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How (and Why) You Should Segment Your Email List

#7 in Our 20 for 20 Series

Welcome to 20 for 20 where we share our 20 best tips for email marketing and business to celebrate our 20th anniversary.

Can you actually drive more business sending to fewer people on your email list? The answer is a surprising one, and today’s topic is about email marketing segmentation.

First let’s start with the question: What is segmentation? Segmentation is simply the targeting of a specific group of people on your list.

Why would you want to send to just some people on your list and not everyone? The answer is simple…because the smaller your segment, the more relevant you can make your message.

Let’s look at an easy example to understand. Let’s say you owned a store like The Gap which offers clothing for women, men, and kids. If you had data on your customers that included gender, you might want to send your “men’s sale” ad only to the men on your list. Why not send this message to everyone? Well you could, and there are certainly some women on your list that shop for men, but let’s say you really wanted to make this message super relevant (which is always a good idea). You might want to have content and copy that speaks directly to men—Man Talk—how durable the goods are, how you can get them in and out of the store quickly, how these khakis go with everything else in your wardrobe…you get the idea. You’ll get maximum utilization with the stuff that men care about. Why would you want to bother the female audience of your list with such a message if you don’t have to?

Evidence has proven over and over that if you can send a targeted message to a distinct group of people with content that meets their specific needs, you’ll perform better. I mean let’s reduce this to the ridiculous—what if you knew the exact needs of each customer that shopped with you and could include the perfect images and copy specifically for them, one message at a time? That would be the ultimate goal, right? The problem is that would take the rest of your life. With segmentation, we’re taking a big step in that direction so that your message can have an outsized impact.

Ok, now that we know that segmenting is valuable, you may be thinking, “Yeah, but HOW do I segment my audience?” This is the secret…if you knew you would be selling to men, women, and kids, then you should have been collecting this data from the beginning. But if you didn’t, you can still look at your past order history data or use the social profiles some ESPs have in their toolbox that gives you high confidence that you’re sending to men.

There are many ways to segment your email list with data that you DO already have.

  • Are your list members prospects or customers? If you’re running a store, you should at least have this information.
  • Is their “merchandise amount greater than zero?” Even if you don’t have all this data inside your email marketing platform, you probably have it inside the internal systems (or CRM) that you could export.
  • Are they a new customer or a returning customer? You can look at the “join date” on your email list to determine this.

Once you dig in, you’ll find many data points that you can use to segment your audience.

When done right, segmenting your audience can increase sales, elevate engagement, convert prospects into customers, turn first-time customers into repeat customers, and move repeat customers into the loyal customer zone for life. That’s pretty great stuff.

Here’s an example of a segmentation success that we had. One of our clients is Ivan Smith Furniture with stores located throughout Louisiana, Texas, and Arkansas. We created a segment of just their credit customers —which was only about 7% of their list. Then, we sent two different targeted emails to this group: One for the Private Credit Card group and one for the In-House Finance group, each with different offers. The results? We drove $430K in new business in a single weekend! Why was this strategy so successful? Because the offers were incredibly relevant to this group—the message told them directly that they’d been approved for additional credit on their credit lines and there was a sale happening this weekend. So by targeting a small section of their list, we were able to produce outsized results.

Another one of our clients, College Baseball Match, had three really different audiences—coaches, players, and the parents of players. We consistently messaged those audiences differently with the same event. Take college recruiting deadlines, for instance…each of those audiences would have a different pain point and by using segmentation, we could hone in on those and get higher engagement.

I hope this quick video on segmentation has been valuable, but before we go, I have a giveaway to announce. In every 20 for 20 video, we are giving away something valuable and this month’s winner gets lunch—on us. We’re going to give you a $25 lunch delivered to your door, if possible, and the winner is this person below. Congratulations, Christopher at christopher@********wild.com.

If you didn’t win, be sure to tune in next time when I talk about How to Tell a Great Story in an email and give away more great prizes.

In the meantime, be sure to sign up for our 20 for 20 campaign if you haven’t done so already.

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