Thought Leadership

5 Steps to Determine the Best Segmentation Strategy for Your Email Marketing Program

Email segmentation

Congratulations, you’ve gathered a large list of opt-ins for your email marketing program. So what do you do now? Blasting your entire audience with impersonal, generic content is unlikely to work if you’re aiming to catch the eye of attention-challenged users in a competitive inbox.  How do you engage your customers by speaking to each of them individually? By developing a segmentation strategy of course!

Email segmentation is a great way to connect with your audience and increase conversions.  It allows marketers to speak more intelligently to consumers through personalized, relevant content.  Although all the data in your program and the myriad ways you can use it for segmentation can seem overwhelming, there are several steps that can help you simplify the process:

1. Define Your Data Points

The first step in developing your segmentation strategy is figuring out what combination of data about your customers is the strongest predictor of purchase behavior. You can look at things like demographics (age, gender, household income), activity (frequent opener, inactive, newly subscribed), and behavior (recently purchased, abandoned shopping cart, browsed but didn’t buy) to determine what consumer actions and attributes are most likely to accurately predict behavior. 

2. What Data Do You Have and What Data Do You Still Need

After you identify the data that matters most, you will need to determine which of these metrics you already have and which ones still need to be collected.  You have a few options when it comes to the missing data; you can:

  • Infer: some data points can be deducted based on user behavior. For example, if a user consistently clicks on nail polish and 97% of your nail polish purchasers are female, it can be inferred this user is female. 
  • Ask:  you can request information directly from consumers by sending them a message with a distinct call-to-action to update their preferences or take a survey. To motivate consumers to act, you can include an incentive like a 15% off coupon.
  • Enhance: you can turn to a third party to enhance the data you have at hand so you can develop a more complete picture of your audience.

3. Create Personas for Your Customers

Once you have the necessary data, it is time to create personas for different segments of your audience. This will help you better understand and cater to the different groups within your audience. Personas vary by business/ industry so focus on the information that is important to your brand. By developing personas you are better able target customers with content, messaging, and timing that appeals to them. 

4. Create Your Content

Once audience segments are confirmed, the next step is developing content that targets each one.  You can target your audience perfectly but without custom content that is applicable to each group, you will not be able to capitalize on your efforts. For example, when retailer See’s Candies analyzed their audience to identify their most prominent subscriber segments, they discovered that they had a male segment they had never catered to. So for Valentine’s Day, the brand tested different messaging and content geared towards men and, as a result, increased email opens by 4% and email-driven purchases by 25%. For more details on this and other segmentation strategies, review our Personalization Guide: The What, Why, and How of Demographic Segmentation. 

5. Test and Review

Last but certainly not least, it is essential to monitor results and continuously test! Identifying personas and creating content that speaks to them often requires experimentation. Play around with creative and content strategies. By measuring results from the get-go, you will be able to establish benchmarks and perform trend analysis down the road. Furthermore, email segments are always a work in progress, especially as you gain more knowledge about your audience. 

Following these simple steps and segmenting your audience can have an extremely positive impact on results. Segmentation should be a part of every email marketer’s strategy. And with all of the potential segments, the possibilities are endless!

Author Bio

Elizabeth Fella

As Senior Account Manager in Yes Marketing's NYC office, Liz is responsible for providing guidance and support to clients on the Yesmail360i platform along with developing solutions to customer-specific needs. Though dedicated service and analysis, Liz assists marketers in various industries with achieving their email marketing goals. Prior to her position at Yes Marketing, Liz worked in marketing in digital, print, and social in both B2B and B2C spaces. In her free time, Liz enjoys travelling around the world, any/all outdoor activities, and reading.