Configure a Segment and Launch a Campaign – Virtualization Review


Create a Mailing List with AWS Pinpoint, Part 2: Set Up a Segment and Launch a Campaign

Brien Posey explains how to easily set up an email campaign with Amazon Web Services Customer Engagement.

In the first post, I talked about the process of setting up a project and verifying email addresses in preparation for a mail campaign. Now I want to wrap up by showing you how to set up a segment and start a campaign.

Before you can create an email campaign, you will need to define one or more segments. A segment is basically just a mailing list. It is a collection of names and addresses that you will send messages to.

The easiest way to create a segment is to set up a spreadsheet with the required data. Once done, you can save the spreadsheet as a CSV file and import it into Amazon Web Services (AWS). At this point, the segment will be ready to use (assuming email addresses or domains have been verified).

The most important thing to understand about the process of creating a segment is that the spreadsheet will need to use very specific column header names. Otherwise, AWS won’t know how to import the resulting CSV file. AWS actually supports a lot of attributes that you can include in your spreadsheet. You can find the full list of attributes here. You can use any combination of up to 20 of the available attributes.

At the very least, however, you’ll need to specify the ChannelType and Address attributes. The ChannelType attribute allows you to specify whether the specified address is an email address of an SMS address. Many administrators will also include other key attributes in the worksheet, such as User.UserAttributes.FirstName.

This raises an important point. The list of attributes supported in AWS is not completely static. The attributes are designed to allow the creation of custom attributes. User.UserAttributes, for example, can be extended to include user-related custom headers such as User.UserAttributes.Name.

The other thing I want to quickly mention is that AWS has the ability to send messages to a subset of the members of a segment based on attributes. For example, you can limit a campaign so that messages are sent only to recipients in a specific location or to recipients who use a specific device.

Once you have created the mailing list CSV file, it is easy to import it. Just go to the Segments tab, which you can see in Figure 1, and enter a name for the segment you want to create.

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Figure 1. Enter a name for the segment you are creating.

Click the Create Segment button and you will be taken to the Create Segment screen. Now just choose the Import Segment option and then enter the path to the CSV file containing your segment data as shown in Figure 2.

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Figure 2. Select the Import segment option.

There are two things to pay attention to on this screen. First of all, although I mainly focused on using CSV files, JSON files are also supported. Second, whatever file format you choose to use, you’ll need to upload the file to an S3 bucket before you can import it.

When you’re done creating your segment, the last thing you’ll need to do is create the actual mail campaign. To do this, click on the Campaigns tab, then on the Create a campaign button, displayed in figure 3.

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Figure 3. Click the Create Campaign button.

You will now see a prompt asking you to enter a name for the campaign you are creating, as shown in Figure 4. While you’re at it, you’ll need to specify whether you’re creating a Standard (a “real”) campaign or a test campaign. Make your selection and click Next.

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Figure 4. Enter a name for your campaign.

You will now be taken to the Choose Segment screen, which you can see in Figure 5. Choose the option to use an existing segment, and then choose one of the segments you created earlier. Click on Next to continue.

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Figure 5. On the Choose Segment screen, choose an existing segment, which will be the one you created earlier.

Now AWS will display the Create Your Message screen. Choose the email as the message channel, and then click the Create new message option. You will now need to enter a subject line and provide the actual text of your post.

One of the coolest features of the message editor is its ability to send personalized messages. Just work in one of the attributes of the CSV file you imported. For example, if you want to add the recipient’s first name to the message, you can just insert {{User.UserAttributes.FirstName}} in the message. Keep in mind that this is a custom user attribute as defined by Amazon’s list of supported attributes. When you have finished composing your message, click Next.

AWS will now open the Schedule Your Campaign page. Specify the message delivery schedule and click Next. Now take a moment to review the summary screen. If everything looks correct, click the Launch Campaign button to launch the mail campaign.

About the Author

Brien Posey is 20 times Microsoft MVP with decades of IT experience. As a freelance writer, Posey has written thousands of articles and contributed to several dozen books on a wide variety of computer topics. Prior to becoming independent, Posey was CIO for a national chain of hospitals and healthcare facilities. He has also served as a network administrator for some of the largest insurance companies in the country and for the Department of Defense at Fort Knox. In addition to his continued work in computer science, Posey has spent the last few years actively training as a commercial scientist-astronaut candidate for a mission to study polar mesospheric clouds from the space. You can take his space flight training on his website.


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