Email Segmentation Basics

Email Segmentation Basics: The Guide to a Segmented Strategy


Welcome to your personal guide to email segmentation basics.

Your customers are diverse, unique people.

The email campaigns that will work for some won’t resonate with others. By taking a spray-and-pray approach to your marketing, you waste vast portions of your budget on unengaged readers. What’s more, you may end up harming your relationships with customers too. Every irrelevant email sent to an inbox is a step closer to the “unsubscribe” button for your audience.

So, how do you fix the problem? You learn how to segment your email lists.

Segmented campaigns achieve an average of 59.99% more clicks, and 14.64 more opens than their counterparts. What’s more, according to the DMA, segmented emails also account for at least 58% of all email revenue.

It’s time to explore the benefits of thinking in groups.

How to Target Your Email Marketing: What You’ll Need

On average, marketers see a 20% increase in engagement when they use personalized web experiences. However, you can only deliver a custom experience to your audience, when you know what makes them unique. Email segmentation allows businesses to slice and dice their email list according to specific information, like buyer behavior or demographics.

The more segmented your campaigns are, the more likely it is that your audience is getting the specific emails they want to see. To get started, you’ll need:

  • User data: There’s a reason why data is the most valuable substance in the world. Collecting information about your audience will improve your segmentation strategy. Everything from a person’s gender, to their interests, can inform your campaigns. Some email marketing tools will work on collecting information for you as you continue to work on your strategies.
  • A tool for sending email: It’s practically impossible to send hundreds of segmented emails manually. You’re going to need a tool like MailChimp, AWeber, or CampaignMonitor to get you started. These tools will help you to organize and even automate interactions with each segment.
  • A strategy: Finally, there are dozens of ways that you can segment your plan according to email marketing demographics and data. The easiest option is to start with the basics, then track your results. As you learn from each campaign, you’ll be able to dive deeper into the world of segmented groups.

Email Segmentation Basics: 6 Strategies to Get You Started

List segmentation might sound daunting at first, but it’s much simpler than you’d think. The aim is to simply split your email lists up with the understanding that your audience isn’t a “one size fits all” collection of people.

According to studies, up to 56% of people unsubscribe from business lists because their content isn’t relevant. Here are just some of the most popular options for how to segment email lists, with examples to guide you.

1. How to Segment Email Lists by Demographic

When it comes to mastering email segmentation basics, one of the easiest strategies to use is to split your lists by demographics. In other words, you send different emails to people based on essential data like their gender, age, and even their location (we’ll come back to that in a sec).

Segmenting even by these small details helps you to adjust your entire email strategy. For instance, if you know the age of your audience, you may also identify whether to use things like slang and emojis in the subject line. Remember, emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened.

Demographic segmentation is also an excellent way to develop user personas that will help you to send more targeted campaigns in the long-term. For instance, when you get a welcome email from the fashion company SSENSE, you also get a link where you can update your email preferences. Here, you can choose your country, your language, and your gender.

SSENSE email segmentation example

SSENSE adds all of this information to your specific user persona so that they can send more targeted offers in the future.

2. How to Segment Email Lists by Funnel Stage

The more you learn about things like how to segment email lists, and target the right customers, the more you’ll discover about the buyer funnel. When people interact with your business, they’re often at different stages of the buyer journey. This should have an impact on the kind of emails you sent.

For instance, with a new subscriber, you would use email segmentation basics to send a welcome email. Remember, welcome emails are highly effective. They often achieve up to 320% more revenue than a standard promotional message.

There will also be various other people in your funnel to think about, including:

  • Frequent buyers: The people who are always stocking up on your product or service. These are your VIP subscribers.
  • Learners: The individuals who come to your website regularly and search for information on your products.
  • Non-buyers: People who are happy to sign-up for trials and free samples, but they haven’t bought anything from your brand yet.

No matter where your audience is in their buyer journey, you need to give them value. For instance, when Crayon sends out a welcome email, they focus on building a better relationship with their subscribers. As well as introducing customers to the team, they also offer links to valuable articles.

Crayon welcoming email with links to content

3. How to Segment Email Lists by Engagement

Some people naturally spend more time in their inbox than others. If you’re dealing with someone who checks their messages several times a day, then they may not mind getting information from you more regularly. On the other hand, sending daily emails to someone who only checks their inbox once a week just means that your content piles up and looks spammy.

The only way to know how engaged your audience is is to look at your clickthrough and open rate metrics. Most email marketing tools will allow you to check these KPIs on your profile.

A great way to use email segmentation basics like engagement in your campaign is to hunt down the least interested people in your email list. If you notice people who haven’t opened your emails in months, you can create special campaigns designed to get them back in action. Alternatively, you can remove disengaged followers from your list and focus exclusively on the people who enjoy your content.

Webflow attempts to draw users back to their platform by letting them know how many new customers they’ve earned since the subscriber’s last interaction. This is an excellent way to combine FOMO (fear of missing out) with social proof.

Webflow email featuring social proof

4. How to Segment Email Lists by Location

Though geolocation targeting technically falls under the banner of email segmentation by demographics, it’s worth looking at in closer detail. In a world where experience is the most important thing for a customer, location targeting allows you to deliver more experiential moments for your audience. For instance, you can invite them to a local pop-up shop in their area or share pictures from their city to make them feel like you’re one of the gang.

Some of the best times to use location in your email segmentation basics include:

  • When you’re hosting events in a specific area.
  • When you’re inviting people to join you at a live webinar (where time zones matter)
  • When your business has a heritage in specific towns or areas (to build affinity with customers)

99U email featuring conference in New York City

5. How to Segment Email Lists by Customer Interests

When your followers sign up for your email marketing list, you know that you’re interested in something about your business. A consumer who purchases products through emails spends up to 138% more than those who don’t want to get email offers. In other words, you’re dealing with a highly lucrative group.

However, you may not know exactly what your clients are most intrigued by. Did they follow you because they wanted to buy your products? Were they interested in your blogs and thought leadership? Even people who aren’t directly buying from you can be valuable. Subscribers who believe in the value of your content will share it online and advocate for your business. This draws new leads to your door.

So, how do you find out what your customers are interested in? The easiest option is to just ask them. For instance, gives subscribers the opportunity to customize their messages according to a bucket-load of preferences:

List of Amazon preference options

6. How to Segment Email Lists by Spending Power

Plenty of companies have more than one item to sell or multiple packages of services. One way to use email segmentation basics is to adjust your marketing tactics according to how much you know your audience can spend. For instance, if, you can pinpoint the people who spend the most on your products, then you can highlight them as VIPs and send additional rewards and gifts.

Fashion company Intermix uses their email marketing strategy to separate people into groups based on purchasing potential. Along with “VIPs” – the people with the most disposable income, intermix also looks at price-conscious brand loyalists, and sale shoppers too.

By adjusting their messages to suit the financial needs of their followers, Intermix achieved a 15% increase in their annual revenue. Similarly, you can separate your accounts according to spending power to make each buyer feel special. Muzli celebrates their VIPs with sneak previews of new content:

Muzli sneak peak designer list

Making the Most of Email Segmentation

In the days before affordable email marketing tools and advanced data analytics, email segmentation was tough. Today, however, companies have more ways to learn about their audience than ever before. There’s no excuse for sending the same copy-paste email to everyone in your list. Segmented campaigns increase your revenue by up to 760%!

Using the strategies above, start working on your email segmentation basics, and remember to keep track of your campaigns. Measuring the results of each segmentation effort will highlight which strategies work best for you.



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