Start Segmenting: 3 Easy Steps

Every subscriber is a beautiful and unique snowflake.

Each one belongs to your list for different reasons. For every email you send, some might just not care. To avoid subscriber fatigue, each reader should be sent only the content they want.

But how can you find out what they want?

You can ask them. You can send them surveys or add fields to your sign-up form.

Or, you can use the following method to harness the data you already have.

Use Ad Tracking to Determine Subscribers’ Interests

Ad tracking shows which web page each subscriber signed up from. That page reveals their interests.

Segmenting by these interests lets you send each reader the emails they want most.

For example:

  • Your clothing store is having a sale on children’s clothes. You want to advertise the sale, but only to those readers who would be interested.So, you search for subscribers who used the web form on your site’s children’s clothing page. You segment that group, and send the broadcast to that segment.
  • Your toy store is having an event for children with special needs.You want to target subscribers who signed up through your special needs toys page, so you search by that ad tracking name and email only that segment.
  • You post your exercise blog on the same site as your nutritional supplement e-store. Your subscribers from both pages are added to your main list, which gets your weekly fitness newsletter.When items in your e-store go on clearance, you email the segment who signed up there. Your blog readers may only want helpful information, but your store visitors are probably prepared to make purchases.

Easy as 1, 2, 3…

Segmenting by sign-up form is easy to do. Just follow these ABCs…

1. Apply Ad Tracking names

First, apply an ad tracking label to each of your web forms. (You can also do this for people who subscribe by email.)

Click the “Web Forms” tab in the control panel navigation

After designing your form, click on the settings tab

Click “Show Advanced Settings” and create an ad tracking label for your form

2. Track your subscribers as they come in

As people subscribe, the form they sign up with will be noted. To see who came in where, search your subscribers by ad tracking category.

Select “Search” from the subscribers menu

Search by “Ad Category” and type in the ad tracking label you gave your form

3. Target subscribers based on each segment

Then, decide which forms you want to segment by and name each segment. Now when you send your messages, you can select the segments you want to target.

Name and save the segment created by searching a specific Ad Category

Create a broadcast message and select the segment from the drop-down menu

If you want to compare your web forms’ effectiveness and are not planning to segment, check out the ad tracking report for your list.

How do you segment?

Do you segment with ad tracking? What kinds of messages do you send to the different segments? Have you found that sending targeted messages affects your unsubscribe rate?

Your stories, as always, are valuable – to us and to your fellow readers. Please share them below.


  1. Gordon Halverson

    2/17/2010 10:37 am

    The three easy steps is a must for the newbies, like myself it provided a simple 123 process I can understand.

  2. James McCasland

    2/22/2010 6:07 pm

    This appears to be just the ticket!!!

  3. Gary Huynh

    2/24/2010 4:55 pm

    Taking the extra steps to track my subscribers has proven to be more profitable. I’m a stat junkie so this is a must do in my marketing.

  4. Jonathan Boettcher

    2/26/2010 12:07 am

    You know what I’d love to see? Being able to schedule autoresponders that only hit certain segments of a list and skip others. For example, depending on skill level, they would receive only some of the emails in the series. Currently I’d have to either use separate lists or use only broadcasts to achieve this….

  5. Jonathan Rozek

    2/28/2010 12:56 pm

    I absolutely agree with J. Boettcher. Segmentation is excellent, but why are we limited only to broadcasts? After all, long-term client relationships is the name of the game, and autoresponder sequences help to foster those relationships. Aweber’s going to have its lunch eaten by competitors who have recognized that segmentation is critical for both broadcasts and autoresponder campaigns.

  6. Vin

    2/28/2010 2:27 pm

    I second Jonathan Boettcher’s request. I would also like the ability to segment autoresponders.

    I offer all new subscribers different deals dependent on their Geo location. In order to catch new subscribers I have to manually issue a broadcast (segmented by IP) every week. This is taking too long and as a result I am seriously considering an alternative to Aweber.

    When will you offer segmented autoresponders?

  7. Amanda Gagnon

    3/1/2010 12:06 pm

    Jonathan, Jonathan and Vin ~

    Thanks for your suggestion. I can see how that ability would be useful.

    I’ll certainly pass it along!

  8. Michael

    3/2/2010 3:05 am

    Yes, I have been thinking this for a long time too.

    Segmentation needs to be able to effect the followup system.

    Another nice feature would be a faster way to edit and add followups.

  9. Market Like a Mind Reader

    7/22/2010 8:38 am

    […] applying ad tracking to your web forms, you’ll have more than a premonition to go on – you’ll be able […]

  10. Max

    7/25/2010 7:22 pm

    Hi Amanda,
    Has the segmentation within autoresponders become part of the offering yet?
    How can we use customer purchases within a “store” – can this somehow be built into the sign-up form during checkout – if this is already available do you know what carts play nicely with Aweber for this?

  11. Justin

    7/26/2010 11:42 pm

    I think segmentation is excellent too, but also agree that it would be great if we could do segmented automated campaigns. We might want to make a special offer to our long-term clients, for example a reactivation campaign just as their individual memberships nears an end.

    Thanks for everything else anyway guys, I am sure it is only a matter of time before this is possible too.

  12. Segmenting: The #1 Sales Technique

    7/27/2010 8:15 am

    […] of our most informative segmentation posts to help you turn your campaign into a selling machine. Start Segmenting: 3 Easy Steps If you have more than one web form on your website and you’d like to track which form pulls […]

  13. Lou

    7/29/2010 1:08 pm

    Love your tutorials and tips – keep ’em coming!

    Autoresponder segmentation is an excellent suggestion.

    Another suggestion/request — I have subscribers on multiple sublists that have a particular “tag”, and currently need to repeat the search-segment-broadcast process you’re describing for each sublist. Would be great to apply the segmentation filter to multiple lists.

  14. D G

    8/15/2010 9:04 am

    Agree with the feature requests above.

    Q: Does the method above automatically continue to add people to a segment once you set it up?

    If not, here’s another suggestion: What if we were able to create a segment BEFORE someone actually signs up and then create a form that automatically sends someone to that segment.

  15. Amanda Gagnon

    8/16/2010 8:54 am

    Justin and Lou ~ Request is noted. Thank you!

    DG ~ Yes, if you segment by criteria on a web form, when someone with that criteria signs up, they’ll be added to that segment.

  16. Steve Weissmann

    10/7/2010 12:18 pm

    Can I delete old segments? I’m starting to have a lot of them pile up.

    Also, can I split test a segment? That would be ideal!

  17. Amanda Gagnon

    10/7/2010 1:59 pm

    Steve ~ Yes, you can delete segments by going to your subscriber search page, clicking the "View Segments" drop down and selecting the segment you want, then hitting the red "Delete" button.

    When you create a split test broadcast, a random segment is formed, so you can’t select any other segments. But thanks for the suggestion!

  18. Anthony Carter

    11/7/2010 1:39 pm

    I also would like to be able to segment the autoresponder messages. One website that I am using a list for is all about relationship advice. In my case, I would like to segment by gender, and have autoresponder messages sent to individuals based on whether or not they are male or female. For example, I don’t want a message that includes tips or product reviews specifically for women to go to the men on my list and vice versa.

    While I am already collecting their gender in the form, that information isn’t of much use other than for broadcast messages, which I don’t use nearly as often. Currently, I have been simply using the subject line of the autoresponder message to let the subscriber know "this one is for the ladies," for example, but I’d much rather have the subscriber only receive those messages that are of interest to them specifically.

  19. Amanda Gagnon

    11/8/2010 10:11 am

    Anthony ~ I’m forwarding your suggestion. In the meantime, what if, in the place you currently have your sign-up form displayed, you instead showed an invitation to sign up with one link for women and another for men?

    When they click the appropriate link, they’re taken to a web form for one of two lists. One list has your man-messages; the other has messages for women.

    And when you send broadcasts, you could simply include both lists.

  20. Anthony Carter

    11/15/2010 8:15 pm

    Thanks for the feedback on my comment. The idea makes sense, but it involves redesigning the web page that the form is currently used on along with creating two entirely new pages, one for the male list form and one for the female list form.

    Is it possible that there is something that I can include in the html-based web form that will do as follows:

    If the male radio button is selected upon submission of the form, add user information to "male" list, for example. And, the same concept for if the female radio button is selected?

  21. Amanda Gagnon

    11/16/2010 11:01 am

    Anthony ~ Actually, if you’ve got some basic HTML skills, you can do that. Here are the instructions.

  22. Anthony Carter

    11/16/2010 5:54 pm

    Thank you. I believe this will work nicely for what I need to do.

  23. Cheryl Jones

    1/2/2011 11:06 pm

    I have a question about segmenting. If you have a segment and it is a portion of a larger list and you want to stop using the segment and delete it, if you delete the segment, will all the people on that segment be deleted from your main list as well?

    I see that in the advanced search I can go down to the segment and hit the delete button, but I don’t want to do that unless I know it will not delete people who are on both my main list as well as the segment.

    I just want the segment to be deleted, but still retain all those people who are part of the segment on my main list.

  24. 3 Surefire Reasons to Use Animated GIFs In Your Email Marketing

    3/15/2011 8:50 am

    […] animated message can help you appeal to lots of different people without bothering with segmenting and using advanced email analytics. (This is especially good if you’re just starting out and […]

  25. CF

    7/7/2011 2:17 am

    Checking affiliate stats can be another good idea:

    Even if you do receive good stats from your affiliate program it still makes sense to use tracking URLs so that you can compare your figures with theirs.

  26. R. Brad White

    12/4/2011 11:41 pm

    Amanda, two questions.

    1) Is there a way to create a segment for anyone who has clicked on any link on any broadcast? I’ve sent 20+ broadcasts, and the segment I want to create is about ANY clicks…I don’t care which broadcast they clicked in.

    2) After I create a segment (of say opens or clicks in a given broadcast), how can I add people to that same segment for say a different broadcast? It seems like it just keeps creating new segments…when I really just want to keep adding to the original segment.

  27. Chris

    11/12/2012 3:30 pm

    Any updates on setting an autoresponder to a segment?

  28. Rebekah Henson

    11/13/2012 8:20 am

    Chris – We don’t offer that feature at this time, but I’ve noted your request. Thanks for your comment!