Why Email List Segmentation Matters

In the world of TV shows, groups of people often find themselves in situations where they need to split up and travel separately for a while. It might be so they can cover more ground, to avoid danger, or maybe just to set up the part of the episode where Scooby earns a Scooby Snack.

Whatever the reason for splitting up, it can be effective in the fictional TV universe.

It can be pretty useful in an email program too.

Put simply, email segmentation is the process of splitting up your email list. That way, you can cover more ground in your email program, targeting certain parts of your email list with specialized communication.

What are the benefits of email list segmentation?

Segmentation might not earn you a Scooby Snack, but it can really help your email marketing team out anyway.

List segmentation allows you to send more relevant content.

The more relevant your email communication is, the more likely your audience will continue to engage with it. Of course, no email audience is a monolith, so splitting up your email list based on certain audience characteristics can help you increase relevance.

Has someone engaged with a certain vertical on your site? Move them into an email list segment where you can target them with additional content from that vertical. Have they viewed multiple products in a certain category? Show them an email with similar products. Once people on your email list have purchased your flagship product, move them into a list where you can show them a product that pairs nicely with it.

It helps you send just the right amount of email.

If you send too much email to your list, you might scare the more email-averse parts of your list into unsubscribing early. However, if you don’t email frequently enough, you might be missing out on an opportunity to engage your more dedicated subscribers.

Instead, you can optimize your sending frequency with a bit of segmentation. Identify which of your subscribers are most engaged, then isolate these power users in a segment of your email list. That way, you can engage them with more email without annoying the rest of your list.

Alternately, you can use segmentation to move the less active parts of your list into a lower sending frequency. You might even try to nudge them into opening your emails again with a re-engagement campaign.

Email list segmentation progresses your audience down the funnel.

Ultimately, the goal of your email program is to drive revenue. By sending emails that align with a particular subscribers place in the funnel, you may be more likely to convert them.

For example, if you’re a publisher who just converted a new email subscriber, first of all, congratulations! You’ve now got one of the most effective tools for converting paid subscribers.

Still, you wouldn’t want to hit these new subscribers with a hard subscription sell just yet; after all, you’ve only just met. Instead, you can target your email subscribers based on their level of engagement with your content. Once they’ve become familiar with the quality they can expect from your content, they may be more likely to pay up.

Segmentation increases your email marketing ROI.

So does segmentation work? According to the numbers, absolutely. Segmented and targeted email campaigns account for more than half (58%) of all email ROI.

Of course, you can’t just segment your email list and sit back. You have to make sure you’re segmenting the right parts of your list. So what are a few effective ways to segment your list?

  • Engagement level: People who actively engage with your content will have different appetites for content than the segments of your audience who aren’t as engaged
  • Onsite activity (or lack thereof): If a subscriber has consistently viewed a particular type of content, it makes sense to send content that aligns with their history. Alternately, if a subscriber hasn’t taken a particular activity (such as complete their profile or leave a review), you can segment these users and nudge them along.
  • Location: Segmenting your list by location gives you powerful geo-targeting capabilities.
  • Purchase history: Once subscribers have made a purchase, asking them to purchase the same item is a missed opportunity. Point them towards an item that complements that purchase
  • Email metrics: If subscribers have stopped opening your emails, you can segment these non-openers and target them with a re-engagement campaign. Likewise, if they’re opening but not clicking, you may want to consider segmenting them and testing different kinds of content.

Finally, it’s important to remember that segmentation is not the be-all, end-all of an effective email program. Basically, don’t segment your email list just so you can say you’re segmenting.

If you’re sinking significant resources into hyper-segmentation yet seeing minimal results, you may want to reconsider whether your efforts fit your audience. Are you segmenting along the right lines? Does your email content align with your list segments?

Maybe a simpler email list segmentation process is best for your audience. After all, as in the TV world. there are times when splitting up works; other times, it’s best to work as a team.

Editor, PostUp PlayBook