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How to Segment Your Email List for Better Engagement

Chris Christoff
Chris Christoff

Target the right subscribers, give customers what they want, and encourage them to engage with your brand.

Email marketing is one of the most valuable strategies you can use to boost sales. Not only does it open a direct line of communication between you and your subscribers, but it encourages engagement, introduces users to your brand and drives traffic to your website. 

How do you create campaigns that help your brand reach its goals? It isn't as simple as sending weekly newsletters and expecting the conversions to flow in. You need a strategy in place that targets the right subscribers, gives them what they want and encourages them to engage with your brand. When you use segmentation, this is possible.

Email segmentation is when you divide subscribers based on different criteria, such as purchase history, buying behavior and location. The DMA National Client Report found that 77% of email marketing's return on investment (ROI) comes from segmented, targeted and triggered campaigns. If you aren't segmenting your emails based on the different pieces that comprise your audience, you're missing out on increased user engagement and conversions. Segmentation provides personalization, which makes your brand stand out from the rest.


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If you want to segment your email list for higher engagement, you need to follow these steps:

  1. Create detailed customer profiles.
  2. Choose how to segment your list.
  3. Write compelling, attention-grabbing content.
  4. Test your campaigns.

Let's dive further into these tips so you can segment your email list like a pro.

1. Create buyer personas.

Imagine trying to segment your email list when you aren't even sure what kind of customers you have in the first place. Pretty difficult, right? However, personalized emails deliver six times higher transaction rates than generic emails, so it's worth it to perform research and collect data. 

If you expect to own a business that thrives, it's your job to know your customers inside and out. How you respond to their needs determines the overall performance of your business and how quickly it reaches its objectives. When an issue arises, you'll find it challenging to solve, because you don't know how to cater to their needs. 

If you want to know your audience better, create buyer personas, or detailed customer profiles. They tell you things like demographics, buying behaviors, interests and pain points. These details help you segment your email list by defining which segments need which content. 

Using this information, you can divide customers into categories based on how you'd segment them for your email list. This will keep you organized and make it much easier to create a personalized email marketing strategy for individual customers.

How do you find this information about your target audience? There are a few ways to start:

  • Scour social media. Customers love to share their experiences, positive and negative, with friends and family on social media. By searching industry hashtags and key phrases, you'll find a plethora of information about your industry and what your customers need.
  • Email existing subscribers. Do you already have an email list you can work with? Take advantage of it by sending your subscribers a survey about what they want to see from your brand, what they're struggling with and how your business can do better.
  • Research your competitors' audience. If you don't have enough information of your own to work with, look at your competitors. Everyone should monitor their competition to gauge what they're doing right and wrong so they can learn from it.
  • Review your website data and analytics. What webpages gain more traffic than others? Where are your visitors spending more and less time? Where are they most engaged? This data helps you determine where to refine your strategy for better results. 

2. Choose your segments.

Depending on what you come up with when creating your buyer personas, you'll see which segments you can create for your email list. Use this knowledge to gauge which segments might be most beneficial to your business and help it grow. For most brands, this takes the trial and error of monitoring data to see what results in the most ROI. 

Base segments on the specific action you want your subscribers to take. Do you want them to buy your product? Leave a review? In this case, you want to increase user engagement, so keep your end goal in mind when creating your segments.

Here are a few categories you can use to split your email list:

  • Location
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Buying behaviors
  • Education level
  • Past purchases
  • Lack of engagement

3. Craft compelling content.

Regardless of the criteria you choose to base your segmentation on, it's essential to craft your content well. You must keep your target audience in mind when brainstorming how to reach subscribers.

Each person on your email list is at a different stage of the sales funnel. One person might already be a paying customer, while another recently opted in and wants to learn more about your brand. When creating email copy, write content that speaks to where that subscriber is in the funnel. 

When creating email content, make it skimmable with headers, subheaders and bullet points. Add visuals (where it makes sense) to spice it up. Make the focus of the emails your subscribers and how your content, products, and services benefit them rather than stating your features. Write an attention-grabbing headline that persuades them to click through.

Consider your brand image when creating your content. If it doesn't match your business's voice or tone, it mars your image and throws off readers. If the copy on your website is casual and conversational, but your emails are serious and professional, you'll see a spike in unsubscribers and less engagement. Your visitors subscribed to you because they like your brand, so it's important to align your email copy with it. 

4. Test your campaigns.

Once your emails are sent out, it's time to sit back and wait for the results. In a lot of ways, this is the most important part, because it tells you if the levels of engagement you want are there or if they're suffering. It also tells you what other aspects need fine-tuning so your next campaign will perform exponentially better.

Use A/B testing to determine which components worked and which didn't. Only change one element of your campaign at a time. If you're testing multiple things at once, it's near impossible to tell what's increasing or decreasing engagement.

Depending on what you want to test, these are several of the components you can split-test and track:

  • Subject line
  • Sender name
  • Design
  • Landing page
  • Personalization
  • Call to action

Going the extra mile to segment your email list will do wonders for your business. Your customers do not want the same thing; they use your products or services for different reasons. Different people make up your subscriber base, and you have to take that into account when crafting your brand's emails. How you cater to your audience via email marketing determines how they interact with you and whether they become loyal customers.

How will you segment your email list to increase engagement?

Image Credit: SFIO Cracho/Shutterstock
Chris Christoff
Chris Christoff Member
Co-Founder of MonsterInsights, the leading WordPress plugin for Google Analytics.