Why email segmentation matters + 5 ways to get started
Last updated: November 28, 2022
With the widespread shift of remote work has come equally widespread email fatigue. And people are especially sick of receiving emails that aren’t relevant for their needs.
That in mind, how can marketers better execute their email campaigns without spamming or stressing out their audiences? Segmentation.
Segmentation is the process of dividing recipients into groups based on a common characteristic, web behavior or attribute for the purpose of sending them more targeted, personalized communications.
This ensures that each message is only going to the people that are most interested in each email’s content – and prepared to act on any included offers.
For instance, you might create a segment of American customers, then send them a promotion related to Black Friday deals. You might send a targeted newsletter only to people who downloaded a related eBook from your company. Or you might combine two or three filters to narrow in on a hyper-specific audience, like people who have visited a certain page 3+ times but haven’t subscribed to your newsletter yet.
The point is that you can create an infinite number of segments relating to specific content, products, promotions and locations. From there, you can give everyone in your audience the most salient message that will inspire them to act – giving you more meaningful results and a more engaged, loyal audience.
Learn how to optimize your email marketing strategy with segmentation in this guide:
The most powerful benefits of email segmentation
- Increase click and click-through rates: If you’re going to the effort of sending a campaign only to the people most likely to be interested in it, you’re way more likely to give your recipients offers that inspire them to click through and learn more. (Note: Click rates are the most predictive measure of email engagement, so look to prioritize clicks above opens.)
- Increase conversions: Once recipients have clicked through to your website, they’re more likely to take the intended action stated in your email, like downloading the eBook you told them about or renewing their subscription.
- Decrease unsubscribes and complaints: Segmentation lowers the odds that people receive irrelevant emails from your brand, making it less likely that they’ll leave your list.
- Avoid spam filters: The more people open and click your emails, the better your deliverability will be, meaning your emails will stay out of spam folders.
5 ways to easily segment your audience
Chances are, you’re already using segmentation in your email strategy, but not to the fullest extent. Below are some of the best ways to segment your email audience – and some techniques to make the most of each one.
You probably already have some basic contact information about your audience that you can use for segmentation purposes. That includes gender, age, location, job title, etc.
Let’s say that you want to attract a wide range of entry- to senior-level professionals to your publishing conference. With such a broad audience, what amenities should you highlight in the email to get maximum registrations?
By segmenting your email by job title, you can provide different, more appealing options for each audience. For instance, you could highlight exclusive roundtables and networking opportunities in one email to senior professionals, then mention skills-based workshops in another email to their more junior counterparts.
Need more basic information about your subscribers? Consider asking them for more information via an “update your information” campaign (note: you can easily incorporate this into a re-engagement campaign). You could also add more fields to your sign-up form or use progressive profiling to collect demographic information over time.
Similarly, customers often change their email address, physical address, company, etc., which can lead to your emails getting lost or becoming less relevant over time. If you use a customer data platform like Omeda, you can easily identify duplicated profiles and merge them into one “winning” profile that’s used going forward.
Demographic data can provide good insight into an audience’s basic preferences. But in marketing, it’s best to base your segmentation strategy on what people are already doing.
Good news: You can also target your audience based on actions they’ve taken with your company. For example, in Omeda, you can identify people who have engaged in specific behaviors during a certain time period and create segments for each. This includes website visits, webinar and event registrations, eBooks downloads, ad clicks, etc. You can use this information in a few different ways.
So how can you use behavior-based segments? First, you can see what topics your audience is most interested in, then create segments around those topics. (Streamline this by adding a preference page to your sign-up form. This way, new subscribers can choose what kind of emails they want to receive from you.)
Depending on what kinds of content and emails your audience is engaging with, you can also figure out where they’re at in the sales funnel, then adjust your messaging strategy accordingly. Or you could create a segment for your most promising leads – and send them exclusive content, invitations to networking events or exclusive dinners, etc.
To do this well, you need to create content and emails that correspond to distinct states in the sales funnel. (If you host events, you can also plan breakout sessions that correspond to spots in the funnel. Since attendees need to pick one session over another, this is a good way to spot where each person’s at.)
Say you’re selling a subscription service for content creators. You’d use the following pieces of content, then look at the number of website visits and downloads, to see how prepared your audience is to make a purchase:
- Top of funnel: First, you tell your audience they need your product – and subtly introduce yourself as the solution. A good piece of top-funnel content would be something like “5 Reasons You Need To Monetize Your Content in 2023.”
- Middle of funnel: Now, you need to present specific use cases for your product. So create content related to specific ways that people use the platform, for example, “How to increase repeat viewership and engagement with a paid content membership program.”
- Bottom of funnel: Your audience also has the information they need about your platform. What they need now is reassurance that they can use it to achieve the promised results with your platform. Target these users with a new case study, whether that’s in a standalone email, video, case study or downloadable ebook.
Sometimes, you might want to target your most active subscribers with a special promotion or test some new messaging on them. Or maybe you just want to reward them for their loyalty. In Omeda, you can target these VIPs by querying users who have opened and/or clicked your emails within a pre-set time interval.
From there, you can adjust your messaging or call-to-action based on engagement levels. Say that you’re promoting a conference for your B2B media publication: In your email to highly engaged subscribers, you might provide more information about the speaker or even invite them to submit questions. But for less engaged audiences, you might offer a discount code or free subscription bundle in the email instead.
You can also isolate users who haven’t engaged with your emails within a certain time period. Use this to spot lapsed subscribers and target them with a re-engagement campaign.
The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, making purchase history a super actionable way to segment your audience.
With that information, you can provide customers with offers and promotions that match purchases they’ve made in the past. This introduces your audiences to the deals they’re most likely to want, rather than relying on them to keep looking for themselves. Besides increasing revenue, this also improves customer experience and retention.
And if your organization has multiple brands, product lines or publications on offer? You can use someone’s purchase history to promote related products or upgrades to them through email.
For instance, you could split your magazine audience into free and paid subscribers, then send the “free” segment a discounted offer to upgrade to your premium tier. You could also create segments for subscribers of each magazine, then promote similar magazines across your various audiences. Both are great tactics for increasing revenue and lifetime customer value – without getting spammy or intrusive.
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