Looking to connect with your audience in a way that feels personal, but scalable? Email segmentation helps marketers build targeted, personalized emails that feel more like one-on-one conversations than spam. 

Segmentation is a powerful tool that lets you group contacts by qualities that are important to your brand, like location or purchase history. This lets you use your data to gain deeper insight into subscribers and make sure you’re sending the right emails to the right customers.

But where do you begin? When the possibilities are endless, it can feel overwhelming to decide which segments you should build. And you probably don’t have unlimited bandwidth – you need to carefully choose how you spend your time, and what strategies to test when it comes to your marketing. Ultimately, the best email strategies tie directly back to your company’s goals. Use these as a jumping-off point to determine what’s important to your brand, and then reflect on your current and prospective customers to build your segments. 

Here, we’ve broken down the questions you can ask to decide which email segments are right for your brand:

How do your customers naturally group?

First, you’ll want to look at your current customer base. How do your customers naturally group?  Are there obvious demographics that stand out from the pack? And do these groups behave in any specific way? 

You might have customers in Australia that love beachwear. Maybe half of your customers are students. Or your product is popular with pet owners. You’re likely familiar with these different personas already.

You’ll want to identify these groups and add them to segments based on their defining attributes (e.g. demographics or purchase behavior). Another way to think about these segments is to use them for the things you have to track over and over, and the people you send to repeatedly.

What does email engagement look like for you?

Segmenting your subscribers based on their email engagement is a fundamental piece in a strong segmentation strategy. Subscriber engagement dictates how ISPs rate your sender reputation, and therefore your overall deliverability.

Thinking about segmentation by engagement level will help you prune out unengaged and inactive subscribers, maintain a healthy list, and make sure your emails land in inboxes. But when segmenting on email engagement, you’ll need to determine what engagement is actually meaningful for your brand. 

Are you looking at opens? Clicks? Article reads? How often do you want the average subscriber to be engaging with your content? The types of engagement you use as metrics for your email marketing should lead your segmentation strategy. 

Then, you can send more frequent content and special offers to your most engaged subscribers, and build automation to win back your inactive subscribers.

How do you plan to use your segments?

The segmentation options are endless. You can segment based on your highest-value purchasers, send campaigns built for different interest groups, or retarget subscribers who engaged with a specific email. 

When deciding which email segments are right for your brand, you need to consider how you’ll be using them. Segments can be multi-purpose, acting as triggers for automations like welcome or win-back series, or offering deeper insight into customer data. Or maybe you’re hoping to power one-off email marketing campaigns.

In all likelihood, you’re hoping to achieve some combination of the above. No matter how you’re hoping to use your initial segments, it’s important to keep how you’ll be using them in consideration when deciding what to build. This way, you can focus on the segments that will actually help you achieve your goals. 

What’s your capacity? 

The sky may be the limit when it comes to segmentation, but your marketing team can only do so much. You’ll have to look at how much bandwidth your organization has to focus on email marketing when deciding which segments to build. 

Your bandwidth will affect the complexity and scale of your segmentation strategy since you’ll be designing campaigns that target these segments on an ongoing basis. Based on this, you can determine if you’d like to segment on your most important groups or if you want to get more intricate. 

Do you have time to build that automation you’re hoping to trigger, or should you start with individual campaigns? Do you have the manpower to build campaigns for your smaller demographics, or should you focus exclusively on your heavy hitters?

No matter what, any level of segmentation will improve your email marketing strategy and ROI.

Now get started!

Don’t let segmentation intimidate you. Start small and work your way up – segmentation is a powerful email marketing tool to help boost subscriber engagement and revenue, even in small doses.

~ Anna

Anna Cunningham is the Content Marketing Manager at Hive.co, a data-driven email marketing CRM that gives brands deeper insight into customer behavior so they can sell more. She creates content that fuels customer experiences across all marketing channels.