Email marketing is dead…
I’m sure you’ve heard those four words uttered before, and no doubt you will hear them again. But in reality, email marketing is thriving.
The reason many people believe email marketing is on a decline is because most businesses are getting it all wrong. They are aggressively growing big lists, or worse – buying them, and then spamming every single contact over and over again with the same messaging. Hoping that eventually someone will crack and buy something.
Yes, inboxes are definitely more crowded than they were a few years ago, but it still remains the most effective channel to reach your audience and help them move down the sales funnel. And thanks to segmentation, it’s only getting better.
MailChimp does regular analysis of their users’ segmented vs. non-segmented campaigns.
Here are their global results for segmented campaigns:
Segmentation improves all sorts of subscriber behaviors that lead to more engagement, sales, and customer retention.
What is email list segmentation?
There are a lot of different kinds of people who might be interested in your products or services. But it would be silly to assume they’re all interested for the same reasons, or will respond to your marketing emails in exactly the same way.
That’s where segmentation comes in. Email list segmentation is basically the practice of using the information you have about individuals in your target audience to create and deliver email messages that are more relevant to them.
Still confused? These 10 ideas will help you understand how to segment your email list and better target your audience with marketing emails.
1. Geography and Demographics
Geographic and demographic segments are probably the simplest and most powerful segments you can make. Say you operate a small chain of businesses in different cities in your state. You wouldn’t want to send out the same special offers to each subscriber – no, you’d want to target them based on the town they actually live in.
Lyft created this ultra-targeted marketing email based on subscriber location:
The email is showing how affordable a Lyft ride can be using examples from the town the email subscriber lives in. Very cool.
The same goes for demographic variables. If you know someone’s female, 35-years-old and is a stay-at-home mom, you can better target your emails to promote the right products and services for them.
It’s easy to collect demographic and geographic information by adding extra questions to your signup form, or during the first few emails of your welcome sequence.
Next, you can segment your list based on specific behaviors of your audience – how they interact with your website or current marketing emails.
Research from MailChimp has shown that segmenting your campaigns by subscriber activity increases email clicks by nearly 16%.
For example, you can target based on:
- Pages visited on your website
Send targeted emails to people who’ve visited certain pages of your site. For example, you could send out a special offer or coupon to a visitor who has just browsed your men’s shoe selection – specifically tailored to that product.
- Email engagement
If someone clicks on a piece of content in one of your other marketing emails, have it trigger a unique related campaign. Or tag those users under a certain list segment for future campaigns that are relevant.
- Other behavior
Create a segment of people who’ve become more or less engaged with your site and send out a special campaign to attract them back.
Here’s an example from Asics of a marketing email based on an abandoned cart:
This was a special trigger campaign sent out to a subscriber who was considering purchasing shoes but never finished the checkout process.
3. Purchase History
Using your customer’s past purchase history is a smart way to keep them engaged with your marketing emails.
Pay attention to what people buy, then use that information to send out:
- Suggestions for related accessories
- A reminder to repurchase a product when they run out
- And more
This marketing email from Brooklinen uses purchase history to suggest other products:
Showing customers a series of “top products selected for you” is more likely to attract their interest than general promotions trying to get everyone to buy all your products.
4. Customer Value
Did you know that segmented and targeted emails generate 58% of all revenue? Segmented emails are where your money’s made.
And what better way to make the most of your segments than spending special messages out to your best customers? Create a segment differentiating your highest spending customers so you can send them a unique marketing message that encourages them to buy more.
You can always offer something special to your high-value customers to encourage loyalty, like this marketing email from Trello does:
It promotes customer loyalty by offering a free giveaway of Trello Gold. Putting special effort into retaining and getting the most out of your best customers will bring in a bigger return on investment for your efforts long term.
5. Lead Score
Lead scoring allows you to rank your leads/customers based on your own criteria, such as “Prospect,” “Qualified Lead,” and “Customer.” This is usually based on a combination of demographic data, on-site behavior and email activity.
Here’s a simplistic example of how you could structure your lead scoring and mapping for email marketing:
Using marketing automation software, you can base your lead scores on how prospects behave in several different campaigns, not just one.
In the end, lead scoring your database takes your targeting beyond just behavioral segmentation.
6. Sales Funnel
The whole point of most email marketing campaigns is moving prospects down the sales funnel. But it’s a big mistake to assume that every email signup you have is at the same stage.
The solution to this is segmenting your list by what point someone’s at in the sales funnel. You don’t want to be sending out an explanatory email highlighting your product’s features to someone who’s already used the product again and again. At the same time, you don’t want to promote advanced features to a subscriber who doesn’t completely understand what your product’s about.
This email from TurboTax is designed for subscribers in the retention stage of the sales funnel:
The subscriber has already used TurboTax last year, so instead of focusing on the benefits of the product, they opted to show how easy it is to get started and use it again.
7. Survey or Quiz Answers
Offer up a survey or quiz to your subscribers and use the information they provide to create segments. Better yet, set this up as a lead magnet to attract and segment new subscribers from day one.
You can use checkboxes or radio buttons to allow subscribers to indicate their interests. These work very well – MailChimp found this type of segmentation leads to a 74.52% higher click through rate than non-segmented campaigns.
Here’s an example of one of their marketing emails delivering a survey to help them segment:
In this case, MailChimp is trying to further segment their existing subscribers by offering a quick 3-question survey.
8. Relevant Tags
Tags are a way to segment people within your list. For example, if someone is already in an automation sequence you would tag them so they don’t get sent the regular broadcast emails at the same time.
You can usually set up tags automatically in most email marketing software, or alternatively you can manually add them to contacts retrospectively based on activity.
Most email marketing platforms offer a wide variety of options for tagging. For example, in ActiveCampaign it is as simple as coming up with a name for your tag and creating a trigger within an automation sequence.
9. Organization Type or Industry
If your product or service is relevant to businesses in a wide variety of industries, the organization type could be a good way to segment for you.
Create marketing messages that demonstrate your product’s worth for different kinds of industries. For example, accounting software targeting a not-for-profit could highlight how easy it is for them to keep track of donor contributions.
You can also target your emails based on the job function someone serves in the organization. The person you’re marketing to could be a developer, salesperson, COO, IT lead, etc. Make your marketing message speak to them.
10. Content Interaction
Content interaction is a great segmentation option if content marketing is one of your main strategies to help prospects move down the sales funnel.
Monitor site and email behavior to answer questions like these:
- What topics have they interacted with?
- What type of content has performed best?
Then you can create new marketing emails promoting related content that might interest them.
You can even tag and send out a specific campaign based on whether someone’s downloaded a certain piece of content or not. That’s what Bryan Harris did in this simple marketing email for Video Fruit:
He got a 72% reply rate on that simple email.
Segmenting by which lead magnet prompted them to sign up for your mailing list is a great way to get started with content interaction. From the very beginning, your marketing message will be more tightly tailored to their interests.
These 10 segmentation strategies are just a few of the ways you can create more targeted emails for your list. The more relevance you can bring to individual subscribers on your list, the more effective your marketing strategy will be.
So don’t be afraid to experiment with new segmentation options as they become available through your email marketing software. You might be surprised at how your audience responds and the return on investment it brings as a result.