How to Use List Segmentation to Optimize Your Email Marketing

When it comes to marketing, a one-size-fits-all approach is really a one-size-fits-none approach.

Sadly, your customers aren’t going to buy from you if you treat them all like a homogenous block of potential revenue.

Source: Giphy

This is an all too common mistake that many marketers make, especially when it comes to email marketing.

Because it’s so simple to send an email blast to your entire database of contacts with the help of email marketing software, it’s easy to get lazy. Instead of busting out their creativity and making quality email campaigns, many marketers just craft a single email to send to everyone.

While this may save you time, it’s not going to get you the results that you want.

To really get the most out of your email marketing, you need to use segmentation. By dividing up your email list you can create more targeted emails.

What exactly is email list segmentation?

It’s exactly what it sounds like — dividing up your email list into smaller lists or “segments.”

But, it’s probably not the best idea to just create segments at random. The whole point of segmenting your email list is to enable you to create emails that are more relevant to different subsets of your email list.

To do this, you need to decide how to meaningfully divide your email subscribers into segments of contacts with similar needs or interests. The best way to do this is to use contact attributes to group similar contacts together.

How do you segment email contacts effectively

This is a pretty tough question, and the answer can also depend on your business or customer base.

However, I will go over a few of the main categories to give you a better idea of how you can start segmenting your email subscribers to get better results on your email marketing campaigns.

Who are your contacts?

One of the easiest and most obvious categories by which you can segment contacts is demographics.

Although this won’t always be relevant for your business, dividing contacts based on demographics and provide you with a really great opportunity to personalize the email campaigns you’re sending out.

These segments could be based on any of the following:

  • Gender preference (good for ecommerce stores)
  • Country
  • Language preference (for international companies)
  • Age

In order to create these segments, it’s best that you ask your contacts up front for this information.

That will make it much easier to segment effectively without having to guess!

Where did your contact sign up?

Segmenting contacts based on the acquisition channel through which they found your business is another excellent strategy.

email signup form popup example

Depending on the tactics you use to collect contacts, these segments can have very different interests or needs. Let’s take a look at a few examples of acquisition channels by which you can segment contacts:

Event or trade show

This is a very specific type of contact with a very high potential to convert into a customer. These contacts have most likely already met you, and they clearly want to know more.

Because most events have a specific theme (e.g. ecommerce, entrepreneurs, WordPress users, industry-specific, etc.), you have an awesome opportunity to create a more targeted email campaign. Your message should be focused on the needs and interests of the specific groups that were represented at the conference. This will result in a hyper-targeted campaign that is guaranteed to perform well!

You can also offer a discount for attending the event to give them that extra nudge.

Blog newsletter

Contacts who subscribe to your emails from your blog are usually looking to learn. That means if you want to give them what they’re looking for, you need to find out exactly what their interests are.

You can do this in a few different ways:

  • Include the option to select areas of interest at the time of signup.
  • Track what articles people are signing up from
  • Include targeted pieces of “gated content” that require people to give an email address before they download.

Whichever method you choose, you’ll be much more able to choose relevant content if you know what subscribers are already interested in reading.

Ecommerce checkout

Contacts who sign up for emails at ecommerce checkout are most likely looking for exclusive deals and discounts.

This segment offers a great opportunity to develop loyal customers who will continue to return to your store. By subscribing at checkout, they are essentially telling you that they want to return to your store when you have good deals. Use that to your advantage and build a loyalty program around this segment.

Customer loyalty

How are your contacts engaging with your email campaigns?

Email campaign engagement is a very important category as well, and it’s one that many marketers tend to forget about.

If you have contacts that are constantly engaging with your email campaigns (opening and clicking through), this is a great opportunity to reward them for their engagement.

list segmentation - reward engaged customers

Conversely, the unengaged contacts present you with a different opportunity. These are the people that you need to re-engage or remove from your email list. Reaching out with a special offer can be an effective tool in rebuilding relationships with your unengaged customers.

Also, if contacts don’t engage with these emails, it might be time to remove them in order to protect your sender score.

Before creating these segments, it’s important that you define what an engaged user is and what an unengaged user is. This is best done by establishing a period of time in which to look for a certain pattern of behavior. For example:

  • Engaged – 3 email clicks in the last 3 months
  • Unengaged – No email opens in the last 3 months

You can make these whatever you like, just as long as you don’t forget about them!

For the best results, layer your segmentation

Now that you know some of the main categories for email list segmentation, it’s important to think about the best way to implement these segments.

Remember how I said that emails need to be personalized?

If you want to get really specific, you can layer your segmentation conditions, This lets you create an even more targeted audience for your campaigns.

For example, instead of sending an email to all of your customers who identify as women, you can send an email to all of your contacts who have clicked on your last 3 emails, live in the US, and identify as women.

That’s pretty specific, right?!

Although this means that you’ll spend more time creating emails for different segments, it may be worth it with the increase in engagement that you will see from more personalized content.

Do you have segments that perform particularly well? Let us know in the comments!

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10 thoughts on “How to Use List Segmentation to Optimize Your Email Marketing

  1. There’s a big difference from a personal email approach and just by sending email blast. Your list will know and will feel your approach if its personal. That will give you better results and its proven as long as you made a good content to your blast and proper segmentation.

  2. On point and I hope this post can reach more new or to those who are seeking more tips on getting better results. If you are going to ask me, I would say connection and understanding your list are the one big factor on getting good conversion.

    1. You’re absolutely right Sophia — you can’t sell to an audience that you know nothing about. It’s essential that you get to know your customers’ (and prospects’) needs and pain points if you really want to strike a chord.

  3. People should understand the importance of segmentation as it is like cleaning your own house. It will help you understand and plan on your approach on your next email. I just shared this to my fb wall! Cheers!

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