14 tips on how to segment your email list and make it powerful

Looking for a way to increase your email open rates, your CTR rate, boost your sales and lower unsubscribe rates?

And also reduce your email marketing cost?

There’s one strategy that helps with all of these, used by smart marketers all over the world. It’s email segmentation.

Have you heard that personalised emails deliver 6X higher transaction rates? And that segmented email campaigns have an open rate that is 14.32% higher than non-segmented campaigns?

All of this can be achieved by sending tailored email messages to your customers. Different for a company owner, different for someone who got their first job and different for parents with two kids.

Sending different emails for those groups might sound like common sense (what’s the point in sending the same offer to a company owner and a company worker?).

Many companies didn’t even hear about email segmentation yet (and that’s why I got recently a marketing email with a great deal on a fiber internet, even though fiber internet is not possible where I live yet).

What is email segmentation?

Email list segmentation is a strategy used by email marketers all over the world to put their customers into groups and send tailored emails to their audience instead of just throwing one batch of “one size fits all emails”.

Your email list consists of all kinds of people, with different behavior, different needs, and expectations.

If they are so different, why treat them all the same and give the same content?

By splitting the list into groups (or “segments”), you can tweak the content of your email campaigns for each group, send your customers content useful for them and significantly increase your chances for a sale.

The best thing is, there are tons of ways you can segment your email list to run smart and effective email campaigns that your customers will enjoy!  

From the subscribers’ age, gender, interests, job title, whether they have children or not and where do they live.

If you have a B2B list, you can divide the list into segments based on industry, company size or job function.

Here’s a couple of stats to see how incredibly useful email segmentation is for every company:
  • Segmented and targeted emails generate 58% of all revenue.
  • Marketers have noted a 760% increase in revenue from segmented campaigns.
  • Segmented email campaigns have an open rate that is 14.32% higher than non-segmented campaigns.
  • Click-throughs are 100.95% higher in segmented email campaigns than non-segmented campaigns.
  • 51% of marketers consider email list segmentation to be the most effective personalisation tactic for effective email marketing.

How can I start to segment email?

Figuring out the best way to segment your email marketing lists can be a challenge. And there are so many different ways to do it. To make it a bit easier here are 14 easy ways to get started on a segmentation!

Location

Knowing where exactly your customers live can have a significant effect on your business.

If you’re a local brick-and-mortar business, there’s no point in sending marketing messages to people who are out of the town. If you are a franchise and are organising a local event, sending invites to people who live in another country will only make them angry.

It’s even worse if you send a limited range promotion. Sending a customer an email with an offer only for him to learn the offer is not available in his city is a sure way to lose the customer.

Age

Do you know what the average age of your customer is? With the rapid spread of the internet, people of all ages have access to it. You might have college students, people who got their first job, retire, teenagers and their parents on your list.  

Sending the same offer to a teenager, his parent and his grandparent would look a bit weird.  

Segmenting customers by age also helps you to remove out of your list people who do not belong to your target demographic.

Gender

If you sell products both for men and woman, segmenting your subscribers by gender can help you with sending more relevant emails. If you don’t know the gender of your customers, you can either ask them (by putting a “gender” in your signup form or by asking them what kind of information are they interested in), or you can guess their gender based on their purchase behaviour.

Organization Type

Even if you sell to businesses rather than consumers you can benefit from segmentation.  You definitely have different kinds of companies on your list – franchises, local companies, non-profits, smaller and bigger companies.

They are all different and have different needs so their email content should be changed too. No point in sending the same offer to an enterprise and a small, local business.

Past Purchases

Segmenting by past purchases is another easy way to offer to divide your email list and gives you an opportunity for getting an extra profit.

Ever heard about cross-selling? It’s providing an additional matching item to a customer who already bought something.

Let’s say your customer bought a new phone – you can send him an email recommendation for items or accessories that would go well with their purchase (screen protector or a new cover). If he bought a laptop, maybe he would be interested in purchasing a new mouse.

It works equally well for items requiring renewal (product license) or refilling (perfume bottle). Just send your customers an email that their license is expiring and suggest renewing the license!

Buying Frequency

You surely have clients that purchase from you often, those that buy only once in a while and those who buy only when there are sales. It’s a great way to prepare tailored emails for all those groups – an appreciation email for the frequent shoppers (or maybe an invitation to a loyalty program?), new discount and promotions email for those interested in saving money and re-engaging email for those who didn’t buy anything in last few months.

Content Topic

If your website cover different topics, it’s a good idea to segment email list based on what topics your customers are interested in. If someone is regularly buying supplements, they would be interested in information related to those. Someone else might want healthy lifestyle tips or losing weight tips.

According to Constant Contact, 56% respondents unsubscribe from a newsletter if the content is no longer relevant and 51% respondents leave the newsletter when the content isn’t what they expected – segmenting your list based on the customer preferences can help you with both.

To get that information easier and faster, ask your customers to pick their preferred topics in their user profiles or email subscription centre.

Content Format

Only have a wall of text in your newsletter? It surely works for some customers but not for all. Some of your customers like blogs posts but others prefer videos – and some show their interest only when you put on a webinar. Other customers are interested in infographics, ebooks or podcasts.

Segmenting subscribers based on the type of content they like the most rises engagement with the brand and reduces unsubscribe rate. So if you notice your subscribers react positively to infographics/quizzes/videos or blog posts, try sending them mostly that type of the content!

Change in engagement or buying pattern

Your customers don’t stay as interested in your brand as they were when they signed up. It’s natural that their engagement level (and with this, buying frequency) changes almost every day. Customers who were once very active and bought often stopped interacting with you. Others became more active recently.

By separating customers who are active and engaged from those who are losing interest in your business, you can show your appreciation to the former and try to re-engage the latter ones.

This way, you won’t only make the loyal customers happier, you can also bring the inactive customers back with discounts, freebies and surveys.

Device used

More and more people use their phones and tablets to check their emails. According to Litmus, 46% of all emails were opened on a mobile device.

What is more, about 3 in 5 consumers check their email on the go (mobile) and 75% say they use their smartphones most often to check email. Why is this important?

Because it can have a huge role in how successful your campaign will be! Your newest email might look amazing on a desktop computer, but there’s a high chance it won’t look nearly as well on a mobile.

If the images or fonts don’t load, if the text is either too big or too small to read without pinching the screen or if the email doesn’t even load on a smartphone or a table, your customers will delete it without second thought (and no, they won’t wait until they get home to see your email).

Before starting a new email campaign, check how your email looks on mobile devices – your campaign success might depend on it!

Customers who referred

If you have customers who referred your business to their relatives and family, consider putting them on an exclusive list.

Those customers are your biggest brand advocates – they give you a very valuable advertisement for free and help you get new clients. Thus, they should be treated exceptionally well.

To show your appreciation for them, prepare individual emails with loyalty program offers, referral discounts or maybe exclusive access to a trial version of new products or services.

Shopping Cart Abandonment

According to one study, 68% of customers abandoned their shopping cart before completing a purchase. No wonder cart abandonment is one of the most significant and most common issues in the e-commerce. If that’s also a problem in your store, you need to segment your email lists based on the cart abandonment.

There are several reasons why I customer abandons their shopping cart. Maybe there’s a problem with shipping, maybe they are comparing the prices with different stores or perhaps they have doubts about the product.

By asking those customers about the reason for leaving their cart and solving their problem, you can make a massive change to your sales. The average open rate for cart abandonment emails is 44.1% (with an average click-through rate of 28.7% and 5% conversion rate.)

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New subscribers

People who just signed up for your newsletter are a special kind of customers and need special treatment.

They have high expectations and expect to good quality content in their newsletters. Blasting them with a sales emails immediately after they signed up will only put them off. Many new subscribers aren’t ready for purchase yet.

To make an excellent first impression on your new customers, send them a “Welcome” email. It’s a special kind of triggered email to give your customer confirmation of the sign-up, you can think of it as a virtual handshake.

Welcome emails usually have information about the content the subscriber will receive (sometimes also an option to pick the type of content the customer wants to get), an access to an ebook or a webinar (if a customer signed in using a lead magnet), invitation to join the company social media pages, links to the FAQ/tutorial pages/company blog and often also a special discount for the first purchase – all the things a new subscriber might want to get.

Customers activity or lack of

Every single email list has some inactive subscribers. Some are inactive for a week, others for a month and another subscriber didn’t open your emails for half of a year.  

It’s considered a good practice to put the active and inactive customers on a separate list. Not only it makes your email campaigns more effective, but it also helps with cleaning your email list.   

An inactive subscribers list is an excellent start to re-engage those subscribers. And there’s surely a reason why those customers lost interest in your company. Maybe they can’t get in contact with your customer support, or perhaps they feel you stopped caring.

Sending those subscribers a survey or a freebie (or simply asking them do they want to continue getting newsletters from you) can put them back on track.  

And that’s segmentation in a nutshell!

What other ways to segment your list do you know or use?

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