A Guide on Email Segmentation - In Depth
This piece is an opportunity to take a more in-depth look at what can be achieved using email segmentation, and specifically how you can use it.
by Patrick Foster on May 08, 2019

Recommended reading: 4 Visual Email Marketing Tips to Increase Conversions

Consequently, let’s skip right past defining our terms and get to the meat of the piece (if you haven’t read the previous piece on this topic, please do so first, or you might not be able to follow the discussion). Here’s a closer glimpse at the powerful tool that is email segmentation:

Efficiency, Impact, and Personalization

There are three reasons in particular why email segmentation is so worth pursuing, and the above subheading covers them. Firstly, segmented emails are efficient: messages that aren’t relevant to particular audiences aren’t sent to them in the first place, which typically saves money (bulk email sending isn’t free) and avoids piling yet more unrequested material into stuffed email inboxes.

Secondly, segmented emails are impactful: sent only when they’re relevant, and catered specifically to the recipient’s interests, they’re less likely to be overlooked and much more likely to be opened (when constructed correctly, at least). Generic emails can easily become counterproductive, causing recipients to stop paying attention.

Lastly, segmented emails are personalizable: personalization has become a core part of the marketer’s playbook, offering content that’s tailored specifically to the individual recipient, and it fits wonderfully well with segmentation (which is essentially a broader form of personalization). What’s more, great personalization can make things seem more purposeful — a few personal details can cause recipients to wonder if the images you added (likely just free stock images picked to pad things out) were actually chosen just for them.

Great email segmentation ultimately involves using all the information you have on a customer, whether individual or collective, to create the UX most valuable to them, leading to optimal ROI and little wasted effort.

How to Get the Prerequisites Configured

Having revisited the value of email segmentation, let’s get to the heart of the matter: how you actually get it running. Very simply, you just need two things: a comprehensive set of user data tied to email addresses, and an email automation tool capable of applying wide-ranging filters to that type of data.

The first is time-consuming to collect, but fundamentally easy if you plan ahead. You obviously need to collect email addresses somehow, and there are two main ways to do this:

Offer something in return. Whether it’s a useful downloadable guide to a relevant topic, or a regular newsletter (possibly featuring discounts), you can gather addresses through a simple value exchange: give us your contact details, and we’ll give you this resource.

Require them for vital actions. Gathering email addresses in the ecommerce world is a breeze, because they’re near-exclusively used to handle user accounts, order confirmations, and any subsequent updates. If there’s an action that the typical user will surely want to take, simply require them to add their email address to get it done.

Once you have your data collected, you’ll need to import it into your preferred email automation tool — top contenders include Mailchimp, AWeber, and Constant Contact.

The specifics will depend on the program’s interface, but the general idea will always be the same: there’ll be an option to import data from a type of file or even a platform (with the possibility of using a plugin of some kind to pull the data through), then options to filter that data into distinct segments. For instance, you could create a new segment consisting of all users who used a particular type of phone to access your site.

Remember: choosing the tools to gather email accounts and segment them is the biggest step, because after that you’ll have support services and knowledge bases to lean on. Don’t expect to know what’s happening from the outset: read provided tutorials, get involved with communities, and run some email experiments. You’ll pick things up soon enough.

Working Alongside Other Contact Methods

Once you’ve started using email segmentation, it’s hugely beneficial to step back and take a broader view of what you’re trying to achieve, because there’s likely still so much more you could be achieving with segmentation going beyond email. Put simply, think about every moment in a prospective customer’s day at which there might be value in reaching them — what if you could reach them then? Well, there’s no reason why you can’t. It’s all about triggering.

You probably know about cart abandonment emails that are sent out when store visitors add items to their carts but leave without converting, but you can do more. For instance, there’s a lot that can be achieved using mobile notifications — if you can justify people installing your mobile app, you can get a direct route to their attention at any time of the day (provided you don’t overuse it and get your notifications silenced or disabled.

Of course, you can also use chatbots and SMS messaging platforms to reach people (and the options don’t stop there). Segmentation is tremendously powerful in itself, but it’s also a gateway to a vast new world of niche targeting, so don’t settle for simple email campaigns. Use email as the core of your operation, and support it however you can.

Wrapping Up

In the previous piece, we looked at the essentials of the concept of email segmentation: what it is, how it works in principle, and how it fits into a business. Here, we’ve expanded on the exact value of email segmentation, run through how you can get started with using it, and covered the vital point of email being just one part of a broader marketing strategy.

If the last piece left you curious about email segmentation, perhaps this one will get you started using it. Why not pick a lead generation tool and an email automation tool and see how far you can get? With the inevitable free trials, you’re not going to lose out, and you never know: it might end up transforming your business.