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A Quick and Easy Way to A/B Split Your Marketing Automation Database

Sometimes it's helpful to be able to split our data into a couple of chunks to make it more manageable. Maybe we want to A/B test a subject line, or simply to candence sending times in an automation.

Here's a really simple way to automatically split your database so you can use that split in any list or automation.

1. Create a random number field (preferably a number field).

2. Create automations that assigns the number 1 to anyone that has a last name starting with A-K and 2 to anyone with a last name starting with L-Z. This the approximate 50/50 distribution of first letters of last names in the US.

Here's a screenshot of what the L-Z automation rule would look like in Pardot (MCAE*)

Now you can use this value-- if the random number is 1 or 2 to split an automation or program path.

Note that if you don't have last names for some people in your database then you will have some prospects where this value is blank. You will have to decide how you want to deal with the blanks-- either by excluding them from the list, or treating them as a third group.

Here's some ideas on how to use this:

  • Split an automation to test an A or B version of an email, or test the order in which you send emails.

  • Delay sending of a large set of emails to half the group so all all emails are not sent at the same time.

  • Randomly splitting the assignement of new leads between 2 people.

This is an actual the random number split from a real dataset using this method:



Apr 19, 2022

Great idea! I wonder, would it be effective to use email address instead of last name to avoid having to deal with blanks?

Apr 19, 2022
Replying to

Ah yeah. Thanks! I figured there must be something like that making email address less dependable or less random.

*As of April 2022, Pardot has been renamed Marketing Cloud Account Engagement, as part of Salesforce's effort to organize all the marketing products under the same platform umbrella. "MCAE" is simply the same Pardot we know and love under a new name. The product is temporarily being referred to as "Marketing Cloud Account Engagement powered by Pardot."   

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