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Setting Up Audience Segments in Parse.ly

Welcome to our guide on Setting Up Audience Segments in Parse.ly. Whether you’re looking to segment by geography, campaigns, or custom data, this guide provides step-by-step instructions and insights to effectively categorize your audience and tailor your content strategy accordingly.

Before you begin

Ensure that you’ve purchased Audience Segments by reviewing your contract. Contact your Relationship Manger, or value@parsely.com, with questions.

What to expect

After setting up Audience Segments with the steps outlined herein, your Parse.ly Dashboard will include data on the Segments page. Below the timeline and factoids, you will find a listing of your specified labels that have data for the selected time period. You can also find your segments in filters scattered throughout the Dashboard. For more details see our Audience Segments feature post.

The Parse.ly Dashboard following setting up Audience Segments.

Types of Audience Segments

Segments based on standard data

Audience segmentation that uses standard browser data requires no technical work from your team. This includes data such as approximate geographic location, digital marketing campaigns, or referring URL. Geographic segments are the most common use case from this category.

Geographic Segments

How we perform geographic segmentation

When you visit a website, your web browser automatically shares certain information with that website to facilitate communication. One key piece of information is your IP address. This information helps websites load correctly on your device and can also provide basic geographic location data, which is often used for things like customizing content to your region or understanding overall website traffic patterns. We leverage your visitors’ IP addresses using MaxMind GeoIP codes and Nielsen US DMA codes to segment your audience.

Challenges to precise geographic segmentation

While we can determine the approximate geographic location of a visitor using their IP address, this may not be accurate if the visitor is using a VPN, proxy server, Tor, or other methods to mask or change their IP address.

Additionally, Parse.ly offers privacy tools such as ip anonymization (enabled for new customers, by default). If you’re interested, you may also like to read our Privacy Policy.

There are limitations to geographic lookups. The smaller the geographic area, the less accurate the segment will be. And, on occasion, pieces of the geographic data could be missing.

Segments based on custom data

Custom segmentation is often helpful to reveal what your most valued customers are interested in consuming. If there’s anything you know about your reader, you can pass that to Parse.ly. So that means you can see what your paying readers, newsletter subscribers, and/or logged-in users are interested in.

Setting up segments

Regardless of which option you choose, the process of setting up Audience Segments in Parse.ly involves understanding your target audience and mapping them to your business objectives. If you would like assistance with this task, please contact your Relationship Manager to review successful case studies and to develop a strategy for your team.

Geographic segmentation set up

  1. Check to see the number of segments that you’ve purchased (usually multiples of 5).
  2. Determine how geographic segmentation will help you achieve your business objectives.
  3. Select your regions of interest by using the following guidelines and examples:
    • The United States is one country and we can track it with one segment
    • The 50 states of the US are 50 places that would require 50 segments.
    • “Springfield and Shelbyville” is a region consisting of two towns that we can track with one segment.
    • Think of the world map as your Venn diagram. You can join multiple places together and also cut places out.
    • For your convenience, we’ve created this sheet with a list of countries, country groupings, and state groupings.
  4. Email Support with the regions you would like us to track with the following information:
    • Label: this is the value that you’ll see in the Parse.ly Dashboard.
    • Specification: this is the definition of the region you’re interested in
    • Use the example request for guidance
  5. Upon receipt of your request, we will update your dashboard(s) per your specification. Within minutes, new pageviews will belong to one or more segments.
  6. We recommend waiting at least until the next business day to review the segmented data in your dashboard. At that point, you can explore the segments feature in your dashboard(s).

Example geographic segmentation request

LabelSpecification
USUS
non-USEverywhere but the US
Twin CitiesMinneapolis Minnesota, Saint Paul Minnesota
LATAMAs defined in Column F here
New England StatesConnecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont

Custom segmentation set up overview

  1. Check to see the number of segments that you’ve purchased (usually multiples of 5).
  2. Determine how custom segmentation will help you achieve your business objectives.
  3. Select your segments of interest by using the following guidelines and examples:
  4. Email Support with the segments you would like us to track with the following information:
    • Label: this is the value that you’ll see in the Parse.ly Dashboard.
    • Specification: in the form of a key : value pair. When we receive a match for a specified condition, we will apply the appropriate segment label(s) to the pageview.
    • Use the example request for guidance
  5. Upon receipt of your request, we will update your dashboard(s) per your specification.
  6. Your developer(s) will need to create a workflow (example) that will:
    1. Identify the visitors on your site, e.g., “newsletter subscriber”
    2. Embed the visitor information into the Parse.ly pageview
    3. Trigger the updated Parse.ly pageview
    4. Test your implementation for each possible case, e.g., “Logged in” fires when is_logged_in == True and does not fire when is_logged_in != True.
  7. Once both of our teams have completed the aforementioned steps, we will begin displaying segmentation data. At that point, you can explore the segments feature in your dashboard(s).

Example custom segmentation request

LabelSpecification
Logged inis_logged_in : True
Newsletter Subscribernewsletter_subscriber : True
Gold Tierservice_level : Gold
Silver Tierservice_level : Silver
Loyal Readerloyalty_last_month : moreThan5

Example workflow

Here’s a practical example of that workflow from a well-known marketing platform, Marketo, where our intent is to track users who are paid subscribers or not paid subscribers in Parse.ly.

  1. A user visits the webpage. The server uses the user’s Marketo ID (stored in the “_mkto_track” cookie) to look up the user in the Marketo database.
  2. If the server finds a user, it will look at the user’s data and see if they are a paid subscriber or not. If they are a paid subscriber, you will create a cookie called “paid_subscriber” and set it to true.
  3. When the request returns to the website, the client-side JavaScript checks that cookie. If that cookie exists, it uses the Parse.ly JavaScript library to send a pageview call to Parse.ly with the extra data attached (sample code). 
  4. Our system will read the pixel with extra data attached and categorize the view appropriately.

Sample code

Here’s an example of what custom segment tracking code might look like for a user that is subscribed to a “basic” plan. This uses the recommended update defaults method:

Caution

Any segmentation code must be placed before your standard Parsely tracking snippet.

<script>
window.PARSELY = window.PARSELY || {
 autotrack: false,
 onReady: function() {
  PARSELY.updateDefaults({
   data: {
    plan: "basic"
   }
  });
  PARSELY.beacon.trackPageView();
 }
};
</script>

<!-- START Parse.ly Include -->
<!-- ...insert the parsely tracker code here... -->
<!-- END Parse.ly Include -->

In the example above, note that in the call to PARSELY.updateDefaults, we provide an object like this:

{
  data: {
   plan: "<name of plan>"
  }
}

You must pass a data object that matches this shape. Within the data object, you can use whatever key/value strings best describe your business logic. For example, the following would also be valid:

{
  data: {
   user_type: "anonymous",
   content_type: "free"
  }
}

Booleans may also be used, as in this example:

{
  data: {
   Logged_in: true,
  }
}

In a real integration, the value of each data property will be set by your business logic. This means that any value you intend to use for segmentation must be available client-side by the time the Parse.ly tracker loads. It’s also important to consistently handle null values; in the example above, if a current user isn’t subscribed to any plan, you would have to choose between setting data.plan to null or simply skipping the call to PARSELY.updateDefaults.

Valid values

Value strings are treated as case-sensitive by default.

Segmentation values should represent general categories of users. Sending personal information like names or email addresses is ineffective for creating segments, and a violation of our terms of use.

Custom audience segments integration using Google Tag Manager (GTM)

If you used Google Tag Manager (GTM) to implement the Parse.ly tracker, you can use the same tag to assist with setting up Audience Segments as described here.

Note

If you don’t see the Custom Audience Segments section you may be on an older version of the tag template. To update, navigate to the Templates tab on the left side of your Tag Manager container UI and click the update icon next to the Parse.ly Tracker tag template.

Conclusion

By following these guidelines, setting up Audience Segments in Parse.ly can be an effective way to enhance your content strategy. Contact your Relationship Manager or Support team to get started.

Additional Resources

Video Recap of Audience Segmentation offerings

Last updated: January 04, 2024