Email Segmentation 101

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Segmentation is a fancy way of saying that you can (and should!) categorize the people on your email list based on certain parameters.

What do I mean by that?

Imagine that your email list is one big bucket full of email addresses. 

If your list is not segmented, everyone will be on the same bucket together, and every email you send will go out to everyone inside that bucket.

What’s the problem with this? Well, imagine this scenario:

You just launched a new course and you want to start promoting it. You send sales emails to your list so they become aware of your new course and purchase it.

Let’s say someone goes ahead and buys your course. And then suddenly… bam! They get bombarded with more sales emails for the course they just purchased….

They will probably first get annoyed, and then start thinking maybe there was something wrong with their purchase? 

It’s not a very good way to keep your customers happy!

This was a super simple but the most usual example of why segmentation is so important. 

But don’t worry about it, in this post I’m going to teach you all about segmentation, ideas on how you can segment your email list, and best practices, so let’s get started

Ready to start building your email list?

ActiveCampaign is my favorite email marketing tool, and you can get started today with a 14-day free trial.

How should I segment my email list?

There is no right or wrong answer to this question. How you categorize your audience will depend greatly on your own business, but there are some parameters you can use that might fit your audience:

  • Demographics: Age, where they live, what language they speak, their relationship status
  • Behavior: Whether they open or not your emails, if they click on a particular link, if they added something to the cart, where they are on their customer journey, etc.
  • Hobbies and Interests

These are only some ideas to get your wheels turning on identifying the best way to do this for your audience.

How can your email marketing tool segment your audience?

Each tool is different, and for the sake of keeping it short and simple I will talk in terms of my favorite tool, ActiveCampaign, but I will add some references of what the equivalent terms are in some other popular tools out there.

Most tools have more than 1 level of segmentation. This means that we can have bigger buckets, and inside those bigger buckets, we can have more specific and smaller buckets.

In ActiveCampaign, the bigger bucket is called a List, and the smaller, more targeted one is called a Tag.

Note: One person can be on more than 1 list and have several tags at the same time.

  • Lists are the broadest form of communication. I recommend only having a limited amount of lists.
    For example, if you are a service provider and you also sell courses or digital products, you can have one master list – where you will send your regular newsletter – one list where you will keep all your clients (past and current), and one list where you will keep all the people who purchased something from you (your products or courses).
  • Tags: You can think of tags as labels you attach to your audience. For example, if someone purchased a course from you, they will be inside your “Course Purchases” list, but the tag can be more specific than that, specifying the name of the course, whether they paid in full, etc.

There are other options to segment, like custom fields, but we are keeping it simple here so with those 2 levels, lists and tags, you can completely change your client’s experience for the better!

Equivalent in other tools:

  • Flodesk: Flodesk only has one level of segmentation, and they are called segments
  • Mailerlite: The equivalent of lists is called Segments, and their tags are called Groups.
  • Convertkit: The equivalent of lists is called Segments, and they also have tags

How to include segmentation in your email marketing strategy?

Now that you have your segments ready to go it’s time to put them to good use.

Again, this will greatly depend on your business, but the basics when you setup your campaigns or automations, is that you first “filter” based on the list or tags that you want to target.

Let’s see some examples:

  • If you are sending emails to sell something, you will filter out the people who already purchased – basically, you will send it to your entire list except for the people who have a tag saying that they already bought that thing.
  • If you are starting a referral program, you might want to send an email about it only to your past clients.
  • If you did a live webinar and you want to send an email with the replay, you need to make sure it only goes out to the people who actually signed up for it – aka they have a tag that says they signed up for it.

Best Practices

Naming Convention:

I always recommend you follow a naming convention for all your tags. It’s the best way to stay organized and to be able to easily find and filter by the right tag.

You can choose the naming convention of your choice, but this is something I do in my own business:

  • For courses: “Course: [course Name]”
  • For clients: “Client: Past Client” or “Client: Current Client”
  • To identify the services I offered: “Service: [name of service]”
  • For webinars: “Webinar: [Webinar name] + [Webinar Date]

You get the gyst, it doesn’t matter what you name them as long as there is some sort of logic to it that you can apply throughout your entire audience.

Less is always better:

Well, not always, but by this I mean, don’t overdo it. Make sure you are creating segments that are truly relevant and will actually make your client’s experience better. 

I see more often than not in clients that like to segment based on every little thing, and in the end, just makes everything very cluttered and it is actually harder to target the right people.

Ready to start building your email list?

ActiveCampaign is my favorite email marketing tool, and you can get started today with a 14-day free trial.

Summary

In this blog post, we went through the importance of segmenting your audience to be able to send them more targeted emails.

Having even the most basic forms of segmentation in place – if you didn’t have any before – will be quickly shown by how much happier and well-received your emails are.

Comment down below and let me know, how do you like to segment your audience?

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