Male florist, owner of small business flower shop, working on laptop over counter against flowers and plants.
After cultivating an email list of current and potential customers, segment your list to maximize the success of all your email marketing efforts.. — Getty Images/AsiaVision

You’ve created an email list and are growing it by offering relevant, insightful and in-depth content for those who opt in. You’re sharing your email landing page via social media, have opt-in buttons on your website, and have created a special offer of exclusive content for those who sign up for your mailing list. But what’s next?

Segmenting your email list can help you increase your open rate, click-throughs and conversions by delivering targeted emails to your connections based on where they are in your sales funnel. You can also create segments for customers who have purchased specific products in the past. For instance, an e-commerce clothing store can send emails with a special offer for those who have a record of purchasing children’s clothing or ladies’ shoes.

The beauty of segmented email lists

Segmenting email lists can be more effective than social media marketing, such as using Facebook or Twitter to reach prospects. Especially with new regulations on that horizon that may prevent advertisers from collecting specific data about social media users, techniques such as retargeting and remarketing may become more difficult to execute on your favorite social platform.

But email marketing is different. Email readers have opted in — or, at least, not opted out — of receiving your emails. They’ve already given you permission to approach them with relevant messages. Plus, you may have collected data about users based on their visits to your website. They may have even shared their own information with you when they signed up for your email list through a form. You can put all this information together to create targeted emails resulting in:

  • Higher open rates.
  • Fewer unsubscribers.
  • More click-throughs.
  • Increased conversions.

How to segment your lists

Each of the cloud-based email programs operates slightly differently in the ways it permits you to segment, but programs like Constant Contact, Mailchimp and others are all fairly intuitive. Most allow you to add tags to your contacts’ names and email addresses so you can divide your list in multiple ways.

Basic email segmentation begins with data collection so you know how to sort people on your list. You can collect data in many ways. Some of the data you collect can be based on:

  • Which content asset subscribers download as a “free gift” for signing up for your email list.
  • Information subscribers provide on your sign-up form (age, gender, mailing address, job title, etc.).
  • Data collected from cookies on your website.
  • Past purchase information from your website.
  • Which emails subscribers have opened in the past.

Cart abandonment emails can earn back lost sales at a rate of 3% to 14%. For a tactic that takes very little time to execute, using email list segmentation can help those reclaimed sales add up.

Segment your email list based on how subscribers responded to past emails

One of the easiest ways to segment your list is based on how subscribers responded to previous emails. For instance, if you’re doing a drip campaign to promote an upcoming webinar, you can send different emails to those who:

  • Already signed up after reading your first email.
  • Opened the email but didn’t sign up.
  • Didn’t open the email.
  • Attended previous webinars.

Most email programs will allow you to segment in this way with a click or two. You can even send the exact same campaign a second time to subscribers who didn’t open the first. You may want to change the headline to try to catch their attention more effectively or just try sending it at a different time of day or a different day of the week.

Track results of past campaigns until you discover the best times and dates to send emails for the best response from your audience.

Use tags to separate contacts based on demographics such as region, age, or buying preferences

Some small business owners use tags to manually segment their email lists. For instance, a food box subscription service may segment their list based on people who aren’t customers yet, are currently only one-time customers, or are current subscribers. They would presumably have this information in their database.

If you use an opt-in form that asks for demographic data, your email program may automatically segment your list based on that data.

Segment customers based on behavioral data

If you use cookies to track your subscribers’ web activity and preferences, you can go even deeper with email segmentation. You can divide subscribers based on specific purchases they’ve made on your site. For example, a customer who previously ordered a specific brand of dog food from your pet supply e-commerce site might be interested to know when that brand goes on sale or adds a new flavor to its selection.

Capture lost sales with email segmentation

You can also send emails to subscribers who have abandoned their cart without making a purchase.

Cart abandonment emails can earn back lost sales at a rate of 3% to 14%. For a tactic that takes very little time to execute, using email list segmentation can help those reclaimed sales add up.

Abandoned cart emails may include a coupon to entice customers to come back and make a purchase. But they don’t have to. You can offer free shipping or create fear-of-missing-out (FOMO) by sharing how quickly the products they wanted are selling out.

Use a short, friendly and catchy subject line that fits your brand’s personality, and sit back and watch the sales roll in from items left in shoppers’ carts.

Increase conversions with personalized emails

The beauty of email marketing is in its personalization. Your subscribers want to feel as if you are writing directly to them, and that you understand what they care about and desire. Email segmentation allows you to personalize emails and make offers that will resonate with your audience.

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