Email segmentation is the practice of dividing your email subscribers into segments based on common traits and then sending tailored emails to those segments.

When you get segmentation right, the rewards are many. And this post will teach you the basics so you can start engaging your subscribers effectively.

What is email segmentation?

Email segmentation is more than just dividing your list between ‘active’ and ‘inactive’ subscribers and sending an email blast.

It’s also more than simply slapping a [FirstName] merge tag in the subject or the opening line to claim you’ve personalized your email.

Here’s what Joanna Wiebe has to say about segmentation:

“Subscribers are different. And they want different things from you.

Based on what they’ve done — and not done — and who they are, we can send them targeted, more tailored emails instead of lumpy generic blast emails.

That’s what segmentation is all about.”

Joanna Wiebe, Copyhackers [10X Emails]
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Why does segmentation matter?

I hate WhatsApp broadcast messages.

They’re the bane of my existence.

This generic one-size-fits-all message (it never fits 🙄) is usually sent by a contact too lazy to send me a personal message. It also guarantees I’ll block and delete the offender.

I feel the same way about generic emails that were clearly not meant for me. And I’m sure I’m not alone.

You can probably relate if you’ve ever had a brand try to sell you something you’ve already bought at full price — worse with a ‘special offer’ or discount code.

It’s annoyingly frustrating for your subscribers when you get email segmentation wrong or don’t do it at all.

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Does email segmentation really work?

By now you’re kinda-sorta on board. But you’re wondering if this is one of those marketing claims that everybody makes but no one can support with data.

And I don’t blame you. That’s a reasonable reaction given how many false claims float around Beyonce’s internet every day. Which is why I’ve come with cold hard data, courtesy of Mailchimp.

Mailchimp found that senders who segmented their emails saw 100.95% more clicks and 14.31% more opens than senders who did not use segmentation.

Segmented email campaigns also had lower unsubscribe rates and lower bounce rates than non-segmented email campaigns.

Email segmentation - graph showing performance of segmented vs non-segmented campaigns

Source: Effects of List Segmentation on Email Marketing Stats [Mailchimp]

Imagine doubling your email click-through rate just by segmenting your list! Talk about an easy win.

But how exactly do we get that win?

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How to segment your list

Depending on your industry or your email goal, you may need to switch up your approach to segmentation from time to time.

So it’s helpful to know what your options are.

List segmentation by demographics

Often this is what people consider segmentation — grouping subscribers based on elements like age, sex, occupation, income, education, marital status.

If one of your offers is geared toward a specific demographic, segmenting along these lines may be beneficial.

For example, a clothing retailer may have a specific line or collection for women and choose to send an email promoting the collection to female subscribers only.

List segmentation by geography

Segmenting by geography is pretty basic but still valuable. It involves sending emails based on a subscriber’s location.

An example of this would be Walmart opening a new store and sending a ‘Coming soon’ email to customers who live within a 10-mile radius of that zip code.

Or a utility company emailing customers about planned maintenance work in a specific area.

List segmentation by behavior

Segmenting by behavior is one of the more powerful types of segmentation.

These emails tend to be automated with specific actions set as the triggers.

Examples include:

  • An abandoned cart email gets triggered when someone fails to complete a purchase.
  • An onboarding email sequence that’s triggered when a user signs up for a software.
  • Upgrade email for a frequent user of a software.
  • A newsletter sent to readers who frequently engage with/comment on blog content.

Improve your action-triggered emails with this Tutorial Tuesdays video.

List segmentation by psychographics

Another way to segment email subscribers is using psychographics.

There is some overlap between psychographic data and demographic data: however, psychographics is more focused on the subscriber’s emotions and values.

It considers the why’s that are not so tangible and clear-cut.

“…it doesn’t help to know that Marketing Miranda drives a Subaru Ascent if you don’t know what lead her to that decision…

Perhaps Miranda has a golden retriever and enjoys outdoor activities – this would explain the Subaru choice.”

Michelle Chow for Copyhackers

Your turn

Email segmentation helps you send more relevant emails. This helps improve your subscriber’s experience and increase your overall engagement.

Now you know the what, why, and how of email segmentation, it’s time to put this knowledge to work.

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Want to dive even further into email segmentation? Join us in the 10X Emails course.