35 Ways to Segment Your Email List for More Personalized Email Campaigns

By Rhiza Oyos on October 09, 2017
Rhiza Oyos

Let’s cut to the chase. The reason why you’re failing at email marketing is because you’re neglecting these two very important things:

  • Personalisation
  • Segmentation

..which are, by the way, two different things that just can’t go without the other.

The fact is, we live in an era where personalisation is at great heights.

Everyday you see personalised search results; ads that are targeted to your personal preferences; blog content that answer your frequently asked questions; all sorts of recommended videos for you, your spouse, your kid, and your dog.

So it does seem a bit strange when every now and then we still receive a generic email that looks like it was carelessly sent to a hundred thousand other recipients, or an email newsletter that is not even personalized with our names. Yes?

(And yes, I still regularly get those “email blasts” from brands; ehem, I will not say which ones.)

It therefore leaves us feeling perplexed and wondering, why do companies still fail at using proper segmentation and personalisation in their email marketing strategies?

Let’s be clear that when we talk about personalisation, we don’t just mean knowing how to include the recipient’s name in your content body.

We’re talking about creating customized content for carefully segmented lists.

In a nutshell, it’s better to send small, segmented email campaigns than blasting generic emails to large, untargeted contacts.

And just to prove that you will never run out of ways to personalize your content, here are 35 list segmentation ideas you can apply in your email marketing strategy today.

But first, there are two types of data you can use to segment your list:

  • Explicit data. These are information that are intentionally shared between a contact and a company. Think of that information that a user fills out on a landing page or a Contact Us form. Even if that info is gathered from somewhere like LinkedIn or Twitter, this is a type of data that a person has willingly shared with the community at large.
  • Implicit data. These are information based on digital behavior such as browsing activity or transactional history. There’s much you can learn about a user by tracking which emails he opened, what pages he viewed, which links he clicked, what products he checked out, etc.

Take note that these segmentations can work by themselves or when combined with one or two other segments/triggers. Let’s begin. 


Based on demographic data.

Demographic data is an example of explicit data. When you have access to demographic data, use it to narrow down your list in the most basic level. 

1. Gender. Creating gender-specific campaigns are usually great for consumer brands with wide product offerings across genders.

2. Age. If your market covers a wide age range, segmenting by age groups can help you communicate with them better.

3. Marital Status. This one's for companies that have different offerings or messaging for singles and married couples.

4. Geography. Location-based brick-and-mortar businesses will benefit a lot from location-specific campaigns. 

5. Timezone. If your company is catering to a global market, it’s ideal that you consider your recipients' timezones when sending campaigns. I.e., you might not want to send emails to EST and CST at the same time.

Based on profession or roles.

Segmenting your campaigns based on professional or social roles are great when creating content that answers your prospects' specific questions, addresses their needs, and helps them do their jobs better.

6. Family or social roles. Hitting it close to home is always a good strategy. Create segments for mothers, fathers, grand parents, sons, daughters, friends—it's always a good idea to connect with your market on a human and relational level.

7. Job function. If you're a B2B company, you need to dig into your contacts’ job functions and responsibilities. Through this you can communicate and address their specific requirements in a more intentional way.

8. Seniority. Always remember that how you communicate with CEOs, executives, managers and stake holders is different from how you would communicate with rank-and-file or support groups. Consider a list segmentation based on seniority.

9. Salary. There are a lot of insights you can derive from salary brackets too, so if you do have access to this type of data, use it to your advantage.

Based on company profile.

10. Industry. Your product or services might cover a wide range of industries: healthcare, finance, digital marketing, travel and hospitality, food and beverage, etc. Honing into specific industries and creating niche-specific content will make your strategy and messaging more targeted.

11. Organization type. In the same way, you might have offerings for various business types—B2B, B2C, SAAS, Non Profit. Here at Spiralytics, we deal with clients and prospects from a diverse range of organization types and it helps to understand the differences of these types so we can custom fit a strategy for each one.

12. Marketing budget. B2B and SAAS organizations will find it useful to know what your prospect's marketing budget is. Having this information will allow you to segment your list and qualify your leads.

Based on purchase activity.

Product-based and ecommerce websites have access to countless of implicit data—insights that can be derived from purchase activity and consumer behavior. Needless to say, automated and transactional emails work best when sent with proper segmentation and triggers. Here are some ideas:

13. Past purchases. Has it been a while since the last purchase? Consider creating a promo to encourage them to purchase again. Did they purchase anything last week? Send them an email one week later to ask for a review. 

14. Purchase interests. Customers usually lean towards specific set of interests, like a specific product category or a specific brand. Use these insights to customize promos and campaigns.

15. Buying frequency. Create a VIP list of your best, most engaged, most active customers; reward them for their loyalty, keep delighting them and make them coming back for more.

16. Amount of purchase. Do specific customers spend more or less than the others? Segmenting them in this manner allows you to create more targeted promos, up-sells, or discounts. 

17. Abandoned cart. Abandoned cart emails work really well. Make sure you have an automated abandon cart campaign set up.

Based on content consumption.

Whatever business type or niche, creating informative content is a proven effective way to generate leads. Furthermore, knowing how your leads consume content will not only help you understand your prospects better but will also help you create more effective content for them.

18. Downloads. Creating list segmentations based on the customers' ebook downloads will show you in general the topics or services your customers are particulary interested to learn more about.

19. Frequently viewed pages. Here at Spiralytics, we like looking at which prospective customers viewed our services pages. Viewing patterns may give you ideas on what specific service they're interested to learn more about.

20. Topics of interest. If your website has a blog, create list segmentations based on articles or categories your leads frequently view. Sending content that recipients are actually interested about based on the topics they frequent.

21. Content format. Which contacts like reading your ebooks? Which ones seem to prefer the blog? Anyone prefer video format? When you have a variety of content formats, it's ideal that you segment your list and only send them the content they prefer.

22. Content engagement. It's one thing to know how your leads consume content, another thing to know how they engage. Create segments for recipients who are actually engaging with your content–those who are signing up for your webinars, downloading ebooks, forwarding them, etc. 

Based on online behavior.

23. Type of device. A recent study shows 54% of users open emails on mobile, 30% on webmail, 19% on desktop, and so on. Segmenting your list depending on the usual device users open your emails with will allow you to create, design and optimize your email content more efficiently.

24. Time-related patterns. What time do users open your content? Do they open in the morning, mid-day, night time? Check time-related patterns and automate your emails accordingly.

25. Viewed pages. Also consider automating email campaigns that are triggered when users viewed specific pages. 

26. Referring website or source. How did your leads find you? Through search? Socia media? A website referral? Use these segmentations to customize, say, a personalised welcome email series, etc.

Based on email activity.

It’s important to track the long-term health and sustainability of your email marketing program for several reasons. According to Hubspot, the average contact database decays at 22.5% every year. Contacts unsubscribe, change jobs, or abandon their email addresses.

Take note that list segmentations are not just for contacts you want to send to, but also for email addresses that you want to avoid so as to not risk your email deliverability.

27. Opens. Keep a tab of those people who open your campaigns regularly. Although Open Rate can mean a lot of things, it makes sense to assume that people who always open your emails know who you are and at the very least, show some curiosity. You'd want to save your best campaigns for these people.

28. Clicks. Clicking on links or CTAs obviously show an even higher level of interest. Experiment on segment contacts based on what they clicked on, and use these insights to create more personalised content.

29. Bounces. A hard bound means the email address does not anymore exist, invalid, gone. Don't hold on to these hard bounces anymore, stop sending them emails, delete. A soft bounce, on the other hand, means the email address was valid however, it could be the email inbox is full or the server is down. These soft bounces can get another chance or two, but after several soft-bounces you might want to rethink whether you should keep sending them or not.

31. Unengaged contacts. As you keep tab of your engaged contacts, keep a list of your unengaged contacts too. Unengaged contacts are those who haven’t opened your emails over a period of time. Create a list of these unengaged contacts and either (1) create a special re-engagement campaign for them or (2) after a couple of attempts to re-engage and they're still unresponsive, stop sending to them altogether.   

32. Unsubscribed contacts. These contacts have taken the initiative to remove you from their inbox for various reasons. Whatever the case, honor their decision to unsubscribe, but also make the effort to understand why they’re unsubscribing, use that analysis to improve your content, and continuously attract more engaged and targeted leads.

Based on contact's lifecycle.

33. Top of the funnel (TOFU). A contact is at the top of the funnel when he just entered the contact database through buying a product or signing up. Creating a welcome email series to TOFU contacts is a great way to start the ball rolling.

34. Middle of the funnel (MOFU). These are contacts who have been receiving emails from you for a while, therefore you should be sending them more advanced and more customized emails. At some point you will have collected significant amount of data to know your contact a bit, which should give you a better profiling of your leads.

35. Bottom of the funnel (BOFU). When a contact has reached the bottom of the funnel, he should be, more or less, already considered as a marketing qualified lead (MQL). Creating a list segmentation of your BOFU contacts will allow you to filter out leads who are ripe for harvest. Email content should be designed to bring home the bacon and to convert to sales.


In conclusion

There are a hundred more ways to segment your list and personalise your email marketing campaigns. The important thing is that you have a clear picture of what your bottom line is, who your recipients are, and create email content that is highly valuable, relatable, and specific to their needs. 

Is your email marketing strategy giving you the best possible results? Or are you completely lost and needing some direction? Message us, let's talk.

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Topics: Email Marketing

Rhiza Oyos

About Rhiza Oyos

Riz is Spiralytics' resident blogger and Inbound Marketing person. She takes pride in being around pre-Penguin and Panda days, investing the past 12 years of her life figuring out SEO, blogging, inbound marketing, and a bit of front-end development. She also holds the record for being the first hired employee of Spiralytics. She did manage to get a life outside of work, get married, and give birth to twin girls. In between work and mothering, you'll likely catch her watching Friends' gag reels on Youtube, or listening to Harry Styles.

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