Are you getting the most out of your email marketing list?

If your email database isn’t segmented, you’re probably not.

Segmentation is the process by which your email marketing list can be split up, or segmented, into different subscriber categories.

What kinds of categories? Modern email marketing platforms and a little savvy web development allow you to segment your list into more or less any different kind of category you can think of.

Here’s a very basic example—let’s say that your business has two physical locations, each in different cities. Like most businesses, you probably only have one website. If you were building an email marketing mailing list from that website, segmenting your list based on geolocation would allow you to send different emails based on the subscriber’s geographical location.

This means if Physical Location A is holding a special event or sale, you could alert subscribers only in that area. If you wanted to send out a message only with directions to only Physical Location B for subscribers in that area, you could do that.

There’s even more you can do with geographic segmentation. Say for example you wanted to send out messages at 10 AM. But it’s not 10 AM everywhere, so the solution is to segment your list based on timezone. What if you wanted to send out invitations to a talk or seminar in one city only? Completely possible.

So far we’ve only discussed one possible way of segmenting your list. Are you starting to see the possibilities?

Email Marketing & Segmentation: What You’ll Learn

This post will focus on general segmentation concepts and strategies to get your creative juices flowing and to open your eyes to the (potentially huge) opportunities that segmentation offers.

We’ll touch on segmentation strategies based on data like:

  • Geolocation (covered above)
  • Demographics
  • Purchase history
  • Email engagement

However, we won’t be discussing the technical implementation of these strategies, e.g., exactly how to go about it with a specific email marketing platform like AWeber or GetResponse. Suffice to say that nearly all modern email marketing platforms should allow you to segment your database—if yours doesn’t, it’s probably time for an upgrade.

Segmentation By Demographics

Segmenting a list by demographics is a good starting point for email marketers because it offers you a lot of flexibility in terms of customized content.

Demographics might include:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Household income
  • Education level
  • Children
  • Marital status

…And of course many, many more.

The takeaway here is that the way you communicate with a customer that’s a 47 year old divorced male would likely be different than the emails most likely to resonate with a 23 year old newlywed female.

While you can’t communicate with everyone directly—that’s not the point of automated email marketing—you can figure out what kind of demographic information is most relevant to your business (usually 2-5 points, perhaps only one based on your industry) and then market more specifically to those groups.

Splitting Up a List Based on Purchase History

Imagine that you own a small store. On any given day, you’ll have completely new people you’ve never seen walk in (who may or may not purchase something) as well as people you’ve known for years.

Do you treat your loyal customers differently than new prospects?

The “business-y” answer here is, “No, I offer the same high quality attention and care to all of my customers!”

The “reality-y” answer is that yes, you almost certainly would treat these two groups differently. That’s not to say that one group is getting preferential treatment over the others, but the things you would say to them would probably be very different.

The new faces are relative unknowns. You would try to discover their preferences, answer their questions, and present a general overview of your products and services until you learned more about them.

The regular customers would be a very different story. You have a history with them. You know what they like based on their purchase history. If you owned a sporting goods store and one of your customers came in and always bought baseball related items, can you imagine a scenario where you’d walk up to them and start chatting them up about the latest golfing products?

The same concept can be applied to your email marketing database. When you begin segmenting your list based on purchase history, future emails can more accurately suggest products or services that the recipient is actually interested in. Your golfing customers would be more likely to get content about golf, and your baseball customers would get information about baseball.

You can go pretty deep with purchase history segmentation. Say for example a customer group purchased a bag of parakeet food. Your research has indicated that the product should last the average parakeet about three weeks, so three weeks later you send them an email reminding them that they’re running low.

Email Engagement Segmentation

Engagement segmentation is similar to purchase history segmentation. Instead of tracking products, the goal of this kind of segmentation is to track the level of engagement a subscriber has, i.e., how often they open your emails and click the links within it.

Generally, the two factors being tracked here are the open rate (subscribers who open an email) and the click through rate (subscribers who open an email and click a link within it).

In this way you might have three categories: does not open, open but no click through, and open and click through. This helps you determine which subscribers are actively interested in the product. If you start tracking sales via that link, you can further segment the list into buyers and “interested” groups.

Alternatively, you could split your list into two categories: active and inactive. Active users have recently opened an email (or multiple emails). Inactive users are subscribers who haven’t opened a message in 60-90 days.

It’s pretty easy to see how dramatically this could improve the performance of your list, isn’t it?

No Segmentation = Opportunity Cost

You’ve worked hard to build up your email database. The bottom line is that if it’s not segmented, there’s a pretty good chance you’re leaving money on the table—why not make the most out of it?

If you’d like to discuss deeper email segmentation strategies and make sure your website design is up to the task, we’d love to hear from you.

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