions with dimensions from left to right in order of importance. 

For example, instead of a segment of “Salesforce integrations”, have a segmentation like this for targeting by lifecycle stage, action and lifecycle: “Trial: {jobRole} - {integrations}”. If the type of integration is more important: “Trial: Sales - Has Salesforce”. If the number of integrations is more important: “Trial: Sales - 5-9 Integrations”.

Your segmentation convention depends on how many dimensions you want to include and how complex your event triggers are.

Analysis Technique Segmentation Convention Example Segment
Raw product usage(Only one trigger) {lifecycle}: {jobRole} - {qualified} Trial: Sales - Qualified
Regression or Data Science(Many actions) {lifecycle}: {jobRole} - {action} Trial: Sales - Team Invited

As you put together your segmentation plan, consider where you different data is stored.

Segmentation Dimension Type Where The Data is Tracked and Stored
Lifecycle stage CRM
Backend database
Profile data CRM
Marketing automation
Backend database (e.g. user-created profile)
Company “firmographic” profile data CRM
Marketing automation
Backend database (e.g. user-created profile)
Event actions Analytics tools
Backend database

You need to review your plan for syncing together these different data types between the different types of tools.

Remember from the previous chapter, the seven methods for integrating, managing and orchestrating your customer data:

     1. One-click “native” integrations

     2. Manual export and import (often via a spreadsheet)

     3. Zapier and other workflow tools

     4. “All-in-one” platforms

     5. Code customer integrations

     6. Data warehousing

     7. Customer Data Platforms

Here’s three examples of how companies are taking trigger actions from where the data is stored to where the data is used - their CRM.

Company Trigger Action Data is stored Data used
Appcues Trial limits modal Production database (triggers modal. Event is fired when this is viewed. Captured by analytics tool) CRM via Customer Data Platform (Hull) in a real time stream.
Contentful 500+ API calls and 3+ users Production database CRM via data warehouse and custom code. Batch jobs.
Digital Ocean Predictive model with multiple triggers Backend database CRM via custom code. Batch jobs.

Remember, you still need to match your segments with effective content. More on this in Chapter 8.

Takeaway Points: Automate Qualification and Segmentation

1. Define your segmentation plan according to the four key dimensions for B2B product qualified leads: lifecycle stage, individual person’s profiles, company profiles (“firmographics”) and the key actions you identified earlier.

2. Sync your segments to all your tools, so you can manage messaging across multiple channels to your target accounts.

Authored By

Claire Suellentrop

Founder, LoveYourCustomers

Claire Suellentrop helps high-growth SaaS companies get inside their customers’ heads. Previously the Director of Marketing and #2 employee at Calendly, she’s seen firsthand that truly effective marketing stems from a deep understanding of existing users’ needs.   

Now, she works with companies like Wistia, FullStory, and MeetEdgar to uncover their best customers’ needs and desires, then uses those juicy details to create more relevant, high-converting marketing and onboarding campaigns. 

Ed Fry

Head of Growth,

Ed Fry is passionate about helping marketers grow their organizations and directly contribute to revenue. He was the first employee at and worked with thought-leaders like Rand Fishkin, Co-Founder of Moz, and Dharmesh Shah, Co-Founder of HubSpot. During his tenure, membership grew from 5,000 to 165,000+ members between 2012 and 2016.

Ed currently oversees Growth at Hull - a customer data management platform that eliminates data problems for marketing and sales teams alike. 

Get Each New Chapter In Your Inbox

Don't want to miss out on the upcoming chapters? Sign up now and we'll deliver each chapter as soon as we publish! 

No spam, no gimmicks.

Just great content.

By submitting this form, you are subscribing to future content from Hull (including the PQLs guide) and acknowledge that the information will be processed according to our Privacy Policy.

First Name

Last Name

Company Email