Email segmentation is the secret ingredient to a successful email marketing campaign.
It’s also the reason why email is still the most effective channel to use to nurture and convert leads into customers.
As its name suggests, email segmentation divides people subscribed to your email list into small groups based on similar traits, demographics, or behaviors.
Segmenting your emails is vital before launching any email marketing campaign. It ensures you’re sending highly targeted and personalized content to your leads.
This, in turn, increases the possibility they’ll convert into customers. That’s why businesses using email marketing experience 38x ROI for every dollar they invest in it.
And yet, 89% of businesses—B2B and B2C alike—don’t do email segmentation.
This is just one of the many reasons why so many businesses’ email marketing campaigns fail.
If you’re one of them, don’t worry!
In this blog post, I’ll be sharing 20 different email segmentation strategies you can start using on your email list.
Why should you be doing email segmentation?
1. You’re serving different buyers.
Even if you’ve got a buyer’s persona guiding you when you write your email copy, not everyone in your email list is a perfect match.
I’ll use my business as an example.
As you know, I run a business providing content writing services to tech startup founders. That’s my buyer persona.
However, I’ve got people in my email list who aren’t tech startup founders. In my email list, I got marketers working for tech startups, small business owners, and even a handful of freelance content marketers and writers that subscribed.
That means if I want to keep these people opening and reading the content I share in my emails, I got to make sure that the content I sent caters to their specific wants and needs.
2. Your leads are in different stages of your marketing funnel.
Marketing funnels are very linear. But the way your leads go through it is anything but.
A study done by SiriusDecisions showed that a buyer could complete as much as 70% of the entire buyer’s journey before even reaching out to you.
You need to meet your leads where they’re at in your marketing funnel. Only then can you get them to progress further in the journey of becoming your customer.
3. You’ll see results improve over time.
When you’re sending those in your email list offers and content tailored to their interests, they’ll open your emails every time and click on your offers.
That’s why marketers using email segmentation can increase their email open rates up to 203% and their revenue by as much as 760%.
Why you’re not getting results with email segmentation?
Okay, so you took the time to segment your email list. But you’re still not seeing any positive changes.
If that’s what you’re struggling with right now, it could be that you’ve committed one of these three common email segmentation mistakes:
Mistake #1: You’re segmenting bought or rented lists.
Surprising, but true!
Marketers and business owners have been told time and again that buying email lists is a big no-no. But the fact that ads like this one still shows up means that there are still businesses buying lists.
Tempting, right? After all, building an email list from scratch can take some time.
And not very many business owners are patient enough to wait.
However, taking this shortcut has its consequences.
First, email providers like Google and Yahoo already have a long list of email addresses they suspect are included in lists sold online. So there’s a very good chance that your emails would go straight to their Spam or Junk folder.
Others on the list can also flag you as Spam. Email providers will pick these up. And if you get many people reporting your emails as spam, you can eventually be blacklisted.
So even if you do try to segment these lists, you still won’t get any results.
Mistake #2: Your email list needs some major spring cleaning.
When was the last time you checked your email list to find which emails are bouncing or not getting opened?
If your answer is “never,” that could be why email segmentation isn’t working for you.
Having a massive email list is impressive. But your conversion rate is the ratio between the number of those who take action (e.g., open your emails, click on your CTA) against your entire email list.
So if only a fraction of your subscribers are opening your emails, expect that your results will be dismal.
Mistake #3: Your email segmentation is too broad.
The key to email segmentation—and ultimately, email marketing—success is sending highly targeted emails to the right people at the right time.
If your subscribers feel your emails are too genericfeel your emails are too generic or worse, not what they’re specifically looking for, they won’t hesitate to click the delete button.
So, what’s the right way to segment your email list? Here are 30 different email segmentation strategies you can start using.
1. Geographic location.
Grouping the leads on your email list offers several benefits.
First, you can schedule your emails at a time they’re most likely awake. That way, your email doesn’t get buried under all the other emails they get.
The second involves the type of content you’re offering during the Consideration and Decision stages.
For example, if you’re launching an online course and you’re planning to host a webinar to promote it, you’ve got to make sure that the majority of those in your email list will get to watch it.
If you’re hosting local events like conferences and seminars, you can send targeted invites to those living in and around that area to increase the number of attendees.
This email sent out by Magneto is an excellent example.
Since the event they are hosting is in Thailand, this invite is sent out to their subscribers living in countries in Asia.
Even if they have to fly out to attend the conference, the trip won’t compromise their schedule as much as, say, someone living in the United States.
2. Skill level.
Some of your subscribers may be complete beginners, while others are professionals wanting to develop advanced skill sets.
Grouping your email list based on their skill level ensures you’re providing them with content that’ll help them improve their skills further without feeling overwhelmed.
3. Email engagement level.
Nearly all email lists have two types of subscribers: those who actively open your emails and those who don’t.
By segmenting your email list this way, you can identify your active subscribers. These are the ones that you’d want to send your latest offers to like this one from Jet.
For those subscribers that haven’t opened their emails within the last six months, a different type of email is in order.
Instead of sending them your latest offer, send them an email politely asking them if they would like to still hear from you.
If they say that they still want to hear from you, great! You can then follow-through by asking them what kind of content they’d like to get from you. That way, you can put them into the right segment and send them the content that piques their interests.
Now, if they choose to unsubscribe, that’s okay, too. They’re doing you a favor by helping you keep your email list healthy and your metrics more accurate.
4. Website activity.
This email segmentation strategy is similar to the previous one. Except here, you’re segmenting them on how frequent they’re visiting your website.
If some of your subscribers haven’t visited your site for some time, you can send them an email encouraging them to come back.
This email Webflow sends to those in their email list is both clever and convincing.
Notice how they incorporated the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) in their email by adding some social proof on how others using their services are benefitting. This is what makes the email compelling enough for your subscribers to pay your website a visit.
5. Opt-In Frequency.
How often your email subscribers download your content offers you an insight on their level of interest towards your product or service.
Subscribers that frequently download your content offers are those that you’d want to engage with and drive further down your marketing funnel.
This email from Salesforce is a great example. Each time you download one of their reports, you’ll get an email inviting you to hop on a call with them to learn more about their services.
6. Purchase history.
Paying close attention to what type of product or service customers in your email list purchased allows for upselling or cross-selling other products or services that’ll complement their purchase.
Zoom, for example, sends out to their paid subscribers that frequently hold group meetings the opportunity to upgrade their plan to include their meeting room feature.
Dollar Shave Club’s approaches this differently.
Here, they send a customer a confirmation email that their purchase is on the way, and when they should expect this to arrive.
At the same time, they take this opportunity to cross-sell other items they believe would interest their customers based on their purchase. This gives their customers the chance to buy these items without having to pay for additional shipping or wait for these to arrive a few days after their initial purchase.
7. Price of items purchased.
If you’re running a B2C business that sells physical products, this is a great email segmentation technique to use.
Studies show that repeat customers spend more each time they return to your store and make another purchase. By grouping your customers based on how much they spend, you’re not only able to accurately upsell more related products but also identify who are your top-tier customers. These are the ones that you’d want to treat extra special.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that your other customers count. However, when you consider that your top-tier clients spend 5x more than 90% of your customers, you’d want to make them feel that you appreciate their loyalty to your brand and your products.
8. Type of product they purchased.
If your eCommerce site offers several different items, this is an excellent way to make sure that the products and offers you send those in your email list are those they’d be most interested in buying.
This email from Fab is a good example.
9. Buyer satisfaction level.
This email segmentation technique not only helps you identify potential brand ambassadors in your email list that you can nurture but also get a better insight into your customers’ experience when they purchase on your website.
You can send out to a Net Promoter Score survey to those in your email list as well as those that just made a recent purchase.
The Net Promoter Score asks only one question: “On a scale of 1-10, how likely is it that you would recommend us to your friend or colleague.”
When you receive the results, you’d want to pay close attention to those who gave a score of either a 9 or 10.
These are your customers that you’d want to engage with even further and get them to become advocates of your brand.
If you want to take this a step further, you can also send a follow-up email to those that gave you a lesser score to ask them for their feedback and suggestions about the buying process.
Email statistics indicate that 35% of email recipients open emails based on subject lines alone, which means this is a great spot to apply Skill Level segmentation. Think about it–an email titled “The Beginners Guide to [Your Topic]” will appeal to some subscribers, while “5 Advanced [Your Topic] Tactics You Should Be Using” will appeal to others.
This helps you and your team identify and fix bottlenecks within your checkout process, giving your customers a better user experience.
10. Subscription renewals.
If your customers pay you a monthly or annual subscription fee to use your product or service, this email segmentation strategy is a must to make sure that your business keeps generating revenue.
Your customers are busy and often would lose track when their next payment is due. Sending them a friendly email reminding them when their subscription would be expiring (like this one from LinkedIn) would make sure that you won’t encounter problems when you charge their credit card.
This strategy also works if you’re selling a physical product that needs to be re-purchased regularly. This email from Rockin’ Wellness is one example.
11. Subscription cancellations.
Segmenting customers that recently canceled their subscription allows you to win them back.
Along with asking them why they chose to cancel their subscription, you can also send them a special offer should they change their minds.
Take note that not everyone that gets this offer will come back, and that’s okay. The feedback they give you as a parting gift will help you improve your services and experience for new and existing customers.
12. Desktop vs. Mobile
85% of people now check their emails on their smartphones.
That said, segmenting your email list based on the primary device they use to open and read your emails makes perfect sense because the way your emails appear on a desktop vs. a smartphone is very different.
By sending those opening your emails on their mobile phones set in a different layout from the one you send to those that read it on their desktop (like this example from Domino’s), increases your chances for them to click and convert.
13. Recent subscribers.
When someone subscribes to your email list, you’d want to make sure that they feel welcomed and valued.
Lululemon’s welcome email is a prime example.
As you can see, new subscribers are given everything to set their expectations from the company, like how frequent will they be sending an email and what types of emails they will receive.
Notice that they also include a link to their blog post in their welcome email. This allows them to continue capitalizing on their new subscriber’s interest level by feeding them with tips and other helpful information they share in their blog post.
Segmenting your email subscribers based on their interests allows you to send them curated content that they’ll want to check out.
Netflix, for example, sends its users a curated list of movies and series based on those they initially selected when they signed up for their account and those they recently watched.
15. Lead Magnet
The type of lead magnet your subscribers downloaded in exchange for giving you their email address gives tells you what topics and content format they’re most interested in receiving.
You can then segment your email list and send them other content offers related to what they initially downloaded.
This email from FlyWheel, for example, gives email subscribers who initially downloaded a lead magnet about WordPress.
Since WordPress is the most popular CMS platform used for building blogs and websites, they also included in the mix of their content offers guides giving tips on how to market their website design company and working with their clients.
16. Abandoned Shopping Cart.
This is another email segmentation strategy must-have, whether you’re running a B2B or B2C business.
There are several reasons why your potential customers didn’t proceed with their purchase. Perhaps they were doing the checkout process while commuting to work. But as soon as they arrived at the office, they completely forgot about it.
Maybe they did try to complete the purchase, but for some reason, their credit card payment wouldn’t go through.
Or maybe it could be as simple as their phone’s battery died (trust me, it can happen).
Whatever the reason is, sending them an email reminding them about the item they left in their shopping cart is an excellent way to get them to complete the purchase.
Here’s an example of an abandoned cart email from Adidas.
17. Customers’ Reviews.
There are two ways of doing this email segmentation strategy.
The first is to group those customers that haven’t yet left a review of your product or service. You can then send them an email like this one from TradeGecko to politely ask them for one.
The other is to group those that already left a review based on whether it was positive or negative. Customers that gave you a stellar rating are those you’d want to connect with and engage with them further to convert them into your brand advocates.
On the other hand, those that gave you a negative review, you can reach out to them so that you can make up for the negative experience they had.
18. Your buyer persona.
If you’re offering several types of products and services, your business likely has more than one buyer persona.
Each of these buyer personas your business is serving has its specific pain points and goals. By segmenting your email list based on these personas, you’ll be able to provide them with content and offers that targets explicitly their wants and needs.
19. Customer’s birthday.
Your customers want to feel that you appreciate and value them. In short, they want to feel they’re special.
Sending them targeted emails with a birthday treat allows you to connect with them at a more personal level, like this one from Globe Telecom in the Philippines.
20. Business industry
This is especially important if you’re running a B2B business.
Just like individual customers, businesses face challenges and are looking for growth opportunities within their specific industry.
By segmenting your email subscribers based on their industry, you can provide them with content specifically targeted to help them get ahead from their competitors.
This email from Smart Insights is a great example.
Email segmentation is the key to personalized content and higher conversion rates.
Your email list is comprised of people from different walks of life, each with a specific goal or challenge they want to address.
The different email segmentation strategies are only a few ways on how you can further personalize the content you send to your subscribers, increasing the chances of them converting.
The trick here is not to get too carried away with segmenting your emails. Start by choosing one of the 20 different strategies that I shared here and applying it to your email list. That way, you can evaluate the results accurately.
Great article. I found it extremely informative. Thank you.
Yash Kumar says
Blogs like this helps business grow
kavya kapoor says
Great article . Excellent content . very knowledgeable .
white soap dispenser says
I like the way you describe it. So perfect!
To run any email campaign successfully, email marketing segmentation is a must. I have been doing it for quite a long time and am getting good results. I got to know a very interesting point from your blog that you should track customers according to the activity on our website and then send them a mail.
Steven Johnson says
As an entrepreneur or a sales professional looking to stay on top of your sales game, you need to constantly stay aware of new tools