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by Mike Vestil 

Email Marketing Segmentation: Strategies To Send Targeted Mail

Email marketing segmentation is the process of dividing contacts in your email list into groups based on specific criteria.

Senders can group their email lists so that messages are targeted at the right people, ensuring that each message has a high deliverability rate and brings higher ROI to their business.

In this article, we will look at why email marketers should segment their lists, the types of segments they can create, and how to set up your very own email marketing segmentation strategy. Let’s get right into it.

Email Marketing Segmentation: An In-Depth Definition

Email marketing segmentation is the process of breaking down large volumes of prospects and customers into smaller groups. These segments are created based on location, demographics, trends, interests, behavior patterns, or anything else that makes sense when it comes to your email subscribers.

Using email marketing segmentation allows marketers to reach their target audience more efficiently with relevant information that will help them achieve their goals. 

For example, if your target audience consists of employees within a company, a high-level manager interested in learning about new technology products would be different from a junior-level employee trying to find a job within the company through internal promotion. 

Both individuals may have completely different reasons for opening an email. This means that the content they receive should be tailored towards what they need at that particular time or stage in their professional life.

Why Segmentation Should Be Part Of An Email Marketing Strategy

It is not uncommon for marketers to have hundreds or thousands of contacts in their mailing lists. Why would anyone go through all that trouble to divide their email lists into smaller, more manageable pieces? Here are some of the benefits you can gain by dividing your list.

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Image Credit: http://emailmastery.org

Increase Click-Through Rate

The likelihood of email subscribers opening or clicking on a specific email message is much higher if they have previously expressed interest in similar topics. If your message happens to be about something that just doesn't fit their interests, they will be very unlikely to engage with it. 

Email marketing segmentation allows you to send only the right messages to specific groups, thus increasing engagement rates.

Improve Sales Conversions

You won't waste any time or money trying to sell something to people who would never buy what you're offering anyway. 

The ease of creating segments allows you to divide your list into smaller groups based on purchase history, demographics, interests, or anything else that would allow you to predict whether someone is interested in buying your stuff.

Enhance Deliverability

By splitting your email lists into different segments, you make it easier for people to find the contents they're looking for in their inbox. Messages will stand out more when sent from someone whose name they already know and trust, increasing engagement rates even further. 

Segmenting also helps avoid issues with spam filters that often affect more extensive lists when one person sends various emails that get reported for email spam. 

You can also organize email marketing campaigns better by using reporting, which lets you see how many times your message was read, forwarded, who is opening it and clicking on links. This can help your email marketing effectiveness by segmenting your list before each and every new email marketing campaign that you start.

Save Time And Resources

While some marketers choose to create long lists that include everything and everyone under the sun, others prefer a more tactical approach that focuses only on people who are likely interested in what they have to say. 

Regardless of how many contacts you have on your list, dividing them into smaller segments will allow you to use any section of the list with ease whenever you need it. This means that you’ll be able to come up with, write and send targeted campaigns that have the right message much faster than if you were going with a more general approach.

If you are paying a copywriter to create personalized content, segmentation will also help narrow down the focus of the message being created. This means that you’ll end up spending less money to get content that is just right.

Types Of Segments You Can Create In Your Email Marketing Campaigns

There are several types of email marketing segmentation that you can create depending on what is essential for your business at any particular moment. The typical email service provider will let marketers create segments based on specific criteria, including the following 14 criteria.

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Image Credit: http://smartinsights.com

Offer Viewed/Clicked

This is one of the more popular segments created by marketers because it allows you to create a list full of people who have previously expressed interest in your products or services. 

If someone has taken time out of their day to click on a link within an email message, they are likely very interested in what you have to say, so they might be more open to your marketing messages.

Purchase History

You can also divide your contact list and group customers based on purchase history, i.e., everyone who purchased something from you is put into the same group. In contrast, those who only showed some interest but never purchased anything are put into another group. 

While marketers can use similar subject lines with both groups that entice them to buy/engage with their products, knowing who’s who when sending emails is an important factor to keep in mind while creating the email to send.

Geographic Location

Based on the IP address of customers, marketers can also create separate email groups based on their geo-location. This would be useful for sending promotional campaigns that are only available in certain countries because it's likely you won't get a lot of sales if people from other parts of the world receive these messages.

For example, if someone lives in Australia, they might not benefit from receiving promotions related to camping gear which might appeal more to campers in the USA. 

Sending an all-inclusive advertisement via email can be ineffective because everyone will likely receive the message, and only a few people will respond because it's not targeted enough. It's up to marketers to decide whether demographics should play a significant role in their email marketing segmentation process or not.

Time Of Day/Day Of Week

Marketers can create email marketing segments based on the time of day and day of the week when active subscribers took an action in the past. 

They can use segments built around a specific time frame to craft subject lines that appeal more to people who read their emails during the early hours of the morning or late at night when they have a lot more free time on their hands. 

You could also divide your list into smaller groups depending on which days they prefer receiving mail, as some may only check their inboxes over the weekend. In contrast, others might only do it during workdays, thus creating two separate lists that should be marketed accordingly.

Email Subject Line Response

In this case, marketers will want to build an email list that includes everyone who has responded positively to certain subject lines over others who didn’t. 

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Image Credit: http://blog.sanebox.com

This can include people that engaged with your emails by sending you a reply to your original message. Specific people respond better to certain subject lines - which is great to know when you want to send an email that you know will be read by your audience. 

You can go a step further and divide these segments into smaller groups depending on how quickly recipients responded to the email message using more advanced segmentation criteria.

Specific Page Visited On Your Site

Marketers can create separate lists that segment prospects based on which pages were visited before. 

Instead of only creating segments based on what people have clicked or viewed, you can create a group that includes everyone who visited particular web pages within your website. This way, marketers can learn more about the specific pages their customers are interested in, gaining knowledge that could be used to craft better marketing messages in the future.

Suppose someone visits the blog page but never views any of the product or category pages. In that case, you'll want to create a marketing message that’s different than the one created for someone who has already shown interest in both areas.

Email Open Rate

Marketers should also create separate email lists based on how frequently customers are opening your emails because this might change over time. 

For example, if someone has opened three out of five emails during a specific month and then opens two out of ten emails in the next month, they may need to be switched over to a new segment. The reason behind this is that this person might no longer fall within your original parameters for what you deem to be “customers engaged”.

Demographics/Interests

Like geographical segments, marketers can create email segmentation based on interests and demographics to send targeted emails to people with similar characteristics. However, this would be more effective for businesses that sell products/services geared towards a specific group of people instead of offering general deals. 

For example, if someone lives in America but visits websites related to European fashion trends, they would fall into the demographic segment created by marketers trying to target customers interested in this sort of lifestyle. 

Subject lines could utilize language like "Join our club" or "Enter our contest," thus encouraging them to sign up for specific lead magnets that might be more interesting to them and what they’re looking for.

Age Range

Age can be a critical factor when it comes to marketing. For example, people interested in luxury products under the age of thirty might not be interested in receiving emails about 20% off deals on winter clothing because they have no use for this kind of information.

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Image Credit: http://optinmonster.com

In addition, older and younger people tend to shop in different ways. You might find it more effective to send emails to younger people during the weekend instead of weekdays due to their potential free time, as well as targeting those who use their smartphones for shopping because they're more likely to be interested in quick deals.

Birthday

It's relatively common for marketers to send emails around birthdays, wishing their customers their best on this special occasion. Customers like the attention they get from companies on their big day (especially if there’s a coupon code or two attached with the email). This is also an excellent opportunity to segment your email list and form a relationship with the people you email.

In addition, businesses might have more time to plan for birthdays than they do for holidays because this only happens on one day versus several. This enables marketers to create more personalized emails with specific deals or discounts that interest their customers and encourage them to make the most out of them on their special day (urgency is one of the best tools to use on this type of occasion).

Job Title

Where someone works can say a lot about who they are, which means separating contacts by job title can help marketers appeal to their customers more effectively. 

For example, an engineer might be interested in receiving news on new gadgets, while a teacher probably desires lesson plans and classroom technology information.

In addition, some people like to network by joining different groups based on their profession. Because of this, sending emails with relevant content can lead to increased sales since these individuals are more likely to be influential in (or even influenced by) their community.

Customer Lifetime Value

Customer lifetime value is one of the more important email marketing KPIs to measure and define how much a single customer spends on average throughout their entire business relationship with a company. For example, if someone purchases three products for $40 each within the first month of signing up for your mailing list, that's $120 in lifetime value they’re added to your business.

However, this number could go up or stay the same depending on how many emails they open or click because there are always customers who unsubscribe or simply don’t buy anything else as time goes by. 

Marketers can use this information to form different segments since those who've only spent $100 might not be as valuable as someone who has already spent $500. By segmenting email lists like this, marketers will know exactly who to encourage to make another purchase, the marketing efforts required, and the type of messaging to use.

Stage In Sales Funnel

Different stages in the buying process require marketers to communicate differently to influence their clients positively. Someone who needs a solution to their problem browsing will respond more favorably to promotional discounts than they will to an informative yet general blog post.

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Image Credit: http://getvoip.com

On the other hand, customers with past purchases from you might increase the odds they'll buy again if there's something new and exciting to try out. This subscriber behavior can only be tracked and acted upon if you have at least basic segmentation happening within your business.

Email Segmentation Tools

Email segmentation is easier than ever because it's available through many email marketing tools. For example, MailChimp (one of the most popular email service providers [ESP] available) has a feature that allows users to create segments based on specific interests, geographical location, behavior, and the time of day people read their messages.

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Image Credit: https://mailchimp.com/

This can help marketers send more successful emails with better response rates without having to manually copy/paste addresses into one master list.

Marketers who use Constant Contact (another popular ESP) can also utilize email segmentation by dividing groups into smaller segments based on different factors like open rate or demographic information.
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Image Credit: http://https://www.constantcontact.com/

Different email marketing software offers features and methods by which you can segment your list. Some even have an auto-segment tool that will move customers from one list to another every few months, so your leading group doesn't get too big while still keeping in touch with everyone over time instead of just during one campaign.

You should remember that creating the right segments is crucial to business success, so investing time into finding the right tool as well as allowing enough time to segment and test to find the best results, are both necessary activities.

Creating automation workflows that involve segmentation can help marketers save time and improve the chances of their messages being read. For example, those who participate in a daily deal site can be added to an automated workflow that sends out a newsletter with a coupon code to users as soon as they join your list.
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Image Credit: http://sendinblue.com

By segmenting your email marketing lists, you'll have more insight into what your audience wants from you because it will be easier to tell who is opening emails and clicking on links. This way, marketers know exactly how valuable each customer group is, allowing them to spend more time targeting customers that are likely to buy again or refer others to the business.

Email Marketing Segmentation - FAQ

Can segmented campaigns be created immediately after a user completes a signup form?

Absolutely. A segment does not have to be defined late in a campaign; it can be done immediately after a lead has completed a signup form and created based on the behavioral data collected at this stage.

Is it hard to segment your email list if you have thousands of people already on non-segmented campaigns?

No. You can create a segment right away with a few quick clicks. It's efficient and straightforward to do. There are many companies that have several thousand emails in their database and are segmenting them with ease.

Will new subscribers know they have been segmented?

A new subscriber (or even those that have been on your list for some time) will never know they have been segmented. Email segments are created by yourself in your email service provider and not by the people who sign up for your list.

Can I change my mind about segmenting someone?

Absolutely. You can easily remove or edit any segment at any time. This is one of the many benefits of using email marketing campaigns; it's flexible and efficient to use, which also helps you save time.

Can segmented email campaigns build loyal customers?

Emphatically yes. Loyalty comes from a customer who has been treated well and remembers your efforts to provide them with valuable content. Let your customers decide which emails they want to receive; don't force anything on them. The aim of segmentation is just to send more targeted campaigns.

What do targeted campaigns mean?

Targeted campaigns simply mean that a person receiving the email has requested to receive that specific content. Customers will receive value from the first follow-up email to the last because they have asked for it.

Do people complain about segmentation?

No. Most people are looking forward to receiving targeted emails instead of being overwhelmed by too much content. Most people do not want to receive every email you send out but would rather pick and choose what they wish to read based on demographic segmentation, behavior segmentation, or any other important factor for your business.

Final Thoughts On Email Marketing Segmentation

In conclusion, an email segmentation strategy is one of the essential tasks in email marketing. You can use the information you have about your subscriber base combined with their behavior on or off your site to target them with relevant messages, increasing click-throughs and conversions.

By following this guide and putting the systems we've outlined into action, you will be able to increase profits from your email segmentation strategies and prove the value of email marketing in your business.

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About the author 

Mike Vestil

Mike Vestil is the author of the Lazy Man's Guide To Living The Good Life. He also has a YouTube channel with over 700,000 subscribers where he talks about personal development and personal finance.

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