5 email segmentation tips to improve your results

McKenzie Gregory

Still not sold on the value of segmenting your email list?

List segmentation is absolutely key to sending your most targeted, relevant messaging possible—and it leads to big-time results. According to eMarketer, 39% of email marketers that practice list segmentation get better open rates, 28% see lower opt-out and unsubscribe rates, and 24% see better email deliverability, increased sales leads, and greater revenue. However, as we found in our 2018 Email Marketing Industry Report, 63% of marketers say less than half of their emails are segmented. 

Since every audience is different, there’s no single, ultimate way to segment that works for everyone. But here are five quick ideas that have been effective for many brands. Use one, some, or all of these ideas to start sending more personalized messages and boost your success rates in no time!


1. Gather customer data from the get-go.

Want to start segmenting? First, you need to gather some information about your subscribers! This signup form from Catbird asks for a lot of info right out the gate. While we don’t normally advocate putting this many fields on an email signup form, Catbird does a smart thing and only requires the email address. That way, each new subscriber gets to choose whether or not they want to share information like their location and birthday during the signup process. It’s a win-win: They stay happy and in control of their customer experience, and Catbird gets the opportunity to find out more about their audience from the very start.



2. Say “Happy Birthday!”

A personalized birthday message is table stakes in the email marketing game these days, so if you can get ahold of the data, it’s a great way to start segmenting your subscribers. This sort of message gives people a nice, warm-and-fuzzy impression of your brand. Plus, birthday emails can lift conversion rates by 60% over non-birthday email messages with the same offer (ClickZ), making them an incredibly effective marketing tactic.

This doesn't just apply to birthdays, either—any sort of date-based segment, like signup anniversary or last visit to your brick-and-mortar store—can serve as a helpful way to break up your audience and deliver relevant messaging. 



3. Use segments that make sense for YOUR brand.

Here’s a fantastic example of really brand-specific segments. The marketers at Bob’s Red Mill serve content to their subscribers based on dietary preferences: in this case, gluten-free versus non-gluten-free. The special attention to detail makes customers feel incredibly valued and shows you’re paying attention to their individual needs.



4. Segment by location.

Another piece of information you can find out pretty easily—either at signup or early-on in your relationship with subscribers—is their location! In this email, Madewell provides a map so subscribers know there's a brick-and-mortar store nearby. That way, they can shop whichever way they prefer… and are much more likely to buy because of it!



5. Keep the customer lifecycle in mind.

More advanced marketers can segment based on where customers are in the buying cycle. In this example from the Dallas Symphony, the general message is the same, but the team used dynamic content so the headers and the special offer would change depending on whether someone was a student, a non-student, or had already purchased tickets. It’s the ultimate in personalization, and it truly works—personalized email delivers 6x higher transaction rates (Experian).



Wrap up 

Relevancy is everything in email marketing.

Consistently delivering a specific, tailored message to smaller groups of subscribers is one of the best ways to make your email marketing as relevant as possible, so find creative ways to segment, and segment as much as possible to see your best results yet. 

About the Author

McKenzie Gregory

McKenzie Gregory is a senior content manager on Emma’s marketing team. A Nashville native, she can be found covering all things email on the Emma blog, debating hyphenation rules, and watching obscene amounts of Netflix without a trace of shame.

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