Email List Segmentation for Beginners

You know you're doing something right when people tell you that your content really spoke to them on an emotional level. Unfortunately, it's not easy to get this kind of response from everyone with an email marketing campaign. Email is a personal medium, but you're trying to communicate to a large audience of disparate individuals.

It's even harder to connect when you're using an auto-responder to communicate with your list, since it's a “set it and forget it” kind of tool – but it's not like you have the time to write a personalized message to every one of your subscribers, either. There's an easier solution. Segment your email list into groups and tailor your message to each of these groups.

What Is Email List Segmentation?

The idea of email segmentation is to break down your subscriber list into groups based on interests or demographics. This makes it easier to send them emails which they're more likely to be interested in. You can separate your subscriber list at least into two basic groups, active customer and inactive customers.

For instance, you may define an inactive customers as someone who did not use your service in the last 12 months and did not interact with your company. Active customers will usually receive Thank-you and follow-up emails. When it comes to inactive customers the message should rather be a phrased as a reminder. In addition, to message content, the email frequency also differs a lot from one customer's type to the other.

The key to making this all work is to keep it as simple as possible. Yes, you could break down your list into almost any number of different segments based on the different types of customer engagement, but at least at first, keep it to a few manageable pieces.

Segmenting Your Email List

Almost every email provider allows you create segments from an existing list without having to know any additional information. You may want to create segments by location if your business has a local focus. However, it is segmentation based on interests that can really yield results.

You already have a specific target market, but chances are that there are sub-interests within this niche which you can market to. You probably already know what these interests are, especially if you've been doing any kind of market research. If not, it's time to delve into your analytics to find out.

Segmenting Using Email and Opt-In Forms

What's even better is getting your subscribers to sort themselves into segments. This can be done using email links (although not everyone opens your emails or clicks the links, of course). Speaking of email, it's common to create segments based on engagement such as email openers, email link clickers or inactive customers. You can then create different approaches to reach these segments.

Better yet, you can use opt-in forms on your website. This is generally far more effective than any links you could send, since people are choosing a course of action for themselves. This also shortens the process of getting relevant content to the right subscribers.

There are many other potential segments here, but the goal is to keep things simple for now. For each of these segments, you can create an autoresponder sequence which culminates in a promotion targeted to this group. This may be your own product or something that you're marketing for publisher commissions; either way, make sure that the product or service in question is something that the people who make up this segment are likely to be interested in.

See how this works? Email list segmentation can be a very effective marketing tool – but it can also easily get out of hand if you start segmenting your audience too quickly.