How Email Segmentation Can Increase Engagement and Open Rates


Email segmentation is often an undervalued tool for marketers.

Segmenting your email marketing contacts is just what it sounds like – breaking up your subscriber list into smaller segments based on specific criterion.

Done correctly, email segmentation helps ensure your prospects get the right information, in the right format – and at the right time.

Segmentation can be done in a variety of ways; you can carve up your list however you’d like based on the parameters you’ve decided on.

With marketing automation, you can send to people who recently downloaded your whitepapers an offer they can’t refuse.

Send the right subscribers a birthday message or create a compelling return offer for those who bought from you a few months ago.

Send to those likely running out of product; the exact parameters are up to you.

The ability to segment your list properly will depend in part on your email marketing automation strategy and the quality of your data; a list of emails and names will only get you so far.

The data you have available will come from a variety of sources; your intake forms, order sheets and even analytics about each prospect’s recent and previous activity can be used to segment your large subscriber list into smaller, more targeted segments.

Segmentation also allows for better personalization; you’ll be more effective at meeting the needs of your prospects and at sending them offers designed to personally appeal if you segment your leads properly.

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When Email Segmentation Goes Wrong

This past December, a member of our client success team received a “Happy Birthday” email with a special coupon for a percentage off my meal.

This happened to be from a restaurant they frequent and so their response was one of excitement.

The only problem was…their birthday is not until JULY.

Within a few hours, however, they received an apology email from them.

They said the birthday coupon was sent in error BUT they believe we should treat every day as a special celebration of our birth and because they were a special customer, they would like me to use the coupon anytime.

A good save by the restaurant, but a clear miss segmenting their customer data.

Segmentation can be a powerful asset to your email campaigns, and here’s how:

The Benefits of Email Segmentation

Email allows you to craft a very specific message for as narrow or as wide of a group as you need to; you can deliver targeted messages in batches instead of taking the more general approach.

Instead of blasting generic (and boring) content to everyone who ever handed over their email address, you can craft a compelling and laser focused message for a precise group of prospects, increasing your chances of success.

email segmentation example email marketing

Segmentation can help you in a variety of ways, including:

Improving your Open Rates: You may have the best offer ever inside, but if people are not actually opening your emails, they’ll never know. Email segmentation allows you to tailor not only the message but the subject line to the recipient; your targeted prospects will be more likely to open your messages when the subject lines resonate.

Increase Conversions: Personalized content sells; put the right content in front of the right buyer at the right time and you increase your chances of making a sale. List segmentation can help ensure that you not only have the right offer on the table but that you are only sending each prospect relevant information.

Boost your Click Through Rates: Send them relevant content and make it inviting – and they’ll click through. Bombard prospects with too many general offers that don’t resonate – and they won’t.

Reduce the Amount of Unsubscribes: The dreaded unsubscribe email will come a little less frequently when you employ email segmentation. Why does segmentation help? By pre-filtering your messages to only send relevant content, you avoid bombarding your prospects with annoying and irrelevant messages.

Avoid Being Labeled as Spam: Send too much, too fast or bombard your prospects with general messages and you’ll annoy them enough to label you as spam. Once you’re relegated to that bin, you may never climb out again. Some prospects are just not motivated enough to bother unsubscribing when you annoy them; hitting the spam button works just as well.

List segmentation ensures that only useful and relevant content gets through and that you have a much lower risk of annoying the very customers you are trying to attract.

email segmentation delivra email marketing software

10 Email Segmentation Strategies to Try for your Next Campaign

How will you sort your prospects into segments? Try one or more of these methods to break your list into manageable, targeted groups:

  • Organization type: For those selling B2B, a non-profit might get a different marketing message and approach than a for profit; you can also segment based on enterprise size.
  • Age: Are you emailing someone old enough to buy and use your product?
  • Geography: Where do they live, work and play? Make sure the people getting your message are actually near enough to act on your offer.
  • Previous Purchases: This information is likely at your fingertips – what did they buy and when did they buy it? Identify upsell and resell opportunities when you target this segment of repeat customers.
  • Gender: Your product or service may appeal to both men and women, but you still may wish to approach these very different demographics in different ways.
  • Position and Seniority Level: The decision maker may need a different email strategy than the gatekeeper; knowing the role your target plays in their organization can help you craft a compelling campaign.
  • Abandoned Cart: It happens all the time – a customer adds items and then doesn’t buy. Sending targeted emails to those who have left carts behind allow you to personalize your message and your email could trigger a return visit.
  • Purchase Frequency: How often do they visit, and how often do they buy? If you have a loyalty program, this group may already be pre-segmented.
  • Preferred content: Do certain types of content resonate with specific groups? Segment based on who opens your emails, who reads and responds to your blog and who downloads your ebooks and whitepapers to provide customized content to specific groups.
  • Point in the sales funnel: Where does this prospect fall? Are they gathering intel, making decisions or actually buying? Segmentation helps you nurture leads by providing content at the correct times based on where the prospect is in your funnel.

Putting Segmentation to Work for you

At the most basic level, you need only a few tools to start with list segmentation:

  • Data: What do you know about the prospects on your list? The data tied to your emails is what you’ll use to craft compelling and targeted campaigns. Useful data can be anything from where the prospect lives to their hobbies, favorite sports team or even the last time they visited your site.
  • Your preferred email list tool: How will you send your targeted emails?
  • A plan for organizing your segmented lists: Delivra makes it easy to divide up your existing list of prospects anyway you’d like. Organize your lists in a variety of ways to target specific groups and to deliver relevant and personalized content every time.

For many business owners, the benefits of email segmentation are clear – but the actual process of slicing and dicing the list can be overwhelming. Contact us to learn more about what segmentation can do for you and to demo Delivra; you’ll be able to see the power of this useful marketing tool first hand.


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