Without Segmentation, You’re Training Your Audience To Ignore You

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email segmentation

Recent articles have pointed to email marketing as a powerful medium; maybe even more so than social media.

However, it’s surprising to me that so many marketers are still ignoring one of the single most important tactics used by successful email marketers: Segmentation.

Segmenting is the process of putting subscribers into “buckets” or categories so they may be specifically marketed to with a product or service they show an interest in.

If you aren’t currently using segmentation tactics with your email marketing, you’re probably training your audience to ignore you.


Why You Need Segmentation

You need segmentation because blanket emailing your audience with every newsletter, webinar, training event, blog post, etc. can get really old.

Depending on how often you’re sending email blasts out, you could be emailing them several times a week … about things they have absolutely no interest in.

segmentation nightmare

So instead of playing a guessing game with your list, nurture and prune it by sending targeted emails to specific sub-groups within your email list.

Use Tags & Categories

It’s important to note the two best friends of segmentation: tags and categories. Categories are the main buckets you’ll use to label a contact. Think of them as folders on your computer. Some recommended categories for tags are:

Categories are the main buckets you’ll use to label a contact. Think of them as folders on your computer. Some recommended categories for tags are:

Some recommended categories for tags are:

  • Prospects
  • Behavior
  • eSubscriptions (if you have an online newsletter)
  • Events (think online and offline)
  • Interests
  • Customers

Once you have your categories, you can subdivide these into tags. Here are some suggested tags to go with the above-mentioned categories:

  • Prospects > Hot (warm and/or cold)
  • Behavior > Clicks (triggered when a subscriber clicks on something)
  • Behavior > Web forms (triggered when a user fills out a web form)
  • eSubscriptions > Newsletter (or direct mail if you use it)
  • Events > Webinar
  • Interests > Topic (i.e.: Email Marketing, Social Media or Advertising)
  • Interests >  Product A (replace “Product A” with your product)
  • Customers > Service A (replace “Service A” with your service)

These are just some examples – most of which I personally use. You can create whatever you like and get very creative!

Where To Segment: Two Tips

Landing Pages & Web Forms

Start with your marketing magnet or lead capture. Are you segmenting prospects on your landing form or squeeze page?

You may not always be able to do this, but in many cases, you can.

For instance, let’s pretend you have a webinar coming up. On that landing page or squeeze box, I’d do this:

  • Use radio or check boxes to allow users to sign up for future webinars. Example: “I’d love to be notified of future webinars!”
  • Behind the scenes, when users check this box, you can tag this person with “Event > webinar interest” (you may have to do this manually depending on your CRM; ours does this automatically)
  • For future webinars, you can pull a list by the “webinar interest” tag and anyone with this tag will be pulled into a sub list
  • This list WANTS to hear about your webinars


Let’s say you have a suite of new products that you’re launching. You can certainly blast your entire list on this one since the products are new.

However, moving forward, you’ll run the risk of fatigue if you keep pestering your entire audience.

Instead, try doing this:

  • Set up links within your email to pages about Product A, B and C; send to your entire list
  • When links are clicked inside of your email, set up goals to tag people where they’ve clicked. Example: Clicked link to Product A info page, tag with “Interests > Product A”
  • Do the same with the other products; this means people can gain up to three tags if you’re promoting three products (Product A, B and/or C)
  • Moving forward, when you want to send an email regarding Product A, you can pull a list of all subscribers tagged with “Interests > Product A”
  • This is very specific, but the more specific you are with segmenting, the better open and click-through rates (CTRs) you’ll start to see

Those are just two of MANY ways to start segmenting your email lists. Do you segment? Do you have super secret ninja tricks when it comes to segmenting? Let me know in the comments below!


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Brooke B. Sellas is the in-the-trenches Founder & CEO of @HelloBSquared, an award-winning social media, advertising, and social media customer care agency. She's also the author of Conversations That Connect -- a book all about social listening and social media customer care. Brooke's marketing mantra is “Think Conversation, Not Campaign” so be sure to give her a shout on the socials!
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