9 ways to effectively segment your email marketing lists

segment email marketing lists

These days, customers live under a constant barrage of mass media advertising. We watch commercials on television, hear ad spots on the radio, listen to promotions while we’re filling up our gas tank, and throw out tons of generic junk mail. That means that if you want to grab people's attention, you need to put out content that feels personalized to them.

One of the best ways to connect with your customers on an individual level is to segment your email list – and you can do it without too much extra work. Read on to learn more about email segmentation and the techniques you need to do it effectively.


What is email segmentation?

Segmentation is effectively dividing your contact list into groups based on common traits. Once your list is segmented, you can send personalized emails to each segment quickly and easily.

You can divide your email list into as many segments as you need, and one contact can be in more than one segment. For example, Lisa from New Jersey may be on your Northeast United States list, your new subscriber list, and your mid-range spending budget list. She could receive emails sent out to each of these segments, as well as any emails you send out to your whole email list.

 

Why you should segment your email marketing lists

Email marketing is one of the most powerful tools you have at your disposal. It's your best bet at reaching out to customers directly, not to mention that it's still a primary source of ROI for many marketers. But your customers don’t want to read emails that feel canned or impersonal – and they certainly don't want to get spammed.

Sending individual emails to your entire contact list obviously isn’t an option – but email segmentation allows you to tailor content to your clients’ needs and interests while still automating your email marketing. You can organize customers with similar traits into groups and send each group an email that will feel personalized, despite reaching hundreds or even thousands of people. Here are some of the ways you could divide your email list to make sure your customers get content that's personalized to their interests and needs.


9 ways to segment your email list

 

1. Demographics

One of the simplest ways to segment your email list is by demographics, such as gender, age, occupation, language, industry, or geographic location. You can tailor your copy, offers and product recommendations to customers depending on each group's specific traits, making your email more relevant to the reader. For example, if you have customers in the Netherlands, you could offer a type of product that's more likely to appeal to them than to customers in Germany.

You can gather this information when customers subscribe to your email list or with a survey that they complete in exchange for a discount or downloadable offer.

 

2. New subscribers

You may also want to consider segmenting your list by how recently a customer subscribed to your emails. New subscribers will likely be interested in learning more about your company, so it might be a good idea to set up an onboarding email sequence that interests and engages them. They may have made a purchase recently, or they might have responded to an advertisement and been curious to discover more about you before they buy.

You’ll need to set up automation to update your new subscriber list on a regular basis. Make sure when someone signs up for your emails, they automatically get added to this list. Depending on the email marketing tool you use, you may also set up a system to automatically remove subscribers from this list after a set period of time.

 

3. Email engagement rate

When you’re doing email marketing, you want to make sure you’re hitting the right balance on how many emails you’re sending. You want to keep your customers engaged without spamming them. Instead of trying to strike that perfect line for all your customers, why not send them just as many emails as they want to see?

Segmenting your list by email engagement rate can help you give customers the contact they want – no more, no less. If someone engages more often with your emails, send them more frequent updates and messages. If someone only opens one email every few months, check in less often with bigger sales and events.

 

4. Satisfaction level

No matter how hard we try, no business is going to achieve a 100% customer satisfaction rate. Sending out happy, carefree emails to disgruntled customers can leave them feeling frustrated and unheard. But sending out emails with a more serious tone to customers who love what you’re doing may worry them.

Use your customer satisfaction data to segment your email list into different levels of approval. If a customer has been unhappy with you in the past, send emails that focus on transparency and making mistakes right. If a customer is on the fence, focus on showing them what your company is doing to win them over.

 

5. Past purchases

One of the best sources of information you have about your customers is what they’ve bought from you in the past. Purchase history can tell you a lot about what problems the customer has, what they’re interested in, and how often they purchase from you. Past purchases can be an amazing way to segment your email list for more personalized messaging.

If a group of clients has bought certain items in the past, why not send out an email promoting similar products? You can also show them items in a similar price point that resolve similar needs. If they’ve made more than one purchase, you may want to send out more frequent emails to keep them up to date on the latest from your company.

 

6. Spending budget

Another great way to divide out your marketing efforts is to separate customers with different spending budgets. If a customer has a lot of money to spend with you, you want to pull out all the stops with what your company has to offer them. But if their budget is a little more limited, you don’t want to show them items that are too expensive.

Look at previous purchase history and segment your customers into tiers based on average purchase amounts. For customers who buy one or two smaller ticket items, focus emails around sale events, goods that offer a lot of bang for their buck, and special discount codes. For the higher budget tiers, show off your bundle pricing, top-of-the-line items, and latest releases.

 

7. Location in your funnel

When a new lead first makes contact with your company, they should move into a sales funnel designed to guide them to a purchase. Your funnel should take them seamlessly from discovery to interest to product information to consideration to purchase. But how you market to a customer should vary depending on where they are in that funnel.

Segment your email list based on where customers are in your sales funnel. If they’ve just begun to explore your products, send them emails focused on the ways your products can solve their problems. If they’re in the consideration stage, consider sending them discount offers or VIP benefits.

 

8. Website activity

You can also gather a lot of information about customers’ interests and needs based on how they interact with your website. When your customers consent to sharing this information with you, you can track a customer’s movements through your site, and you could use that information to create segmented email lists based on what sort of pages a customer visits most often.

For example, if a customer is visiting clearance pages most often, send them information about sales and discounts. If they’re checking out your about and contact pages, reach out to them with your company story, values and contact information – it's an extra opportunity to send hyper-personalized emails. If they like browsing your overall product pages, send them an email highlighting some of your most popular goods and hottest deals. However, remember to make sure these practices are compliant with all relevant data privacy laws and regulations before you deploy them.

 

9. Date of last purchase

One great way to make emails feel personalized to each customer is to segment your list based on when they made their last purchase. Like your new subscriber and funnel location lists, this will need to be a constantly updated segment.

For instance, if someone made a purchase in the last week, send a follow-up email asking them to rate their experience with your buying process and your product. If they purchased a few months ago, why not let them know about the latest and greatest from your company? And if it’s been several months since they purchased something, consider sending them an invitation to come back and enjoy a discount or free gift with their next purchase.


Email segmentation is a fantastic way to make your email marketing feel personalized to each customer. You can meet them where they are, sending them the messages they need to hear at the time. This can improve your customer experience and keep your marketing ROI high.

To make sure that your email lists are always accurate and up-to-date, use PieSync to sync your email marketing tools with the rest of your tech stack. PieSync keeps your contacts in sync two ways and in real time between hundreds of applications, making sure your email lists have enriched information to build granular and relevant segments. Get started with a free trial today.

About Claudia Martinez

Claudia helps the marketing team by producing awesome blogs, case studies, ebooks, and newsletters. This tech-savvy writer is constantly searching for that great story behind the use case. She also loves working with our partners to create unique co-marketing campaigns.