Email Segmentation – The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide

As an email marketer, you spend lots of hours and money trying to get your subscribers to read and react to your emails. However, for most marketers, that’s easier said than done.

Today, smart marketers are leveraging the power of email segmentation to enhance the success of their marketing campaigns.

If you are already sending out targeted email campaigns to specific segments of your subscriber list, kudos to you. You are on the right track.

However, if you aren’t, then you missing out on a lot.

What I have learned is that without proper segmentation, you won’t get the response rates you desire. You are likely to experience low open & click-through rates, high unsubscribe rates and worse, you’ve may be reported for spam.

And there’s more.

According to a recent study by MailChimp, segmented email campaigns have 14.31% higher open rates and 100.95% more clicks rates.

When you understand your audience, you’re able to connect with them and your messages are likely to compel them to follow through on your call-to-action.

Email is personal and it’s almost impossible to send a message that is universal to your entire audience.

Think about it.

Your customers have different needs and desires. In addition, they are all at different stages of the buyer’s journey.

Each and every single campaign you send out should be targeted. Failing to align your messages with your subscribers can cause your customers to opt out of receiving your messages.

So, how do you solve the dilemma and generate more engagements with each email campaign?


Email Segmentation Basics

Segmentation is all about knowing your audience. Basically, you’re putting your email subscribers into meaningful and useful segments enabling you to create and send messages that matter to each group.

The segments can be based on information like demographics, location and customer behaviour.

MailerLite makes it very easy to create segments based on any criteria (country, sign up date, language …)

MailerLite Segments

Understanding the specific attributes that differentiate each segment will allow you to effectively tailor your messages to each individual segment.

For instance, you can segment your email subscribers into buyers and non-buyers and then curate messages relevant to each group.

E-Mail Funnel Segmentation

For non-buyers, you can send informative content to build trust and authority and success stories to show proof and drive sales.

If a customer makes a purchase, you should then move them from the “non-buyers” segment and into the “buyers” segment.

To the customers in the “buyers” category, you can send

  • A thank you email
  • A follow-up email
  • A survey to elicit feedback
  • An upselling email for a secondary or related product

Sending different messages to different segments will help avoid sending irrelevant messages or pitching to customers a product that they have already purchased.

Needless to say all of these messages are written in advance and sent automatically via an autoresponder series.

MailerLite Workflow

How and when each email is delivered is up to you. The most common practice is to simply use a delay between each email sent.

You can also add additional steps to the workflow based on an email subscriber’s activity (email opened, link clicked, etc.).

Automation Workflow Steps

Segmenting Your Existing Email List

Most email service providers (ESPs) offer users a number of segmentation options. Thanks to pre-built segments, you can easily and quickly target members of your audience who share particular traits.

Basically, this means you can segment your entire list without necessarily having to collect any new data about your audience.

How so, you ask?

Already you have some information about your subscribers. Using this data you can target and filter contacts into meaningful groups. For instance, you can create segments based on the geographical location or the gender of your subscribers.

However, in some cases, you may have to seek additional subscriber details in order to develop and refine your email list segments. This will allow you to gain additional insights and section off smaller subsets and effectively target specific sub-niches, interests and preferences.

Here are some ways you can segment your email list and get the right message to the right audience.

Segment based on point of sign up

The point of sign up, to a great extent, influences the success milestones of subscribers. Subscribers who sign up on different dates will likely have their success milestones at different stages.

MailerLite Form Settings

In this case the segmentation is done by the subscribers themselves, by asking them which topics/products they are interested. This is a great way to segment from the get-go!

MailerLite Popup Form

Given that you’ll are likely to have multiple signup points, you should create a segment based on when a customer joined your email list. This will ensure that no particular segment of your audience is alienated.

Also, remember users opt into your list for a reason. As such, you should keep a record of the different calls-to-action that you employ.

For example, if a user signed up for a promotion, they should only receive messages related to their choice.

Segment based on engagement level and history

Regardless of the size of your email list, you will have some subscribers who are not engaged or have minimal levels of engagement.

Segmenting your list based on the level of disengagement will help you win back any subscribers who have gone dormant.

Again, very easy to create a segment like this.

MailerLite Segments

In the example below, I am segmenting based on open rate.

MailerLite Email Segment

Select ‘Stats‘ – ‘Open rate‘ – ‘is greater than‘ – then the desired percentage.

I can put in 50, if I want to segment every subscriber that has opened at least half of all emails received.

MailerLite Segment Open Rate

Keeping tabs on the engagement history will also allow you to note your subscriber’s past behaviour and send emails that are aligned with past actions.

If a customer may have opened your email and clicked a link, interacted with specific website content or participated in a promotion, you can tag them under a specific segment.

This will keep them engaged and may compel them to follow through on your calls to action in future emails.

Segment based on demographics

Demographic-based segments give you a great opportunity to get the right message to the right individual.

The most used demographic factors include location, gender, income and age. Segmenting your list based on location will allow you to tap into local affiliations and loyalties and build trust and enthusiasm.

Sending men and women different messages different can result in the most ideal conversions possible. Not only will they respond to different types of marketing copy but they may also be interested in different products and product sets.

Additionally, you should also consider the age of your subscribers. Are they millennials? Or are they baby boomers? Younger and older will respond to different language, imagery and culture references.

Identifying the different demographics and tailoring your email campaigns to cater to them can improve your sales conversion.

Segment based on interests

This is the highest impact segmentation strategy.

Simply put, subscribers won’t engage with emails that don’t interest them. Segmentation is more powerful when you group your list based on interests.

The question is . . . how you determine the interests of each person in your email list. It’s actually easier than you might think.

If you need help to figure out these subtopics, you can send surveys to your subscribers to further figure out what topics are of interest to them. Ask for their preferences and update the information in their profiles.

If you plan on using this method to segment, I recommend using GetResponse's built-in survey feature.

(You can do survey with any email service provider, but most don’t have surveys built-in, thus a third party tool would be required. In short, this would make things more complicated.)

GetResponse Survey

You can also segment your audience based on product purchase and put them in an email sequence that corresponds to that product. This means you should know and track who buys from you, what they buy and when they buy it.

Additionally, you determine your customers’ interests by tracking their browsing behaviour. Know and track who’s looking at your website, what pages interest them, and what actions they take.

This will allow you to get right into the content that matters to your audience.

Within each segment, you can automate an email sequence ensuring your target audience gets notifies about complimentary products. This will keep them engaged with your brand and give you an opportunity to nurture them down the sales funnel.

Why it is important

The difference between segmented and non-segmented email marketing campaigns is huge. Without segmentation, you’re writing emails for a specific type of customer and sending it to everyone, whether they fit the persona or not.

The moment I started sending targeted email campaigns, I immediately realized an increase in email marketing revenue. Engagement rates skyrocketed and I was even able to recapture lost leads.

With proper email segmentation practices, you can win back disengaged subscribers and drive sales. What’s more, segmentation makes it makes it easier to improve customer loyalty and lifetime value.