Email marketing is a mainstay of the marketer’s toolbox, and for good reason – it works.
You can make it work better by segmenting your contact list. A more targeted message will get better results every time.
In this article, we’ll go over different email segmentation strategies you can use to amplify your campaign impact.
Email Marketing Segmentation Strategies to Get the Most Out of Your List
Segmentation is, in a nutshell, chopping your email contact list into smaller groups based on particular criteria. The idea is that since the members of your segments share the characteristics you grouped them by, you can create messaging that’s much more specific to them.
That, of course, results in better open and click rates.
The trick is that getting people to volunteer information can feel like pulling teeth. The more you’re asking for in your sign-up forms, the more people you’ll scare off. It’s a balancing act of deciding what you need for your strategy, and what you can do without.
This is the most common way marketers segment their lists: using demographic information. Targeting people based on age, gender, job position, and other similar data can give you a lot of valuable options.
Your strategy and requirements will depend heavily on your business itself. A clothing retailer will find it valuable to segment their lists by gender, for example, whereas a B2B SaaS company might not need that information at all.
The best way to decide what information you need is to consider what sort of campaigns you’re planning on running. If your product is a marketing software solution and your target audience is marketing managers, for example, would your messaging really differ at all based on recipient gender?
You’d be better served by asking people to pick an industry from a dropdown, for example. If you can take your list of marketing managers and group them into different industries, you can talk about industry-specific ways they could use your product.
Another great way to segment email contacts is by how engaged they are. It’s simple and can yield great results.
Break your contacts into groups based on how they’re interacting with your email sends. Contacts who are opening and clicking your emails regularly are very active. Contacts who are opening, but not clicking, are active. Contacts who haven’t opened an email in, say, three months, can be classified as inactive.
Now you can create separate strategies to use for these groups. Your “very active” contacts are probably ready to keep progressing down the funnel, so try sending them more lower-funnel messages.
Meanwhile, “active” contacts might need to be targeted with different messaging. They’re opening your emails, so they’re interested enough to see what you’re sending, but the actual content isn’t resonating enough to get them to click. Experiment with different offers and calls to action.
Your “inactive” subscribers are ripe for a re-engagement campaign. Create sends specifically designed to bring them back to active status, and if those campaigns still don’t work, consider removing them from your list.
If the idea of asking for a bunch of information on your sign-up form disagrees with you, you’re not alone. Many marketers prefer a minimalistic approach – just asking for an email address.
This means you’re not scaring people away with longer forms, but it also makes segmenting difficult. You can’t segment around information you don’t have.
If you’re reluctant to ask for more data on your forms – understandably – then you can try asking for it after the fact.
Of course, people generally aren’t just going to fill out a survey for fun, particularly in the B2B world. If you want to get decent results, create some sort of incentive for people to fill it out. “Tell us your industry and job title for a chance to win this prize”, for example.
In cases where only people in a particular area need to receive your message, segmenting by location is key. If you’re hosting an event, for example, you probably don’t want to target people who aren’t anywhere near the venue.
You can use it for more than just location-specific content like that. Let’s say you’re planning on hosting a live webinar. You can adjust your targeting based on the time difference between you and your audience.
Another way to take advantage of geographical information is to stagger your email sends to an optimal time across time zones.
If you’ve found that you get best engagement rates at 11am, for example, breaking your contact list into groups by time zone means you can schedule your sends so that everyone gets your email at 11am, local time.
This is another standard segmentation technique, and it’s logical. People at the top of the funnel need different messaging than people at the bottom.
Setting up nurturing campaigns to coax people along the funnel is a fundamental part of email marketing.
At the top, your content should be informative, educating the lead and establishing your brand as an authority. This continues as they move down the funnel, as you begin mixing in more persuasive content around your offerings in particular.
Eventually, you’ll begin including more bottom-of-funnel calls to action like signing up for a free trial of your software.
Another valuable source of information is your website. You don’t need to have extra fields on your sign-up form to gather this data, either.
You can glean a lot from what pages a contact viewed, where they clicked, how they scrolled and more, and can use that data to target people more effectively.
If someone visits a product page, reads through it, and then checks the pricing page and clicks away, you can infer that your product was interesting to them, but the price point didn’t match their budget, for example.
They might be worth targeting with a campaign containing a special offer on that product.
Segmenting Cold Contacts
If you’re using a purchased list for email lead generation, the game changes a little. You’ll only have a certain set of information about your contacts, and can’t take advantage of preexisting data like engagement statistics.
You could, of course, send them a survey. But since those contacts are totally cold, that might not be the best way to open up a conversation.
Instead, you need to work with what you have. If you purchased your list from a reputable data provider, you’ll have enough to get started by segmenting around industry or job role.
Use this to start a conversation, put yourself on their radar, and then hit them with the promotional survey or quiz to flesh out what you know about them.