Email Marketing Segmentation: Slice Your Email Database Effectively

How not to get blacklisted? How to improve conversions? How often to send an email?
There are a few secrets to running successful email marketing campaigns, and segmentation is one of the key ones. Only a few of us focus enough on segmentation – yet, it’s the one thing that almost always helps to increase conversions.
If you are not familiar with email segmentation strategies, then think about your own inbox. Which emails do you usually open? Are they the ones with some random stuff written in them, or the ones that offer something you really need? Well, this is exactly what segmentation means, targeting the right list for marketing the right things to the most receptive people.
According to DMA, 77% of email marketing ROI comes from segmented, targeted, and triggered campaigns. Now that we can see how important segmentation is, the next question is how to do it effectively? There are dozens of strategies and each of them may work in certain conditions. But let’s first figure out what are the most important basic criteria for any industry.

1. General: Geography, Age, Gender

Information about your customers’ location is one of the most powerful criteria for segmentation. It doesn’t matter whether you are an eCommerce store or brick-and-mortar business, knowing where your target audience lives make a huge difference. For example, you can segment your lists by region, state, zip code, or even a country, to ensure that you will have the possibility to deliver your goods to potential customers.
People of all ages have access to the Internet these days, especially on mobile, which means you could be emailing a college student, a retiree, or even a child. Think twice before sending your email, because you never know who may receive it. Knowing the age of your recipients can ensure that you will remove from the email list those who are not your target audience.
Segmenting by gender can be useful for retailers that sell a wide range of special products geared towards a specific gender. However, this criterion should be used together with other types of data, such as geography or age.
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2. Personal: Job function, Education Level, Seniority Level

If you are a B2B marketer, gleaning some personal information about your subscribers is essential. There could be a bunch of different people and cross-sections in your email list – for example, office personnel or IT specialists who would expect a totally different style or approach from an email.
You could also segment your list based on the amount of knowledge that subscribers have (or lack thereof). If you segment your list based on the level of understanding they have on the topics you write about, you can tailor your lead nurturing content to speak at the right comprehension level.
Sometimes, knowing their job role is not enough. For example, your lead may be the VP of Sales or a Sales Assistant, so this changes your proposal and topic completely, right?

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3. Buying Behavior: Past Purchases, Purchase Interests, Buying Frequency, Purchase Cycle

If some of your subscribers have purchased from you before, use that information to send them another email catered and targeted to their interests and buying habits. In such emails, you can also add some featured products or special offers based on their past purchases or viewing/searching habits.
How can you find out about the purchase interests of your target audience if they haven’t bought anything from you yet? Does it sound impossible? In that case, simply ask your subscribers! Create simple yet useful surveys offering some incentives to your target audiences, like coupon codes or discounts, in exchange for valuable information.
A good idea is to segment your email list based on how often someone purchases. This strategy can help you reward your frequent shoppers with an invitation to a loyalty program, and can provide incentives for those who’ve purchased only once.
Do certain customers come to you on a weekly, monthly, yearly, or quarterly basis? Or perhaps your business has seasonality trends like spring and fall purchases? Segmenting your email list based on a purchase cycle will ensure that you send the right email with an attractive proposal at the right time.

Wrap Up

Now that you have started thinking about how having an email marketing segmentation strategy can help your business, it’s time to implement some of these ideas to your email list, so you can start sending highly personalized email campaigns to your existing and future customers. Experiment and combine various criteria to find your own unique formula for success!

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  • Heath Weaver

    Managing Director, Principal

    Heath Weaver has almost two decades of eCommerce digital marketing experience. He has run multiple agencies, headed up Search Engine Marketing for the consumer electronics division of Sony, and served as a Vice President at Trilogy Software. He enjoys working day-to-day with clients to level up their retention marketing game.