Company fit vs. product or service fit
Conceptually, account lists are at a higher level than segments. Account lists are a subset of your total addressable market that you create for various reasons. Some reasons include:
- Accounts owned by a specific person
- Tiered account lists (highest value prospects to prospects with only some value)
- Lists for campaigns
- Modeling your ideal customer profile (ICP), so that Demandbase machine learning can find look-alikes
Account lists are a way of narrowing down your known accounts to your company's or your own best-fit accounts. You might experiment by creating different lists, to learn which ones have the best results. Once you're confident about your account list(s), you can use segments to divide them into separate groups for different products or services. See Understanding Account Lists, The Heart of Your ABM Strategy and Understanding Segments.
Multiple lists, multiple segments, single segment group
A single account can be in more than one list. A single account can also be included within multiple Demandbase Segments. However, Demandbase Segments have two parts: the Segment (segment type, such as Industry or State) and the groups within it (such as Financial Services or IN). A single account can be within only one group within the same segment.
For example, Account A can be in both an Industry Segment and a State Segment, but it can only be in one industry group, such as Financial Services, and one state group, such as Indiana. To carry this example further, if you used these segments for Personalization, you would deliver your site experiences for Financial Services and Indiana to Account A.
Makes sense: if you use a segment group to target a customer for a certain product, you want Demandbase to know exactly which customer experience to deliver. See Understanding Segments.
Segments create a field, account lists do not
Creating a field is a powerful difference. When you create a segment, Demandbase creates a field with the segment name that you can use to identify which group each member of a list is in. Demandbase appends a segment field to your data, allowing you to filter on the groups that you define. You define them using data throughout Demandbase, such as Demandbase Intent, firmographics, technographics and so forth.
We append the word (segment) to the end of a segment field name to differentiate it from other data, for example, Industry (segment). Having a field to easily invoke the power of segmentation enables you to reuse the same segment consistently across Demandbase features, such as Selectors, Analytics, Journeys, and Site Customization.
See Understanding Fields.