Are You Marketing to the Right Audience?

Build better relationships. Keep subscribers engaged. Improve deliverability. Have these been hammered into your head yet? Probably, if you’ve been reading our blog for any length of time; it’s what separates the good email marketing campaigns from the bad ones.

You can easily make you campaign one of the good ones by creating emails that cater to your audience’s demographics as much as possible, while avoiding turning others off.

We’ll explain what we mean by that and how you can do this in your campaign.

First: Meet the Subscribers

To better illustrate our points, we’d like to introduce you to three special people:

Amanda, a 20 year old
student from Philadelphia.
Nick, a 36 year old marine
biologist from San Francisco.
Justin, a 67 year old
retiree from New York.

We’ll be looking at how each of these characters interacts with our examples.

Age Range and Email

Your subscribers may be young adults, senior citizens or somewhere in between… or maybe even a mix. The age range of your audience should reflect in your emails in your choice of:

  • Wording- Avoid internet slang (like ROFL or #something) if your audience is older or not Internet savvy.
  • References- Make sure any pop culture references are something your subscribers will recognize and appreciate.
  • Font size- If your audience includes seniors, try a font size 14pt or higher.

Let’s take a look at an email from Game Stop to see how the different subscribers react:

Amanda loves this email. In between studying for her classes, she loves to unwind playing her PS3. GameStop targeted her age range when creating this email.

Nick plays video games when his wife and kids go to sleep. His wife nags him about keeping up what she calls a childish hobby, so he feels a little angry that even GameStop is pointing out that he’s out of the target age range.

Justin is retired and now lives for his adventures in the video game world. He’s upset that GameStop keeps acting like games are just for kids. He beats those kids every day!

Solution for emails like this: If they’re going to send back to school sales or reference school, emails like this should be sent to a segment so the appropriate age range receives those emails. GameStop knows that older adults play video games (AWeber has a game room to prove that as well), so they shouldn’t risk alienating their older fans.

Location and Email

If you’re emailing about events at your business’s location, talk about localized interests (think sports teams) or ship products to your subscribers, you’ll need to think about where your subscribers are located.

All of these types of emails are more effective when you send them to the appropriate group. Take a look at this example from Adventure Aquarium:

Both Amanda and Justin live fairly close to the Aquarium, so they’re happy to know about this offer.

Nick, however, lives across the country. He signed up to this mailing list because he appreciated their conservation efforts, and likes to make donations. He’s getting a little sick of these emails that obviously aren’t catered to him, so he’s thinking about taking his donations to another aquarium.

Solution for emails like this: Segment subscribers based on proximity to the location. Subscribers that aren’t close by won’t feel like they’re getting emails that aren’t for them, reducing the risk of having a lot unsubscribe.

Gender and Email

Depending on your industry, you may find you have more female subscribers than male or vice versa. It might also be pretty evenly split.

PEW Internet Research found some interesting trends with regards to what men and women do online. Men go for the hard facts; they like the straightforward information. Women tend to be interested in searching for more personal connections, such as health tips or advice on personal issues.

Food Network, which most likely is pretty even on the male to female ration, handles this in a unique way. Some of their emails look like this:

Nick and Justin like these emails the best. The no-frills information appeals to their male brain.

Amanda enjoys getting new recipes, so she also appreciates these emails. They’re just not as appreciated as the other type of emails Food Network sends:

The focus on health food, along with discussions on what others think, makes this email appeal more to Amanda’s female brain.

Nick and Justin don’t mind these emails either; Nick is an athlete and Justin needs to eat healthy to stay healthy, so even though these emails sometimes seem a little too feminine to them, they still read them.

How appealing to both works: They’re doing a good job keeping both men and women happy, and never exclude one or the other in their emails. However, you can segment based on gender to see if you get better conversions.

How Do You Find Your Audience’s Demographics?

Even if you have an idea in your head about what demographics you’re dealing with, there’s no substitute for the facts. You should look at your current audience. So how do you find out what the demographics of your audience are?

What Demographics Matter To You?

Age, location and gender are just some of the things you can use to send more relevant emails. How do your audience’s demographics affect your campaign?


  1. Richard Myrick

    11/11/2011 2:04 pm

    I’m curious. What is the typical response ration to emails sent out when the email is a survey? I do not wish to bother my readers with surveys if they are not going to answer these demographic questions.

    Also, are there any laws we need to worry about with the types of demographics questions that are asked? I’m sure I’m not the only one that does not want to offend the readers by asking certain questions they deem over the line.


  2. Paul

    11/11/2011 4:22 pm

    I have recently started to pay far more attention to the demographics of my audience. Using the broadcast mailing option on Aweber. Has helped me to understand my subscribers better.

    I also use the stats from my Alexa account. That tell me (amongst other things) which age group and what part of England. Am I getting the most traffic to my blog from.

  3. Crystal Gouldey

    11/14/2011 10:05 am

    Richard- It’s hard to find a typical response ratio for surveys because there are so many variables involved (your industry, your audience, engagement with previous emails, etc.).

    That being said, the way to approach this without bothering/offending your subscribers is just be up front about what you’re trying to do. Let them know you want to learn more about them so you can send more relevant emails, and mention they are not required to give you any information if they don’t want to. When you emphasize that this is for them, they’ll be more likely to participate.

    Paul- that’s great news! Glad to hear you’ve had success with this.

  4. David Bueford

    11/17/2011 11:28 pm

    When reviewing page stats I’m always amazed by the number of visitors and the consistency of visits of those from outside the United States. That would be an interesting target audience.

  5. ikhsan

    12/22/2011 12:32 pm

    i use a widget in my site to collect my Audience