Email segmentation

Here’s What You Need to Know About Email Segmentation

Better segmentation means better engagement and higher conversions.

I recently came across this interesting article from ClickZ: To Send or Not To Send an Email…That is the Question.

It got me thinking about the role that email segmentation plays in digital campaigns. My thought is this: Highly targeted campaigns will outperform un-segmented ones every time in conversions and ROI.

Untargeted email newsletters still have a place in the email world but they must be used sparingly. In fact, legitimate email newsletters account for 70% of all “this is spam” complaints! 

That means that people opted-in to those lists – they wanted the company to send them emails. But, over time, the emails didn’t meet their expectations and weren’t useful so they clicked the “this is spam” button instead of opting-out.

When you’re designing your email campaigns, think about your target audience and segment your customers accordingly. 

Sure there might be one or two people who would have purchased the item but they didn’t get the message. But for every one customer that MIGHT have purchased, there are dozens who will report the message as spam because they aren’t interested at all. That will kill your reputation and deliverability.

Segmenting your email list into targeted groups is THE BEST thing you can do. The targeted messages will keep customers engaged – and engaged customers will visit your site regularly and will even purchase things outside of their segment. 

For example, I shop on Banana Republic’s website often for myself. I know they sell men’s clothes and someday I might buy a shirt for my husband. But that doesn’t mean that Banana Republic should add me to the men’s clothing segment. Their emails just have to keep me engaged by sending me the items I’m MOST interested in. That’s what will get me shopping on their website.

Targeted emails will also increase the lifetime value of each customer. Email ROI and conversions will increase and your reputation will be safe.  You just don’t get those benefits from untargeted campaigns.

For many, the challenge is knowing where to get started with segmentation. That’s why we’ve put together details on how to segment your subscriber lists and a few best practices to get you started.

So let’s dive in and take a look at a few different ways you can improve your email segmentation efforts to start taking full advantage of highly targeted campaigns. 

How to Segment Your Subscriber Lists

When it comes to segmenting your customer list, it all comes down to the data you have on your customers. Once you have the data, there are a number of different ways you can start to group customers into smaller segments. From there, you can start to develop campaigns around the specific interests of your customers and provide them with the most relevant content possible. 

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Adding segmentation will improve your email metrics by increasing the good and decreasing the bad. The more targeted your campaigns are, the more engagement you’ll see.

After you’re up and running with your own email segmentation, see benefits such as:

  • Higher open rates
  • More unique opens
  • Higher click-through rates
  • Lower bounces
  • Lower unsubscribes 

To get to these results, you first have to start your segmentation process. If you’re not sure where to start or looking for new ways to further segment your list — here are a few of the most common ways that you can segment your subscriber list. 


Using your customer’s demographics is one of the easiest and most common ways that companies use segmentation. This can include customer details such as age, gender, education, income, and much more. 

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You can learn plenty of information about your customers from their demographic data. This will help you provide the most relevant information based on their personal details. Image courtesy of PickFu. 

Once you know this data, you can start serving content based on their personal demographic details. The Banana Republic example discussed previously is a perfect example of using demographics to segment your campaigns.

Geographical Area 

Knowing the geography of where your customers live and shop can be a very valuable tool and is another great way to segment your subscriber list. With this information, you can send emails to customers based on their proximity to a store or about events happening near them.

There are plenty of options when it comes to using geographic data to target customers including: 

  • Time-based email messages to reach customers based on their time zones
  • Advertise regional promotions to the right customers
  • Promote events happening near where your customers live
  • Notify customers about sales and promotions for the store they shop at most 

Geographical data is a great option to bring customers into your stores and provide them with location-specific content. 

Personal Interests 

This one may take some time to build up data on, but understanding the interests of your customers can be very beneficial. If you can identify common interests among your customers, you can then use that interest as a way to appeal to them on a more personal level. 

To gather this type of information, you can add questionnaires to forms, send surveys and polls, and many other creative options. At the most simple level, understanding how often and what types of content your customers want to receive is important. 

Engagement Level

Understanding the engagement levels of your customers can help you better target them based on their interactions with your brand. Once you know what customers are engaging with your content the most and those who may not be engaging at all, you can start to develop campaigns based on these needs. 

For example, for those customers who engage with your content on a regular basis, send them targeted campaigns to encourage them to make a purchase. On the other hand, you can pinpoint customers who are at risk of churning and create retention campaigns in an attempt to win them back and keep them active. 

If you have the ability to track and analyze customer engagement levels, it’s a great option to improve your email segmentation. 

Purchase and Browsing Behaviors

The purchase and browsing behaviors of your customers can provide you with invaluable insights. It will tell you what products they are interested in and allow you to rank exactly how likely customers are to engage and make purchases from your emails. 

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Knowing how your customers are browsing and purchasing items from your company can provide invaluable insights. You can then target them based on their specific behaviors and needs. Image courtesy of LeadQuizzes. 

Here are a few examples of how segmenting by purchase and browsing behaviors can benefit you: 

  • Identify customers who are making frequent purchases with your company and customers who might need a little extra incentive to complete their purchase
  • Share relevant product recommendations based on their previous behaviors to increase sales
  • Know exactly what subscribers have made a purchase with your brand and what ones have not
  • Understand how frequently your customers are visiting your website and making purchases to identify your loyal fans

Having an understanding of how your customers are engaging with your website and what their past purchasing behaviors are will make a big impact on your bottom line. 

Segmentation Best Practices

Now that you know more about what to focus on and how to improve your segmentation, let’s take a look at a few best practices to help you get started. 

  1. Start Small and Build Your Segmentation Efforts Overtime 

When you’re just starting out, you don’t have to tackle everything all at once. 

Start slow and work your way up to a highly sophisticated segmentation strategy. Maybe that means focusing on one or two main data points such as demographics and engagement levels. Once you start to feel more confident in your segmenting ability, you can then add on another layer and continue doing so until you’ve captured everything. 

It might start out as one single email that targets customers based on the geographical location, but before you know it you’ll be developing highly targeted campaigns for all of your customers. 

  1. Know Your Customers Before You Start

While the point of segmentation is to understand your customers on a more personal level, there is some work that should be done ahead of time. You need to have some basic knowledge of who your customers are and what they want. 

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