Real Magnet

7 Ways to Segment Your Email List

A recent survey of digital marketers by Econsultancy shed some light on how important targeting and segmenting is this year. When asked which digital marketing opportunities were “most exciting” in 2013, 35% of marketers cited “Targeting and Personalization,” the exact same number who identified “Social Media Engagement” as exciting. Only “Mobile Optimization” received scored higher, at 43%.

What was most interesting about the study to me however is the trending in the data. Social Engagement was down 19 points from 54% in 2012. And Targeting wasn’t even considered exciting enough last year to be included in the 2012 survey. And yet here it is, right up at the top. Email’s stock is on the rise this year, driven largely by the opportunities that exist to reach increasingly smaller segments with narrower and more relevant messages.

Data integration and marketing automation is one way to achieve targeting and personalization, but it is not the only way. Good old fashioned list segmentation works too, allowing you to organize your subscribers into smaller and more like-minded groups, for more targeted messaging.

Here are 7 ways to segment your email list right now, with the data you already have:

1. New subscribers
Even if someone just joined your list, you still know something very important about them already – they just joined your list. Create a “new subscribers” segment and send versions of your emails that recognize these subscribers might not have as much experience with your brand as others. Focus on introductory offers and educational content that teaches them about your brand and products.

2. Geography
Targeting by geography serves a couple of different purposes. On the one hand, it creates opportunities to include content relevant to different markets (e.g. airline rates to your conference from the specific city in which the subscriber is located). It also allows you to group subscribers by time zone, so that you can stagger the sending of your messages to reach the inbox at the ideal time in each location.

3. By ISP
You have long known what customers’ accounts are with Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail and other ISPs. Now with each of them adding new inbox tools and filters, there is an opportunity to send slightly modified messages to segments for each ISP for whitelisting purposes. For example, Hilton HHonors Program recently sent an email to Gmail subscribers with the Gmail-specific pre-header text, “Priority Inbox Users, please click the (+) to ensure that you see our latest offers.”

4. Prospects vs Customers
The main difference between prospects and customers is that customers have already responded to your brand, which allows you to communicate with them at the product level. Prospects may be interested in specific products, but teaching them more about your brand puts you in a position to sell all of your products, which is advantageous if you do not know what specifically they are interested in (as is often the case with prospects). Having a segment of previous customers at the ready also facilitates customer loyalty offers and promotions.

5. Purchasers of similar products
Knowing what someone has purchased previously (or what event someone has registered for) can be an enormous lift when marketing a new product or event. Not only can an email suggest a new purchase, but a message written expressly around a segment of past purchasers or a specific product can also detail why they would like what is now on offer.

6. Recency of Engagement
Winback Campaigns are common and sensible; take a segment of your list that has been unresponsive for a significant period of time, and create a separate campaign for them which acknowledges as much and tries to bring them back into the fold. What is less common and carries a much greater opportunity is a Momentum Campaign aimed at the segment of your list that has been exceedingly well engaged recently. These are the people hanging on everything your brand is saying, and are most responsive to requests to share content and take other action that evangelizes your brand and product.

7. Consistency of Engagement
Just as you have subscribers who only pay attention to emails around a once-per-year conference or a seasonal promotion or activity, you also have some who seem to click on almost every email you send. A common practice is to curtail some messages to the seasonally engaged so they do not become bored and unsubscribe before the period when they are likely to click and/or convert. With the consistently engaged, there may be a need to send even more messages their way, as your supply may not yet have met their demand. Creating a segment specifically for this group  can yield incremental engagement and selling opportunities.