Ultimate Guide For Email List Segmentation

One of the leading marketing strategies that can improve your open rates, click-through rates, and sales conversion is segmentation. 

Not just that, it plays an integral role in the personalization of your marketing efforts including design, copy, and strategies. 

Segmentation, which is gradually moving towards micro-segmentation, a more advanced form, is not just a trend but the future of email marketing. 

It also increases the impact of automation in your email marketing campaigns boosting the open rates. 

Hence, it also dramatically helps in building a sender’s reputation by reducing bounce rates and improving email deliverability. 

But for new marketers or small businesses, it can be a bit daunting to understand and implement it. 

Well, not anymore, here is an ultimate guide to understanding the email list segmentation on a conceptual level as well as practical implementation level. 

What is Email Segmentation? 

Email segmentation is an email marketing practice and a targeting technique that help you categorize your subscribers list into much more targeted smaller audience groups based upon a set of characteristics or factors you select. 

It allows you to personalize your email marketing campaign to focus on your marketing message and efforts towards specific people leading to higher engagement, hence higher conversion. 

Segmented lists are able to garner more attention and engagement rates because it is extremely relevant and detailed for the target audience, and hence more effective. 

There are email marketing tools or platforms that allow you to segment your list easily on the basis of several criteria such as location, age, customer behavior, etc. 

The criteria you choose will depend on what is the most prevalent and relevant factor for your business to find prospects. 

These criteria you prioritize will be basically something that is commonly found in your buyer’s persona and so, it makes your subscriber an ideal potential buyer. 

Difference Between Email Segments And Group

Even though, email segmentation is loosely about parting the email contact list into different smaller groups but yet it is completely different from a ‘group’. 

Here’s how things are different with these two in contrast so you won’t confuse them with each other 

Segment 

Email lists parted into different categories may loosely sometimes be referred to as groups but technically it is segmented. 

It is a list of your subscribers that is categorized on an extremely specific common ground or criteria. 

Segments can be created by using a single filter as well. Any subscribers added or removed from this segment will be based on that particular criterion, one criterion or rule. 

For example, a segment can be a list of all your ‘subscribers who joined you in the last 15 days and this list will be exclusive to those who fit the profile. 

That means, anyone or everyone after their 15th day will be out of this segment automatically, similarly, any new subscriber will be automatically added to this segment until their 15th day of subscription. 

Group 

Group is first of all not the email segment. It is not dictated by one particular rule or criteria. If you have an email group, you can just add subscribers on the basis of your own preference.

It is just a custom list of your subscribers you have created to help you categorize but it doesn’t work on automation. 

You have to personally add or remove to this list. It doesn’t automatically add or remove subscribers because it doesn’t have a function to work on. 

Best Email Segmentation Strategies For Your Email Marketing Campaign 

best email segmentation strategies 

Segment Your List By Using Sign-up Channel 

This is a segmentation technique or strategy based on behavior. This works great when you have multiple topics to cover on your website or blog. 

Since you have different types of people with their preference of interest in topics, with segmentation, you can create different groups or segments based on what type of blogs they usually read. 

This means you won’t be sending the same Blogspot links to all of your subscribers. Rather you will be sending the content which they prefer to read. 

So some of your subscribers will be getting blogs about marketing whereas others will only receive about business finance. 

The most effective way to achieve this is by segmenting your list according to the different sign-up channels. 

It is obvious that when a user sign-up through your blog page or one of the sign-up forms planted on the blog, they will be interested in receiving content from your company. 

On the other hand, the users who sign-up through your e-commerce web page or product page, might want to know more about your products and receive updates about them. 

And actually, there can be different sign-up channels focusing on a certain aspect of your website focusing on the fact of what kind of content your visitors have signed up for. 

Segmentation Your List By Geography 

Geographical segmentation is not on the basis of customer or subscriber behavior but on where they live. 

It can help businesses to target their subscribers on the basis of the region they live in, hence they can offer their suggestions accordingly. 

You also need to understand this, you also get access to know other factors of your subscriber’s condition such as climate, weather, local customs, language, events, and so much more. 

It helps you create personalized email where you can find a common ground related to the city they live in, some event or festival that’s going on, or the weather. 

This also helps you create location-specific content or the marketing approach as well. 

For example, if you are a clothing or lifestyle brand, you can segment your list based on the locations your customers or subscribers live in. 

Now knowing their location, you will be able to offer them specific recommendations depending upon the climate or the fashion trends. 

Like some of your subscribers will receive winter clothes offer whereas some of them will get summer wear product recommendations. 

Even the customs, traditions, and culture of the place will help you send more relevant product offers that are valid to their location specifically. 

Also, you can send out clothing products that exclusively work for a particular event or festival going on such as Halloween. 

Segmenting Your List By Different Blog Topics or Content Preference  

You need to create multiple sign-up forms integrated into all of your blog posts but respective to their content category. 

So, for example, if a user has signed up for your blogs to receive in their inbox through a particular blog content or category, they might be most interested in those. 

This will help you send the most helpful and relevant content to the particular subscriber. It can be detrimental to grab their attention and engage with them at the initial stage. 

Gradually they definitely will be reading a lot more on your blog, maybe exploring different contents as well. 

Now, you have to create custom sign-up forms which must have specific messaging offering more content similar to what the reader is reading. 

So if a visitor is reading a blog about “how to start an online business”, you can offer a sign-up form primarily focused on helping them start an online business. 

The lead magnet you use also needs to be highly relevant and specific in this case. So taking this example again, here you will offer an ebook, guide, or blueprint of starting a profitable business. 

In this way, you have a higher chance of getting the lead conversion. After a time, you will have different segments based on their preferences in the content. 

Segmenting Your List By Preference 

You can also segment your subscribers on the basis of their set preferences. Now, for this, you need to ask their preferences while signing up. 

When they check the boxes for specific preferences, they will be automatically added to particular segmented lists.

This segmented list will receive emails on the basis of the interests and preferences they chose at the time of signing up. 

For example, if you run a blog about earning money online where you offer content on different topics such as earning money from blogging, or from dropshipping or other mediums. 

While signing up you can ask the potential subscriber which kind of emails they prefer to receive.  

They might be more interested in earning money through dropshipping, so you only send emails regarding that particular topic, and not across others on your blog. 

Segment Your List By Customer Journey 

This is one of the highly effective email segmentation strategies that will help your business to gain maximum conversion. 

You have to understand that your subscribers are at different stages or points of their buyer’s journey. 

Some of them might just come to know about you whereas some of them are considering buying your product. 

Then, some of them might have given up the idea to purchase from you for some reason. 

You don’t convert any prospect through the first point of contact, it is a journey that the prospect goes on to move towards being a customer. 

Subscribers who are at different stages of their customer journey or buyer’s journey require different approaches, strategies, and marketing efforts to move them further down the line. 

The way you approach your new subscribers isn’t how you approach your loyal customers where both of these are going to be in your subscribers’ list.

Segmentation Based On Your Sales Funnel 

Hence, segmentation is essential to be done on the basis of your sales funnel. 

For example, if a visitor landed on your blog, read it, and went to your product page, then they even added it to their cart but didn’t complete the purchase. 

You have their email address but you shouldn’t approach these contacts as you approach a new subscriber or existing customer. 

You need to create a different campaign but it only works if you segment them creating a unique list of the subscribers who abandoned the cart. 

They will receive a unique marketing email, maybe an exclusive offer, and other benefits to complete their purchase. 

It is essential to segment your list on the basis of where they currently stand in their buyer’s journey and approach them accordingly. 

With this kind of segmentation, you will be able to personalize your emails and make it more specific to your subscribers’ needs. 

Segmenting Your List By Their Social Media Activity 

Segmenting your email list depends upon how active your subscriber is active on their social media accounts. 

Every brand wants to connect with its prospects across social media platforms and build a stronger relationship. 

When you are able to create a segment for the subscribers who are more active on their social media platforms, you can use it to send specific marketing messages. 

One of the examples can be if you are a cosmetic retailer, and with this segment you know there are subscribers highly active on their social media accounts, you can send them offers to promote your product. 

You can send your product to them where they will review it and share their positive views about it or promote it on Instagram and Facebook. 

Segmenting Your List By Prior Purchases 

Another segmentation strategy essential for every marketer to conduct is using the criteria of past purchases. 

You have to see what kind of buying history or prior purchases your prospective buyer or the subscriber has. 

This will give you a good headstart to customize your email content for better conversion. 

You would be surprised to know that these kinds of marketing emails that are based upon the prior history of the subscriber or their interest are 35% of their business. 

When you have a track record of the prior purchase of your prospect, you will be clear on many aspects : 

  • What kind of products are they looking for? 
  • What is their usual budget range? 
  • What they recently bought? 
  • What personalized recommendation can you send on the basis of their prior purchase? 
  • What are their purchasing behaviour and habits? 

For example, if you know that your subscriber has recently bought a smartphone, then you can offer them a list of accessories like headphones or a smartphone cover. 

Or if they bought a DSLR camera, you can recommend buying products like a prime lens, camera bag, camera cover, etc. 

This email segmentation strategy can increase the chances of your sales conversion dramatically. 

Segmenting Your List By Subscriber Engagement 

Another powerful segmentation strategy has to be on the basis of their engagement levels. 

There are some subscribers who will be engaging with your emails which can be measured through open rates, click-through rates, and conversion as well. 

Then, there will be some subscribers who see your email but are not opening it. Either they open it very few times but do not click on the links or they do not open it at all. 

Some subscribers will be the ones who click through your website link or product links but never buy anything. 

You have to separate the subscribers depending upon how much or how often you engage with your emails. 

This will help you to approach differently towards the subscribers who are highly engaging with you as compared to others who do not. 

With these different segments, you can come up with a unique approach specifically to a particular type of subscriber on their engagement levels. 

You might have to offer an attractive incentive or more push to re-engage with subscribers who hardly open your emails. Maybe, here you need to focus more on your subject lines. 

Subscribers who are highly engaging might be a focused approach to convert them. You can send them more personalized content and offers. 

Email marketing tools allow you to create different segments based on the engagement level of your subscribers. 

Not just that, there is plenty of automation as well to increase engagement. 

For example, some tools offer built-in settings in segmentation where a specific type of email can be sent to subscribers who haven’t opened their emails in days. 

In fact, it can auto-segment creating lists depending upon how long they haven’t opened or clicked through your emails. 

Segmenting Your List By Job Role 

Now, this is very particular for sales organizations or B2B branding and relations where your aim is to reach out to the right person in charge of the decision-making in a particular company. 

You can segment your list depending upon what job role they have in their respective organization. 

This means some particular emails will be sent to management people of multiple companies whereas some of them will be exclusively sent to the sales division. 

Segmenting Your List By Survey 

In the end, what really matters for a business is the customer satisfaction and user experience of their retaining customers. 

That’s what aids the growing business, and the best way to monitor whether your subscribers or customers are happy with your product or not is through email surveys. 

It also helps you understand underlying problems in your product or services that require improvement. 

Here, you use survey blocks to get answers from the costumes as to what their views are on particular products, your efforts, services, customer assistance, and other factors. 

You need to ask critical questions that can help you get into the minds of your customers or subscribers. 

When you get the results from them, depending upon their responses, you can create segments of the list to send appropriate custom emails to them. 

Example 

For example, many brands send out their yearly Net Promoter Score (NPS) to their subscribers to see how they are doing so far. 

It is a rating system where people give their specific rating such as 5 out of 10 or 7 out of 10, and through it, automated segment lists are created on the basis of their ratings given. 

And then they craft specific messages to send out to particular ratings given by customers. 

This means, all the customers who rated between 1 to 3 will be sent a particular email whereas customers who rated between 7 to 10 will be sent a different email. 

They will be categorized as happy customers or sad customers depending upon these segmentations and sent a follow-up email accordingly. 

Segment Your List By Reviews 

One of the ways to segment your list is through reviews you receive from your subscribers or customers. 

You can always segment your subscribers on the basis of their responses or the fact whether they leave their review or not. 

Using this kind of segmentation, you will be able to find your loyal customers who are not just buying your products but also leaving a review. 

Then, for the other ones who are not leaving any review for your products, you need to send them custom emails encouraging them to share their buying experience. 

It can help you get more reviews from your customer base and help you build your brand through review marketing. 

One example of using this kind of segmentation is sending ‘thank you emails to all those customers who left reviews and a reminder to leave reviews to those who haven’t yet. 

Segmenting By Combining Different Segments 

It is one of the highly personalized methods of segmentation, a clever targeting strategy to focus on specific types of customers or subscribers meeting particular criteria. 

Here, the segments will be more likely created by combining different existing segments. For example,   suppose you have these segments already : 

  • Customers who bought earlier from you 
  • Existing customers who regularly open your emails or high engagement 
  • Customers who have spent more than $500 

You can combine all of these segments to create a new segment to target a very specific type of customer or subscribers. 

For example, you may be creating this segment because you want to ask for reviews or testimonials from your top customers over the years. 

To send a custom email asking for reviews or video testimonials where you can offer them your gratitude or some exclusive gift or heavy discount in the exchange, this segment will be perfect.

Similarly, you can create different segments by combining existing segments or creating multiple ones only to put them together to send out emails under a specific condition or situation. 

Segmenting Your List By Device Usage 

One of the most effective ways to optimize your emails to provide the best experience to users whether they are on mobile or desktop is segmentation. 

You need to optimize your emails, their design, and the way you write copy depending upon what device a user is reading it on. 

So you can segment it on the basis of device usage, such as desktop vs mobile. It will help you create a custom experience for each device variant.

Segment Your List By Lead Magnets 

It is always better to have multiple lead magnets to be offered interchangeably on different sign-up forms placed at different spots. 

So you can create segments on the basis of subscribers who signed up through a particular lead magnet. 

Creating these segments will give access to their preferences and interests presenting an opportunity to follow up through the emails and nurturing them better. 

Depending upon what lead magnet subscriber is signed up through, you can categorize them to send more specific emails. 

For example, if you have a blog about hobbies, and someone signed up for a lead magnet as an ebook on beekeeping, then you can send them more content and products regarding it. 

Factors On The Basis Of You Segment Your Email List 

If you are completely new to segmentation, it can confuse you with all the possible permutations and combinations of the segmentation process. 

But the relief for new marketers and business owners is that the differentiating areas on the basis of segmentation are still basic and foundational to learn.

Once you cover your grounds on these primary differentiating areas with their respective factors used for segmentation, then the rest of it is all about using them in different combinations and bringing other sub-factors. 

Here’s are those primary differentiating areas used to segment your email list : 

  • Demographics 
  • Customer information 
  • Email Types 
  • Engagement 
  • Activity 

All these segmentation areas are further broken into multiple factors that can be used to create list segments. 

These can be used to go in with more personalized and specific marketing efforts towards highly targeted subscribers with custom content. 

It is only going to help you target your customer better and maximize subscriber engagement, email deliverability, and conversions. 

Let’s dive into each of these areas and factors.

Demographics 

Location 

Where your subscriber or potential buyer is living is an essential factor in segmentation that is popularly used by brands today. 

It is important to know where your recipients live, what climate they are currently in, what kind of culture they’re part of, their economics, festivals, and traditions. 

When you know their location, you can use this factor on the basis of which you will segment your contact list to send highly relevant and customized content based on where they live. 

Knowing their specific location will make your content more relatable and personalized, to begin with, and then you can offer content, products, and services that are suited to their location. 

For example, you wouldn’t want to send thanksgiving to a Canadian recipient and an American recipient at the same time. 

Or like you wouldn’t want to send a summer collection to your subscriber in a country where the current climate is in winters. 

Time 

When do your recipients are opening your emails most of the time?  At what time, you can get the maximum engagement through your emails? 

All these questions will help you customize your email marketing campaign to aim for better scheduling. 

You need to track and try A/B testing with different time zones and different types of emails to see how much traction you get. 

So, you can also segment your list on the basis of time. 

For example, you cannot send emails to everyone at the same time because different subscribers will be at their respective time zones, and for a lot of them, it can be inappropriate or less effective. 

Like you wouldn’t want to send an important email to a subscriber at midnight, it should be at times when they engage it with most, preferable at the mornings between 9 to 12, and for some, it can be at late noon 3 to 4. 

Gender 

Not all products and services are for both genders, man and woman. 

Also, you need to understand the way men and women interpret things or communicate is different from each other. 

It depends upon the product or services you are selling where you need to be more relatable to hit their pain points and provide solutions only on the basis of their gender. 

Some problems are exclusive to men and some are to women. They also have different sets of preferences, so in order to personalize your content to be better suitable, you need to segment it differently for men and women. 

Not just that, there are other genders and sexual orientations such as gay, straight or third gender, trans men or trans women. 

Segmenting using gender helps to make content more impactful and detailed. 

Apart from that, you can segment your list according to gender for A/B testing to see where you get better results with your product or content. 

Age 

The age of your recipients plays an integral role in how they are going to perceive your content. It also becomes an essential factor respective to what product you’re offering. 

Some products can be more suitable for a particular age group rather than targeting all. 

For example, if you run a dating website platform for middle age and above people, then your target audience will be between 35 to 55 or something. 

When you segment your list according to the age of your recipient, you will be able to send more targeted and personalized emails. 

Even how you communicate with them and with what relatable stories and reasons you connect with the changes as per the age of your recipients. 

For example, if you want to aim for millennials, you would be targeting a particular set of age groups which will help you send them customized content and offers. 

Occupation/ Industry 

Occupation and industry are also integral areas of differentiation basis on which you can segment your email list. 

You might be offering a product that is more suitable to a certain profession, occupation, or industry. 

Or you can customize your content uniquely for different industries, making your content more personalized and effective. 

It gives your message more relevant and higher chances of conversion as well. 

Activity 

Last Purchases 

This is a bit more advanced segmentation level where you get access to the previous purchasing records of your contact list. 

Depending upon the last purchase of the subscribers or buyers in your list, you segment them into a new group. 

For these subscribers, you would want to take a different marketing approach as compared to other subscribers. 

You will have to gain access to what kind of products your subscribers look for and their last purchases, on the basis of that, you need to target them and create more personalized marketing efforts. 

Hence, it becomes an ideal factor on the basis of which you perform list segmentation. 

Recent Activities 

What kind of products your subscribers are looking for online?  What recent activities they have done which you can use to leverage your sales offer.? 

There is always a way to personalize your marketing offers and content according to their recent web activities. 

Types of Emails 

Open Rates 

To use open rates as a differentiating factor to segment your email, all you have to do is get into the analytics of your email marketing campaign. 

There you will see which subscribers are the most active and engaging and which ones are giving you the best open rates. 

Now, you can create a segment from your subscriber list comprising all these highly engaged recipients. 

Apart from the obvious benefit that there are higher chances of conversion and will be consistent to boost your engagement and improve your campaign performance, there is more to it. 

Through this segment, you can always check the effectiveness of your content. This can help you understand what kind of content works for your campaign. 

Since they are already inclined to open, you will be able to analyze particularly the effectiveness of content, removing other factors such as open rates from the equation. 

Also, it will help you to maintain a good sending reputation and improve your IP reputation eventually as well. 

Interest Level 

Interest level is about how much a subscriber is interested in your emails and content. This can be proven by whether and how much they engage with your emails. 

To begin with, which subscribers are opening most of your emails all the time, then how many of them are clicking on your CTAs. 

This segment of your list allows you to understand which of the subscribers are intrigued by the subject line, inclined to open your email, and even liked the content and clicked on it. 

You can analyze the reasons why it worked and also the reasons why they didn’t go through the purchase. 

Apart from this, you will be able to send personalized emails to all of these subscribers offering your product with compelling offers. 

Or you can always begin with survey feedback to know what went wrong as they didn’t go through the purchase. 

Inactive Subscribers 

There always are subscribers who will be inactive and least participating. You hardly see them interact with your content or open your email. 

Some of them could be who used to open your emails and interact with them but now they stopped and won’t even open your emails for a long time. 

Before they prove to be not interested and non-returning to their previous interest level in your brand, you have to try for the last time. 

So, here you need to segment them out to an exclusive segment list focusing on re-engagement and win-back campaigns. 

These emails are specifically designed from content to subject lines to make inactive subscribers click on them and re-engage. 

Chances are you will get some of them back but for the rest of them, it is better to remove them from your email list to make it more hygenic and effective. 

Type Of Customer 

First-time Buyer or New User 

One of the differentiating factors for segmenting your list can be based on the fact whether you have a new user or a first-time buyer in your corner. 

For first-time buyers or new users, you can focus more prominently on building relationships and offering value, rather than pushing too much on products. 

If you segment on the list on the basis of first-time buyers or new users, you can personalize your marketing message more efficiently. 

More importantly, you need to send them a welcome email and a series of initial emails to help them get started. 

All this only could be possible if you separate your new users from the existing subscribers who might be now quite familiar with you, your content, and even your products. 

Frequent Buyers Or Regular User 

Another segmentation criteria on the basis of what type of user or customer you’re dealing with can be whether they are frequent and regular or not. 

Segmenting your list to filter out all those users who are regular or the buyers who frequently buy from you, will help you to interact with them differently. 

Your marketing approach towards them as compared to someone yet needing to be nurtured is going to be very different. 

In fact, putting all the types of customers or users in one list and sending them the same emails will be not effective at all. 

Free Trial User 

You can also segment your list creating another group exclusively for those who have signed up for the free trial period of your tool, platform, or paid subscription. 

The aim here has to be converting them to paid customers, so putting them into the mix of other paying customers, sending them the same marketing emails wouldn’t make sense. 

They require more focus and persuasion to buy your paid plan or product, so you have to nurture them gradually during their free trial. 

Segmenting them out will help you send them highly targeted and custom marketing emails to convert them. 

Non-Converting Users 

Now, there will be plenty of users who have tried your free trial but never converted into paying customers. 

So, these contacts will also be mixed with your primary subscriber’s list. It will be wise to segment them out to further target them for re-engagement. 

They are quite like cart-abandonment customers which you need to re-target to convert this time. 

Through a series of emails, you will be focusing on first knowing the reasons why they never went for a paid subscription and trying to resolve them the best way you can. 

You can do that by sending them a feedback survey which is only possible here through segmentation. 

Then, your focus will be to remind them of the features and benefits of your tool and try to get them to buy the product. 

Average Order Value 

You can also segment your list on the basis of the average order value of the customers. 

There are customers who have spent a significant amount of money buying your product as compared to others.

So it is obvious that you wouldn’t interact with or approach them in the way you do with a new subscriber or nurturing a lead.  

So, it makes up for a perfect differentiating factor on the basis of which you can segment your list to further personalize your emails for more and higher conversions. 

The best way to measure which customers have bought most from you is the average order value.  

Even with existing customers, you have to show them what more is there for them in their upgrade or next-level plan. 

If it is a product, you can be more confident and personalized with presenting your new products that are recently added or their upgrades. 

Here, your goal is to get repeat purchases, retain business from regular customers and try to upsell or cross-sell them as well.