7 most effective email marketing segmentation strategies to try

Are your email marketing efforts falling flat?

In an age when social media and paid advertising seem to be dominating center stage, the (debunked) argument that “email is dead” continues to be perpetuated.

However, email continues to be a strong force, and many marketers are realizing the truth:
Email can deliver a greater return on investment (ROI) than any other type of marketing. Studies indicate it delivers $44 for every $1 spent.

The reason that this channel is more powerful now comes down to email marketing segmentation. By breaking your list down into defined segments, you can personalize messaging to connect with prospects on a more meaningful level.

Ultimately, this allows marketers to send the right emails to the right people at the right time, which reaps great rewards for your brand and business.

Let’s get started with email marketing segmentation to take your customer engagement to the next level.

Where to start with email marketing segmentation

There are multiple benefits to using segmentation in email marketing. It can boost your open rates, clicks, and conversions.

While there is a lot to be gained once you get the hang of it, the process of implementing email marketing segmentation can seem a little daunting at first.

Here are seven segmentation strategies to consider adding to your email marketing strategy:

1. Website behavior

The beauty of modern marketing is that we have a plethora of innovative tools that we can use to gather information about people. By harnessing the power of data insights, companies can track the on-site behaviors of website visitors, and then use the information to craft targeted emails.

There is an endless list of types of behavior you can analyze, including: 

  • Scrolling behaviors
  • Pages visited
  • Time spent on page
  • Product categories visited
  • Products viewed
  • Videos watched

With proper analysis, you can leverage this data to create segmented, personalized emails, which maximizes your ROI on email marketing. This is much smarter than sending generic emails to your whole list.

LinkedIn updates its users with information about relevant activity in their network since their last visit. Tailored content that is of greater relevance to recipients is likely to encourage them to engage.

Image: Braze

2. Demographics

For many people, the first variable they segment their audience into is demographics. During the sign-up process, it’s usually quite easy to collect basic data about your subscribers, such as age, gender, and location.

Once you've collected this data, you can segment your list to target different age groups or genders or to run promotions in specific geo-locations. 

Let’s say you run a clothing store and want to target millennials. You can create two email sequences, one for men and one for women, and then tailor the language, images, and product offers as required.

3. Survey results

It’s important not to ask for too much information during the sign-up process as you may deter people from signing up at all. 

First, determine the most important information you need right away—most likely your subscriber's name and email address.

Once you’ve got them on your list, you can nurture the relationship and then find a little more out when people start to trust you.

A great way of discovering more about your audience is by using a survey. You can encourage subscribers to take it by offering an incentive or doing a raffle drawing of those who completed it. 

Not only will this give you insight to use in your segmentation efforts, but you will also build brand awareness by promoting your survey and prize raffle online.

Slack uses a survey email to gather more information about their users so they can improve the service.

Image: Really Good Emails

4. Email engagement

In email marketing, the metrics most companies care about are open rate and click-through rate. We can also use these to segment your list, which helps you improve engagement.

You might have a few people that haven’t opened your emails in a few months. Continuing to send these people the same tired emails is a waste of time and money.

Instead, focus on people who are actively engaged in your emails and your brand. By using segmentation, you can tailor a sequence to encourage active users to buy more, and another sequence to try and rescue fading relationships. 

Offering special discounts is one way of leveraging this technique to maximum effect.

Pinterest uses targeted emails like this to encourage people to engage with their platform.

Image: Really Good Emails

5. Geographic location

If you’re operating internationally, segmenting by geographical location is a technique you should get familiar with. By personalizing emails for your customers depending on where they are, you can engage a lot more people.

Imagine you have customers in Canada and Colombia. In December, the climates in these two countries couldn’t be more different. By tailoring the language and offers, you can boost open rates and clicks, as more people will be interested in content that is relevant to their situation.

There are plenty of ways you can use geographic data, such as:

  • Time-based messaging: Schedule emails to send at the optimum time for your recipients depending on their time zone.
  • Advertising regional promotions: end emails about events in specific store locations.
  • Live webinars: Adjust the event timing based on your audience’s location.
  • Location-specific content: Draw attention to your email by using locations in the subject line, making it a more personalized experience.

Fred Perry used geo-targeting here to promote a pop-up event in New York:

Image: Campaign Monitor

6. Purchase history

When you make a sale, that’s not the end of the relationship with your customer—rather, it’s just the beginning. Every purchase they make is more data for you to learn from, as you can gather more information about their needs and interests.

This makes it easier to refine your email recommendations so that your content and offers are aligned with their buying habits. By analyzing past purchases, we can segment our lists to target customers with emails that cater to their potential needs. 

Let’s say you buy a new can of hairspray every two months. It’s always the same brand and the same size, and you buy it from the same online store. 

If that store has your email address, they can use personalization and segmentation to great effect by sending you an email just before your hairspray runs out the next time. With a special discount and a quick link to the check-out page, they’ll make it very easy for you to buy again.

This email from Dollar Shave Club uses a customer’s purchase history to offer related products. This is a great way to use segmentation to upsell.

Image: Really Good Emails

7. Position in the sales funnel

Not all customers are the same. In fact, just 4% of people are ready to buy the first time they visit your website.

This comes down to where they are in the buyer’s journey. By aligning your sales funnel to this journey, you can tailor your email marketing to engage people at every stage.

For example, somebody at the top of the funnel will be receptive of general content that gives them a good overview of your brand and products. 

After they have shown some interest in your website and emails, you’ll discover a little more about their interests. This makes it easier to send them more targeted emails as they move through the funnel.

When they are further along, you can send them information about specific products or services that may be the solution they are looking for.

It’s crucial to keep in mind that your funnel must be optimized to the very end. Just because people are nearing the end of the buyer’s journey doesn’t mean you can forget about end of your funnel.

To emphasize this point, consider that one of the biggest reasons for abandoned carts is that people are receiving irrelevant content. Somewhere in the funnel, the journey gets too complex or complicated, and people drop off before completing their purchase.

With effective email marketing segmentation, you can follow-up these people with an email to remind them about their abandoned items. This can rescue sales from the brink of collapse.

Adidas use a little humor in their abandoned cart email. This little reminder may be all that is needed to get people to return to your website to make a purchase.

Image: Really Good Emails

Wrap up

Email marketing segmentation is more than just a buzzword term bandied around by marketers. It is a bonafide strategy that all but guarantees success.

Done right, you can segment your audience into small groups, then target them with content that is crafted with their pain points and interests in mind. 

This will result in more engagement, more clicks, and ultimately, more conversions.

About the Author

Lane Harbin

Lane Harbin is a senior content marketing manager at Emma. When she’s not geeking out over email marketing, she enjoys binge-listening to podcasts, catching up on the latest tech news, and constantly rearranging her living room.

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