Why List Segmentation is a Must for Email Marketing

Email segmentation is a must for a successful online marketing strategy. Have you ever gotten an email from a business that was completely irrelevant and thus extremely aggravating? If you said “no,” you’re either extremely lucky or you’re doing business with a brand that has a great marketing department behind it. If you said “yes,” then you know exactly why list segmentation is a must for a successful marketing strategy.

To get a clearer idea of what we mean, say you signed up for a health club’s email list and indicated that you are interested in swimming and weight training on the sign-up form. You’d think that you would receive emails geared toward your stated interests, but if that health club didn’t segment its e-mail list, you might receive emails about anything from youth programs to yoga.

What kind of impact could email segmentation have on our hypothetical health clubs’ ability to nurture leads, convert them and ultimately retain them as paying customers? Let’s start by looking at some key statistics that attest to the benefits of email segmentation.


The Numbers Behind Email Segmentation
Email segmentation is an easy enough concept to get your mind around: Instead of treating your email list like one undifferentiated mass, you separate your leads into different segments based on certain criteria (demographics, place in the sales cycle, geographic location, etc.) and then tailor your emails to each specific segment. This makes it possible to bring a higher degree of personalization to every email you send and fosters a stronger connection between you and your customers.

This isn’t just another overhyped marketing tactic – it’s a tried and true technique and the numbers prove it. According to research from Lyris, 39 percent of marketers who segmented their email lists saw higher open rates, 28 percent were able to lower their unsubscribe rates and 24 percent improved deliverability and revenue.

x_0_0_0_14123236_800Segmenting your email list will help you give your readers a more personalized experience.

More recent research from MailChimp, a popular email marketing service, turned up similar results. MailChimp measured the results of segmented campaigns run through its platform from all over the world and compared them to those of non-segmented campaigns. The results?

  • The open rate for segmented campaigns was 14.47 percent higher than non-segmented campaigns.
  • Segmented campaigns received 58.89 percent more clicks than non-segmented campaigns.
  • Unique opens were 10.55 percent higher in segmented campaigns.
  • Unsubscribes were 7.88 percent lower for segmented emails than for unsegmented email blasts.

These statistics serve as proof to something that makes sense on an intuitive level: People respond more favorably to something that was clearly written with their interests and needs in mind rather than something that was obviously mass produced.

“Segmented campaigns received 58.89% more clicks than non-segmented campaigns.”

How Should You Segment Your Email List?
There’s no right or wrong way to segment your email list, but there are some ways that are more helpful than others. One thing to be aware of from the start, however, is that if you try to segment your subscribers by too many criteria, you’ll end up with an unwieldy mass of segments that will take up too much of your time to maintain.

One of the most effective segmentation strategies is to differentiate your contacts based on their level of interest in your business. Where are they in your lead nurturing cycle? Someone who has signed up for your list could be characterized as a Lead, someone who is interested enough in your business to have downloaded some of your content.

Alternatively, someone who has downloaded several pieces of content could be segmented into your Sales Qualified Leads category, and should be ready to receive more product-focused emails based on what they’ve downloaded. People who have bought from you can be segmented as Customers and repeat buyers could be considered Fans or Evangelists.

To do this, you can set up form fields on your sign-up page that let subscribers identify their key interests, demographic profile, job title, industry and so on. Going back to our health club example, the club could have checkboxes on the sign-up form that allow them to indicate if they’re interested in swimming, group classes, weight training or other activities. From there, it’s possible to segment an email list based on those choices and ensure each subscriber only sees what is relevant to his or her interests.

By sending content and offers that are relevant to each segment based on where they are in the buying cycle, you’re more likely to engage them and get them to interact with you. If you stick with this best practice, your audience will see your name in their list of unread emails and it will be one of the first they open because they are expecting to get interesting and relevant content.


Nigel Williams

Nigel Williams has been working with affiliate networks and ad technology since 2005. He has driven millions of dollars in sales and leads for many of the worlds most popular brands.

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