Advanced Email Segmentation [FREE Video Tutorial]
Going above and beyond with eCommerce email segmentation
Email Segmentation is at the core of effective email marketing. Segmented messaging has been proven to generate more engagement, increase sales conversions and reduce subscriber churn.
In this article, we are going to talk about advanced email segmentation and how to go beyond just basic level segmentation with your email marketing program.
Segmentation is a hot topic, but marketers are still often kind of confused in terms of where to start. Once they get the basic levels going, they don’t know how to get deeper and deeper with their segmentation and targeting opportunities.
We are going to go tactical here in terms of a lot of examples as well as different types of segmentation that can be done for your subscriber base. We will be focused primarily on email and how, based on your technology, some of that may or may not be available depending on the platforms you are using. But in the ideal scenario, if you have a powerful platform, it’s going to enable you to get through all these segmentation opportunities.
Why Do You Need to Segment Your Subscribers?
To begin with, why would you need to deal with segmentation? Basically, it has been proven that segmented messaging, as opposed to mass messaging generates more engagement through opens and clicks as well as increases sales conversions. If you are sending more relevant messages to individual groups within your subscriber base then you will be able to generate more positive metrics across the board. In this case, fewer people will get annoyed with your message or unsubscribe.
How to Build a Subscriber Profile
Often times we have incomplete data about our subscribers. We can use a variety of tactics for piecing together a complete profile of each subscriber. For example, if you are just having an email capture form on your website and it is asking only for an email address, first and last name, that’s a very basic piece of information.
So, here are a couple of ways to start building a subscriber profile:
- Reverse appending – using external data providers to fill in demographic and personal information based on your file of email addresses.
- Behavioral cues – utilizing a subscriber’s behavior, such as which links she clicks, what pages she views, and what category/type of products she purchased to build a better understanding of her profile.
- Prediction engines – product-based or subscriber based prediction algorithms that use past history, as well as related characteristics to show predictive content.
- User submitted info – through surveys, feedback forms, preferences centers, etc. This is quite reliable, but it is often harder to obtain as it requires a very engaged contact to take the additional action.
Now that we have methods to build our subscriber profile, let’s jump to actual types of segmentation together with concrete samples on how to utilize each type of segmentation.
1. Advanced Segmentation Tactics: Location Segmentation
Location segmentation utilizes information about a subscriber’s current or historical physical location for the purposes of targeting your messages.
There are a couple of ways to determine your customer’s’ location:
- Geo-IP based on metadata during email opens/clicks
- Billing or Shipping addresses
- Country-level domains
Here are some sample uses that we usually employ at Essence of Email. It is not a full set of possibilities, but ideas on how to utilize this segmentation within your email marketing program:
- Sending campaigns based on recipient’s time zone
- Sending local events/pop-up stores notifications
- Excluding locations from shipping promotions
- Options for faster delivery times
- Localized language or holiday campaigns
- Local compliance activities, such as opt-in requirements
2. Advanced Segmentation Tactics: Affinity Segmentation
Affinity segmentation refers to breaking out subscribers based on them gravitating towards a certain product, type of message, values (speed of delivery, customer experience, product quality, price), etc.
Here are some sample ideas of what you can segment across:
- Purchased product A, but not product B – opportunity to cross-sell
- Viewed specific product or category
- Sensitivity to promotion types (shipping offers vs. $ discounts vs. % discounts vs. free gift with purchase, etc.). Measured by opens/clicks + browse behavior on these promotions
- Affinity towards content type – new arrivals, blog content, social updates, contests, etc. If clicked on hairstyles video > send additional hair resources email
- Combining behaviors, i.e. Purchased men’s watch or men’s cufflinks + viewed men’s category + selected interested in Men’s accessories = Men’s affinity segment
You are not really restricted to only building segments on one criterion. You can combine different criteria like demographic information, or behavior patterns, or other information you have to construct relevant segments for your messaging.
3. Advanced Segmentation Tactics: Activity Segmentation
Activity segmentation measures how often a subscriber takes a positive or negative action regarding your store or communication, such as opening emails, making purchases and visiting the website.
- Active on site within the last week, but did not make a purchase – retarget them through email and Facebook
- Inactive (no opens/clicks) within the last 6 months – send re-engagement email with plain text for higher chance of reactivating them
- Opens emails infrequently – send to them 1x per month. Opens emails frequently – send to them 1x per week
- Purchased 2x over lifetime – alert them if they purchase 1x more, they’ll qualify for VIP group
- Purchased 3x over lifetime – qualifies for VIP group, receives VIP perks (early promotions, new product announcements, double entries into contests, free loyalty points)
- Makes a referral – gets loyalty points to be redeemed for product or coupon
- Collects redeemable amount of points – receives notification for redemption options
4. Advanced Segmentation Tactics: Technology Segmentation
Everyone has a bunch of different devices, like laptops, desktops, mobile, tablet and of course different email addresses. Someone might be on Yahoo, Gmail, Outlook or different email app for viewing their emails. Technology segmentation helps you understand how subscribers are viewing your emails and how to provide them with the best user experience.
Technology segmentation looks at a subscriber’s email-viewing device (mobile/desktop/tablet) as well as their email address domain and their email client to determine how best to display messages and/or tailor content.
- Mobile-first templates for mobile users
- Only sending to engaged Gmail subscribers, while being more lax with non-Gmail domains (Gmail weighs heavily on engagement metrics)
- Code optimizations for MS Outlook
5. Advanced Segmentation Tactics: Acquisition Channel Segmentation
Acquisition channel segmentation looks at dividing up subscribers based on how they entered the email list. In short, it is all about the source of the subscriber acquisition and how to utilize this to segment your messaging correctly.
Here are a couple of examples:
- Sweepstakes or contest subscribers receive a much more concentrated sequence of welcome emails with a shorter delay
- First-time customers receive a post-purchase flow
- Repeat customers receive more personal messaging, incentives, calls-to-action to promote the brand
- Blog subscribers get more content-focused emails and fewer direct sales-based emails
- Suppressing Amazon.com customers for compliance reasons
Hopefully, you’ve got a lot of good ideas to work on and can expand your horizons in terms of how you think about email segmentation, and how deeply you can go with the possibilities here. Just keep in mind that none of these can happen Day 1 necessarily, but as you move your email program forward either by yourself or with a professional agency, you can continue to get more and more precise with your message targeting.
What’s more, given the fact that these days email is one of the best channels to formulate relevant messaging, your subscribers are going to get very personalized messages that they are actually engaged with, versus the one-size-fits-all approach which is both disengaging and hurtful to a sender and potential clients.
You can watch a full tutorial on Advanced Email Segmentation Strategies as well as examples of all the segmentation types here: