Everything You Need to Know About Email List Segmentation

Customers need more of an incentive than ever before to open and respond to emails. Customizing your message to the reader’s specific needs and interests has been a proven way to increase open and conversion rates. Here is everything you should know about setting up list segments to personalize your emails. Posted on Friday, February 2 in Breaking Through the Clutter, Building Your Brand, Increasing Sales, Making Your Marketing Work, Reaching The Right Audience.

Customers need more of an incentive than ever before to open and respond to emails. But simply using the customer’s first name is turning into the cheap parlor trick of marketing these days. Instead customizing your message to the reader’s specific needs and interests has been a proven way to increase open and conversion rates.

Pique customer interest by customizing the message to their location, or a product that relates to their industry or interest. Here is everything you should know about setting up list segments to personalize your emails. But first, let’s take a step back to review what it means to personalize an email in your next marketing campaign.

Email list segmentation means each recipient group gets a unique message


What is Personalized Email Marketing?

Personalized emails have been shown to increase open rates by 26%. The goal is to have the reader feel as though you are speaking directly to them, and cater to their individual needs. Of course, it’d be ridiculous to reach out to hundreds, let alone thousands of customers individually. Instead, we take a shortcut by grouping customers with common interests or demographics, and send a unique message to each group.

Remember Mad Libs? Think of your next mass email as a series of phrases with blanks that your email builder will automatically fill in for you. But instead of nouns, verbs and adjectives, you designate the blanks to be the columns of your email list database, such as first name, geographic region, industry, or if the entry is residential or commercial.

Personalized email marketing increases open rates by 26%


What is Email Segmentation?

Email list segmentation is a process in which data is used to group email addresses by points that reflect a common demographic or interest. Segment lists can then be refined by additional data, such as predicted email response data, open rates, or purchase behaviors to further customize the message for existing list segments and new ones. Studies show that of a pool of marketers who used email list segmentation, 39% saw increased email open rates, 34% had greater relevance to the user's interest, 28% saw less unsubscribes, 24% had more leads, and 18% had more sale transactions as a direct result. 

Take note of what type of customers are the most valuable for you to send a unique message to. Do you want to reach customers in southern states? Stand out to Gen X’ers? Remind recent purchasers of an upcoming sale? Use the information you’ve collected in your email database to sort your list into these groups.

If, for example, you collect the person’s date of birth when they sign up for your emails, you could find all of the customers born between 1961 and 1981, and label them as “Gen X” in a new column, and everyone else as “Other”. These are two email segments. You can now send a slightly different message to Gen X’ers than you would to anyone else. Your can segment your email list into many layers to suite your needs.

The benefitial results of email list segmentation


How to Maintain Your Email List Segments

It’s considered best practice to perform segmented email list maintenance before starting the personalization process. Doing so will make your message more consistent from reader to reader, and are more likely to send without error. The more you prepare your database for adding new prospects and segmenting the current list, the more fliud it will be to create a unique message for each segment. With practice, you will get comfortable targeting different segments and reaping the benefits.

  • Check that new entries are added to the correct segment. As more customers get added to your email list, make sure that they are also updated in the applicable segments. Sophisticated email list management systems will do this automatically. Older email lists, or lists maintained in Excel require routine, manual updates.
  • Delete or correct invalid email addresses. Delete email addresses from your list that are clearly fake or entered as a way to avoid submitting this required field.
  • Check for common typos or errors. To do this in excel, you could use conditional formatting to highlight any cell that does not contain “@”. Sometimes people leave out the “.com” or “.org”. For example: “firstname.lastname@gmail” will not receive emails. If the email is missing one of these pieces, simply add it in.
  • Ensure your database’s fields are complete. Remove nonsense values such as “?”, “NONE”, “N/A” where an empty cell suffices. For example, an entry may show their Employer Name as “none”. Email builders do not know the difference between not having an employer vs. having an employer named “none”. It only sees the string of text. Removing the value entirely lets the builder detect that there is in fact no employer name available.
  • Check capitalization. To avoid accidentally sending an awkward salutation (“Hello MRS. smith,”) check that your capitalization is consistent for each column and in your email message.

Customers need more than a one-size-fits all approach to open and respond to your emails. Personalization and specific email segments are a manageable way to target your customers by the needs and interests that are most important to them.

Maintain email databases to keep up with accurate segmentation


Trust the Experts of Email Marketing

Email marketing segmentation is a powerful strategy to reach your audience. It can also seem like a can of worms for beginners. Start small, with simple list segmentations based on the data you already have. When you are comfortable dividing your list into segments, consider adding fields to be collected, or diving into more layers of segmentation.

The Free Press Media team in Burlington is the digital marketing agency you can rely on to get you started. Our experts can help analyze what email segments will best suite your email marketing campaign, how to separate and maintain these lists, and deliver a successful email marketing strategy. We specialize in an integrated approach an best practices for small to mid-sized businesses. Visit our team in Burlington, Vermont, or contact us today to set up a free consultation with your businesses’ personal account manager.

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