3 Ways to Segment Your Email Marketing Audience for Better Engagement

3 Ways to Segment Your Email Marketing Audience for Better Engagement

10th April 2015

Effective digital marketing requires standing out from the noise. The experts on Madison Avenue estimate that we’re exposed to an average of 5000 branded messages every day, and to an increasing degree, the metric that interests advertisers most when assessing a marketing channel is attention.

This is why today’s savvier digital marketers should be investing so much in personalization – the more we can tailor our messages to the specific needs of each individual we’re trying to reach. This is called clutter cutting – making sure that your messages will resonate

More than a third of companies do not implement any form of personalization in their marketing activities, according to econsultancy research, but if they do, it is often the email channel. Email, which remains one of the most effective marketing channels, is a perfect opportunity for customizing messages for prospective customers, email lends itself particularly well to segmentation and personalization.


I am currently working on an email software selection report that helps people looking for their ideal email marketing software solution. A big part of this actually is knowing what functionality you will want to use in the near future. You know, filtering the shortlist based on the requirements that you will actually use.

Sophisticated tracking tools that were once only available to enterprises with huge budgets are now available to businesses of every size, and integrated technologies now make it easy for marketers to formulate an email marketing strategy with elements that extend well beyond the traditional content-based newsletter.

Dear [FirstName] Is Not Enough Anymore

Remember when it was a novelty to send out emails that were personalized with a first name? And even more impressive when the recipient’s company name appeared in the body of the email message? Nobody is impressed about that anymore. Because your prospects have plenty choices available, it’s important provide them with exactly what they want and need and to make it clear that you’re talking to them.

Fortunately, there are already easy to implement and very affordable entry level tools available that include several autoresponders like the ones in the image below, tracking tools and integrated CRMs that make it easier to go beyond the bare minimum of personalizing.


These work in different ways, but the gist is: Anyone can tailor messages to appeal to specific sub-groups of our contact lists. If all of your emails are still “one-size-fits-all,” then you’re not getting the most out of it. By segmenting client profiles, you can more easily develop segment-specific content that promotes your products with maximized relevance.

  1. Segmenting by Website Activity

Who is visiting your site, how did they get there, and what are they looking for? How can you respond to their interests while you’re still on their minds?

Tracking technology is now available that goes beyond simple analytics to show you browsing patterns on a user-specific level. And instead of giving you heaps of data you don’t want or need, today’s more advanced reporting platforms allow you to crunch it all into actionable insights. Today it’s easy to see who your prospects are, what specific marketing message on which marketing channel first referred them to you, and where they currently are along the decision-making funnel. All you have to do is paste a snippet of javascript in your site admin dashboard, and you can see it all, while the visitor’s experience remains untainted. This is a powerful tactic, especially when it comes to segmenting your email messaging.

By correlating this data with a segmentation scheme that’s grounded in buyer personas and smart onsite event tracking, you can segment email audiences into dynamic lists.

For example, you can have one list for users who went on to subscribe to your podcast and have viewed at least three of your product pages, and you can have another for search-referred users that came in through specific orientation stage keywords. These segments contain different type, in a different stage of the purchase funnel and will have different message consumption preferences.

To connect with them in a way that’s most likely to resonate, you’re going to have to craft email content that matches these parameters. With each touch, you’re aiming to further build your relationship with audience members, who feel like you really “get” who they are.

  1. Segmenting by Subscriber Longevity

If you are not a big name brand, newer contacts are likely to be just getting to know your brand and possibly the space you’re operating in. They might not even trust you so much yet. On the other end of the spectrum, subscribers and clients who have been receiving, opening, buying and clicking on your marketing emails for over two years are likely familiar with your offerings and your brand’s take by now. And then there’s everyone in-between.

Each subscriber longevity segment has its own needs and pain points, and each should ideally be addressed in a completely different manner.

New subscribers should get a “welcome” message or a series of emails that introduces them to the world that is your brand. Multi-year subscribers who haven’t clicked on any of your emails for several months in a row, should get some kind of re-engagement autoresponder, so as to maximize your list hygiene and brand sentiment.

Who needs subscribers who aren’t interested? You can send a triggered email to these people prompting them to be more active by asking them questions or sending a targeted special offer. You want to keep your subscribers’ interest high, and if it drops off, find out why and adjust your processes accordingly.

  1. Segmenting by Customer Loyalty

Some audience members are just curious; they come and go without much engagement. However, others are nurtured to the point where they become rabidly loyal.

By integrating your ecommerce system with your CRM and email marketing tools, you can segment your audience according to how loyal they are to you and your products, enabling you to engage appropriately.

How are you rewarding your super-fans? These people should be privy to special loyalty gifts and offers. How about implementing a proper referral program with reward incentives?

You can even peg these types of messages to your audience members’ “relationship anniversary” with your brand – the date of their subscribing, following, opting in, first visiting your site, first making a purchase and any other relevant data. Imagine their response to such detailed attention from you!

Make Sure Your Emails Resonate and your tech facilitates

A big part of this actually is knowing what functionality you will want to use in the near future. You know, the requirements. Marketing is becoming less about interrupting people with ads, unrealistic promises or catchy jingles. Your job is to position your product as the perfect solution for your ideal customer. So think about that next time you are evaluating your technology stack, it’s not only nice to see what your buyer is thinking; it’s imperative.


Written By
Jordie van Rijn has more than 13 years of hands-on experience as an independent email marketing consultant. Next to helping companies improve their email marketing results he gives email marketing training and is a writer and speaker in the field of online marketing.
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