5 Ways to Segment Your Email List

You know segmenting your email list can bring you exponentially better results by improving deliverability and increasing click-through and conversion rates. And you know that more and more consumers expect to receive emails that are personalized and tailored to their interests. But maybe you’re not sure where to start, because there are so many ways to “slice and dice” subscriber information.

Fear not: We’re here to help!

First, we recommend keeping two things in mind:

  • Your business strategy: What overall goal do you want to achieve, both in your business as a whole, and in your email campaigns?
  • The behavior and buying decisions of your audience: How has your audience behaved up until now? In what ways can you influence their behavior going forward, in order to achieve your goals (see above)?

Once you’re clear on the points above, you can segment your email list based on the following criteria:

1. Industry or Role
2. Geography
3. Content Interests
4. Behavior
5. Brand Advocates

Before we take a look at these criteria in more detail, a suggestion: Start slowly  and grow your segmentation initiative over time. Even minimal effort around segmentation can create significant results. So get a handle on the type of segmentation that feels most natural and easy for your business, and work your way up from there. By taking small steps, you’ll build your confidence and avoid overwhelm.

1. Industry or Role

This is most relevant for B2B companies who serve multiple industries, or whose products are of interest to many different roles within a business. Pay special attention to the tone in your messages here; you aren’t going to speak to a CEO the same way you’d speak to a programmer. And, of course, they are going to have entirely different interests, so make sure you are using language that makes sense to each individual audience.

2. Geographic

This type of segmentation works best when the subscriber’s location is relevant to their purchasing decision; for example, if you and/or your business have a special connection to a local area. Additionally, businesses like restaurants, landscaping or home cleaning services may be limited by a geographic location. You’d also want to use geographic segmentation for event and other invitation emails.

3. Content Interests

Use actual stats here, not just assumptions about what your subscribers are interested in. Look at the materials they’ve downloaded, the content they’ve viewed, and segment your email list based on what you find. For example, you can send a very targeted follow-up email with a special offer for anyone who viewed a specific video or downloaded a particular white paper from your site. You can also segment these subscribers into a focused lead nurturing email program based on content they’ve already expressed an interest in.

4. Behavior

You can segment based on the behavior of your subscribers, but in order to do this effectively, you’ll need to be sure you’re keeping track of the right analytics and stats. If you’re able to distinguish the browsing behavior of different website visitors, you can use this information to make your communications more relevant. For example, if someone has visited your site several times, downloaded lots of information, and followed you on one or more social media channels, you’ll want to send them a very different email from one you’d send to someone who just visited your site for the first time. This can be a highly impactful way to segment your list, so it’s another great reason to stay on top of your site’s analytics.

5. Brand Advocates

This type of segmentation requires you to know who your best customers are. Who has purchased from you frequently? Who is following you via social media? Who has recommended you or your products to others? Who has blogged about you, or advocated for you online (or in a live presentation or event)? This information can have a huge impact on your business.

When you have a loyal customer, you must nurture your relationship with them – not just because it can bring your more business, but because it’s the right thing to do! Create a list made up solely of your best and most loyal customers and brand advocates, and send personalized communications to them on a regular basis. Thank-yous, special offers just for them, advance notice or exclusive access to new products or services, rewards… There are so many ways to acknowledge the difference these people make to your business, and you can use email to show how much you appreciate their support.

We hope the tips above have provided you with a solid jumping-off point for segmenting your email lists. Now we’d like to hear your ideas. What criteria do you use to segment your lists? Let us know in the comments!