3 Steps to Getting the Most out of Your Email Marketing by Segmenting Your Contacts

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June 17, 2019

email segmentation

Your email marketing is only as good as your subscriber list. Ever hear that line?

While the statement is true, there is certainly some variability to it. For example, you could have a healthy list with quality contacts and still experience low open-rates or engagement. The real key to optimizing your email list is by using segmentation to provide hyper-relevant and personalized content to your audience.

Why does email segmentation work?

List segmentation is the process of breaking up your email contacts into groups or “segments” by similarities. According to Marketing Sherpa, proper contact list segmentation can double email open-rates.

This is because when emails are relevant to the recipients, the more likely they are to engage with your content. For example, if you are emailing your subscribers to invite them to a fundraising event you’re hosting in Denver, Colorado, you will get more engagement by only sending those emails to contacts in and around the Denver area. Locals are the best segment for you to market to in this instance.

Another example could be if you are promoting a senior citizen discount at your business. Having the option to only promote to the contacts that your discount applies to (in this case, senior citizens) gives you a huge advantage. You’re essentially narrowing down your audience to only the most qualified and engaged prospects. Emails that are relevant to the recipient drive exponentially more revenue than general broadcast emails.

Here’s how to get started:

  • Gather information
  • Decide how to group contacts
  • Build out content for each segment

1. Collect information about your email contacts

Knowledge is power! The more you know about your email subscribers, the better-targeted content you can provide them. Without specific information on contacts, your segmentation options will be limited. Here are the best ways to collect subscriber information for your email segmentation strategy:

Ask for specific information on your email sign-up form.

When you create your email sign-up forms, you can choose which information you would like to collect from those contacts by creating fields for them. Your forms can have required fields in addition to “email address” including first name, last name, birthday, age, and more. Keep in mind you don’t need to ask for all that information at once. Ask only for what is absolutely necessary at the start. You can collect more information over time.

Connect your business systems

Pulling information from outside of your email marketing platform can help you identify information on contacts like location, demographic, customer status, recent purchases, engagement, customer anniversary, spend amount, donation amount, purchase history, and more.

By allowing your different business systems to talk to each other, specific information on your subscribers can be pulled directly into your email marketing platform. Choose to connect your CRM (customer relationship management) like SalesForce, donor management system like DonorPerfect, bookkeeping system like QuickBooks, e-commerce platform like Shopify, and so many others.

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Look at your email reports

There is also plenty of information you can gather right from your email marketing system. With Constant Contact, you can easily identify which contacts engage (or don’t) with your emails so you can segment contacts automatically.

Contacts can also opt themselves into segments depending on which email content they show interest in. For example, if someone clicks on a link in your newsletter to learn more about your hiking club, you can have them automatically assigned to a list segment that you promote hiking gear and events to.

2. Decide how to group contacts

Now that you know how to gather information on your contacts, it’s time to think about what specific information you need to best segment them. This, of course, will vary depending on your specific business and goals. For example:

  • If your goal is to re-engage contacts who have stopped opening your emails, create a list based on subscribers who have not engaged with your emails in the past six months.
  • If your goal is to start a VIP program, create a list of contacts who have spent the most money with your business.
  • If your goal is to reach a specific niche of your audience, then create a group of people who have shown interest or interacted with related content.

Here are some additional ways in which you can segment your contacts:

  • Location
  • Demographic
  • Company
  • Job title
  • Engagement
  • Time as a customer
  • Money spent as a customer
  • Recent purchases
  • Interests

One of the biggest perks of working with an email marketing platform is that many of these segments can be automatically built. For example, as soon as someone signs up for your email list, they are entered into a “new subscriber” segment. This way, your list segments are always up-to-date with the most relevant information on your contacts.

3. Build out content for each segment

Now that you know who you're sending to, you can create the hyper-relevant, personalized content you need to get the best results from your email marketing.

Start with one segment. For example, let’s look at the segment “new customers.”

After a customer makes their first purchase, they will be automatically entered into your “new customers” list in your email marketing platform. The benefit of marketing to this segment is to influence these contacts into becoming repeat customers.

Create an email that welcomes them as an official patron, thank them for their order, and provide them with tips on how to make the most of their new purchase. Keep in touch with this segment by sending them information on upcoming sales or events. They’ll stay engaged as your business stays top-of-mind.

Keep the momentum going

By following these three simple steps to segmenting your emails lists, you will only be providing the best content to the most quality contacts.

Once you have explored email segmentation, you can use email marketing automation to set up segmented email drip campaigns. An email drip campaign is a series of automated email campaigns that are sent in a specific order when triggered by a specific user action as they progress through the customer journey.

For example, create a series of emails to send to re-engage contacts that may have stopped opening your emails. Or, to influence prospects that have not purchased from you yet into becoming first-time customers.

Build relationships with your contacts automatically. When your list segmentation and email drip campaigns are automated, you can just sit back and watch your email do the heavy lifting for you.

About Emily Wiseheart

Contributer at Constant Contact. Emily is a passionate writer/marketer/gardener with experience working for small businesses and a dedication to helping them succeed.