Email list Segmentation: Start from Here


When discussing email marketing with a fellow entrepreneur, perhaps they casually ask “so how do you segment your emails to optimize response?”. You may have pursed your lips and simply stated “trade secret”, because the concept of email segmentation can be wildly complicated.

The truth may be that you have no idea how to segment emails, or how doing so can benefit your email campaigns, and that’s ok!  We’ll take a look at some of the most popular methods of email segmentation, and how each can benefit you and your business.

How Does Email Segmentation Work?

The idea behind email segmentation is similar to creating specific landing pages:  you’re giving a set of customers the exact information they want about your products or services.

As you’ve surely learned by now, not all customers act the same.  Some will open emails only when there’s a special discount or deal inside.  Some will only open emails when they contain information about a specific product.  So why would you spend the time and energy to send every customer every email, only to completely exhaust them on seeing your name in their inbox?

Instead, consider sending people the emails they want, and ONLY the emails they want.  When subscribers see what they want to see in their email inboxes, they’re far more likely to open the email, click links, and take advantage of any lead magnets you might have stuffed in there!

How Do I Start Segmenting?

Right now, you might be scratching your head and wondering how you can make the best out of the information you have regarding your email list.  If your squeeze page is effective, it doesn’t ask a whole lot of questions.  You’ll have an email address, and maybe a name.  So where does the rest of your information come from to set up email segmentation?

The answer starts in your email analytics.  As you drill down into the analytics of each campaign, you’ll learn more about overall email engagement.  You’ll be able to see overall open rates and clickthrough rates, as well as which users are active and which are inactive.  

This is a great place to start.  Active subscribers, who do open your emails and click on the links are a key audience to address, because you want to keep them happy and clicking away. Inactive subscribers are also a key target, because while they aren’t doing a whole lot, there’s something keeping them from just unsubscribing.  Perhaps you can create a campaign just to re-engage these individuals, such as a really great deal or discount.

Email analytics will also tell you when emails are opened, and potentially geographic information, depending on your email service.  This is another opportunity to create targeted email segmentation.  Consider if you sent emails at exactly the right time, every time, to a specific set of customers. 

Since most email services allow you to schedule communications, you can ensure that customers receive your email at the time when they frequently open them, historically speaking.  You can’t ask for better engagement than putting something a customer wants directly in front of their eyes!

Geographic data can also help you send regional promotions.  If your company sells outdoor products, for example, you can start boosting winter products in each area as the temperatures start to dip.

You can also send out invitations to specific webinars or AMA events based on a specific time zone.  If you’re having a live event, a geographically segmented email ensures you invite everyone who is in the region of the event, which may improve attendance.

Segmentation by Purchases

Not only do customers live in various locations, but they all have different goals.  Another way to segment email lists is to do so by their purchasing habits.  For this, you’ll need to access your sales records.

One way to reach a target audience with email is via past purchases.  Depending on the range of products or services you sell, there is a very likely a population who makes very similar purchases.

You can reach out to all of these individuals in an email segmentation with a targeted campaign that suggests related products, refills, renewals, or replacements, depending on what the item is.

If a group of individuals purchase your basic level editing software year after year, perhaps it’s time to invite them to a webinar that will explain the benefits of the premium level of software.  Sending an email to target this segment of your customer base can help encourage them to seek additional solutions from your company.

You can also get a feel for your customers through the amounts spent in their previous purchases.  There tend to be different levels of shoppers:  those with seemingly unlimited disposable income who buy what they want whenever they want, those who only shop sales and always use a discount code, and those who only purchase one brand or type of product.

You can actually segment these customers, too, and send them emails specific to their spending habits.

Segmentation on your Sales Funnels

A customer’s position in the sales funnel is another great place to target emails.  Someone who is on the cusp of purchasing will need an entirely different method of communication than someone who has just started shopping around for the best solution to their problem.

Brand new subscribers can receive emails that introduce them to you, your brand, and your business, while those who have been around awhile only want to know what’s new.  

When in doubt, you do have a powerful tool at your fingertips:  The Survey.  Many marketers are very wary of asking too much information of their audience all at once, but, under the right circumstances, some people are very willing to help you gain information about their needs.

Incentives are always helpful, of course.  “Complete this brief survey for a special 40% off discount code”, has a certain motivational factor about it.  You can also frame these as quizzes:  “Take this quiz to determine what product best fits your personality!”.

Final words

People who are reading your emails are already curious about your product, so giving them additional reason to interact with your site will not only help you gain information about them, but will help convince them to buy your products or services.

Email segmentation can be achieved in many different ways, so it’s hard to say which option will be best for you and your audience.

The great news is that email management software typically makes this a very easy process, allowing you to try out a few different options to find the proverbial sweet spot.

Take the opportunity to review purchase histories and email campaign histories to get a feel for what your audience likes and dislikes, and find ways to speak to them directly.  Remember, the more direct the campaign, the higher the likelihood of a conversion!

What are your thoughts?

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