Market Like a Mind Reader

personal marketingYou don’t need to visit a psychic to find out which subscribers will be pleased to receive your next email.

You can find out yourself by segmenting your list. Sorting subscribers into segments based on various criteria means you can send them the emails you know they want – all without reading their minds.

Your subscribers will be impressed not only by your apparent ESP, but by the customized quality of your emails.

You can segment your list in all kinds of ways, including how recently subscribers signed up, where they live and what preferences they’ve indicated on web forms or surveys.

Let’s practice your mind-reading skills now: below are six ways to segment your list. Which ones will let you send custom emails that your subscribers will appreciate?

Segment to Find Out What Readers Want

Online sign-up location.

You can guess a lot about a person based on the page of your site they sign up from. Should you email promos for women’s clothing or kids shoes? Healthy recipes or cafe coupons?

By applying ad tracking to your web forms, you’ll have more than a premonition to go on – you’ll be able to segment by subscribers’ “add” method.

Bonus: You get a glimpse of the nature of your audience this way, so you can create content you know will be well-received.

Personal interests.

You can also segment by subscribers’ interests. For example, your car dealership might want to see which subscribers drive which brands. You may also want to send broadcasts about those brands to those specific customers.

To find out what cars subscribers drive, create a custom field to add to your web form. This will cause it to appear in your subscriber search options. Simply search for the answer you’re looking for to create the segment you need.

segmenting in email

Survey results.

Subscribers may communicate their interests and preferences in surveys instead of on your web form. Don’t worry; you can still segment according to their answers.

For example, your real estate agency may want to email listings to your clients. Each client only wants listings for the neighborhoods they’re house-hunting in.

To make this happen, send out a survey asking clients to click on their neighborhoods of interest. Link each option back to a hidden page on your site. Then create segments according to which links were clicked.

engagement triggers in emails

Prospects vs. customers.

Segmenting helps you market differently to those who have bought from you and those who haven’t.

For example, you could send e-book customers suggestions for practically applying ideas from the book or recommend similar products. Prospects still have to be sold on the merits of making the purchase.

You can create these segments in AWeber by applying sales tracking and searching for any subscribers whose sale amount is greater than $0. And when you’re ready to email your customer segment, check out these content ideas.

sales tracking

Online vs. offline customers.

While customers who visit your store might be interested in on-site event announcements, online customers are more likely to prefer coupon codes.

As described above, online customers can be found with sales tracking. It’s just as easy to segment customers who signed up in your store. When you import them to your list, apply an ad tracking category (such as “in-store”). Then you can segment by the add method “import” and your chosen ad category.

offline import


With just a little effort, you can keep your messages appropriate across the globe. Segment based on driving distance to your location, seasonal and climate differences and the times your emails will arrive in each time zone.

Create a custom field that asks for location, then add it to your web form. Search subscribers by location to send each group the appropriate messages. If your readers marvel at your accuracy, just tell them you have a sixth sense for these things.

sign up form

How Much is Too Much?

How deeply you segment depends on how much time you can dedicate to customizing your emails. You may opt to segment only one way, or your list might benefit from a serious break-down. Some companies hyper-segment: for example, Cetaphil creates 400-3,000 versions per send.

So put down your crystal ball and pick up a pencil. Start brainstorming ways you can sort through your list to give each subscriber the experience you already know they’re looking for.

Because after all, you don’t have to be a mind reader to know there’s no such thing as too-relevant email.


  1. Jack Liang

    7/22/2010 9:25 am

    Email list segmenting with tags added through custom fields is a great feature, it allows me to target a specific crowd of my customers – like inactive follow ups or new customers.

    I do agree that sometimes you can over segment. More information about you contacts is always welcomed, but most of the time I only stick to a few because of time and resources limit I put to my email follow ups.

    Thanks for the post!

  2. Louisa Chan

    7/22/2010 10:14 am

    Hi Amanda,

    Thanks for the post.
    I use Ad Track to segment my list and I do not ask for more than email and name. In fact I sometimes only ask for email.

    I use segmentation to see which landing page perform better. I also use segmentation to see which event performs better (when I promote my online event using the same opt in form)

    Love to hear what ideas others have.

  3. Marc Mays

    7/22/2010 3:48 pm

    These are great suggestions for segmenting your list, but there is one *very* important one you may have overlooked:

    Segmenting by email open date / time!

    When you segment your list based on when your customers receive the message, you can better target MANY of your messages. Doing so helps with limited-time sales offers, upcoming teleseminars/conferences, surveys, and pretty much anything else which you want done within a certain time frame. Better still, it makes your customers happier.

    Explained differently, if you send someone an email for your teleseminar this afternoon, knowing full well that they won’t read it until this weekend, how is such a message different from spam? It’s a waste of the other’s person’s time, energy, and inbox space, not to mention your own time and energy.

    The best customers receive a LOT of email, and if you want them to take advantage of your offer (whatever it is), then it may benefit you to adjust to their schedules, instead of expecting them to adjust to yours, as many marketers seem to.

  4. William McCamment

    7/22/2010 4:23 pm

    Hi Amanda!

    As I was driving home this morning I started thinking about my new Aweber account. I wondered if you could segment lists based on certain criteria.

    Imagine my surprise when I logged into my email account and found this blog post waiting for me.

    You REALLY ARE a mind reader!

    Scary. 🙂

  5. Amanda Gagnon

    7/23/2010 8:22 am

    William ~ I really am! And now you are, too!

    Marc ~ We definitely recommend sending when your customers are most likely to want the message.

    The best way to do that is to pay attention to when your messages get opened most, then use send windows for follow-ups and set appropriate dates and times for each broadcast.

    Louisa ~ Nice strategies!

  6. Jennifer

    7/26/2010 9:09 am

    WOW, Amanda – a mind reader for sure.

    I was just watching a product launch and saw that the first e-mail went out to the complete list of 50000 subscribers (a successful marketer!)

    800 signed up for the webinar
    200 attended
    20 signed up

    So…. I’m left wondering whether the marketer sent follow-up e-mails across the board or was able to target the audience and split according to level of interest. I posed the question but didn’t get an answer. Then …

    you posted this post and NOW I know … magic behind the scenes moving subscribers from one list to another.

    And you even showed how to set it up. Thank you soooo much. something I hope to be able to use in the not too distant future 🙂

  7. Jamus McKenna

    7/29/2010 5:50 pm


    Thank you for your words of wisdom.

    I certainly know from my own experience being in the UK the vast amount of auto responders come through late at night because everyone assumes everyone else in in the US.

    I have not come across to many that actually ask where you are located and probably with good reason. The more field requirements you include generally lowers the opt-in rate.

    Marketers now are not even asking for names to try and increase these rates.

    Scary stuff.

  8. Tom Kulzer (AWeber CEO)

    7/30/2010 8:45 am


    With follow up messages being sent using "send windows" you don’t have to ask for the subscriber’s time zone. It can already be automatically estimated by the IP address they use to sign up from.

    The option that says "send messages based on each subscribers’ local time" is the one you want. It will target messages during the times that you specify for their local time zone. Thus no longer delivering messages in the middle of the night for UK subscribers or others around the world.

  9. Jamus McKenna

    7/30/2010 11:07 am


    One word: DANCER!

  10. Christina

    8/1/2010 10:39 am

    I’ve been hearing about Aweber for quite a while no and I think it’s about time I join in. Looks though it could help me a lot.

  11. Andre Stegplatten

    8/5/2010 7:23 am

    The article is very useful. Thank you amanda. Targeting my customers have never been this easy.

  12. How Personalized Emails Create Happy SubscribersInbox Ideas

    6/1/2011 9:48 am

    […] Continue to learn about your subscribers so you can provide them with more personalized emails. You can set up new custom fields, or start off with looking at their click through history. […]