The Top 7 Questions Everyone Has about Email List Segmentation
As a member of AWeber’s award-winning Customer Solutions team, my teammates and I field more than 700 calls, emails and chats from customers every day. We answer questions about account setup, email marketing basics, best practices, content creation and website optimization.
But one of the most popular topics we’re asked about: segmentation.
That’s why I’ve compiled a list of the most commonly asked questions about segmenting your list. Let’s take it from the top.
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1. What is segmentation?
Segmentation is the process of separating your subscriber list into smaller, organized subgroups based on their interests, behaviors or characteristics.
2. Why should I use segmentation?
Your subscribers aren’t all the same. By segmenting, you can easily send them content they actually care about! This personalization can lead to higher open and click-through rates, lower unsubscribe rates, better deliverability and more conversions than non-segmented lists. In fact, segmented emails can drive up to 77 percent of your overall email ROI, according to the Direct Marketing Association.
Here’s a simple way to think about it: Your master list of subscribers is a rainbow. Each color — or subgroup — wants to hear from you. However, blue may not want to read the same content as yellow. By segmenting your list, you can send targeted emails just to your blue subgroup or your yellow subgroup. Everyone is happy!
3. Does segmenting my list mean people will miss out on my content?
Technically, yes, but that isn’t a bad thing.
Your subscribers want to be sent content that’s relevant to them. So if they signed up for info about basset hounds, you better not send them content about geckos.
With segmentation, you no longer have to send generic messages to your email list and cross your fingers that some of your subscribers will be interested. Now, you can craft the right content for the right customers at the right times. Do this well, and it won’t take long for a customer to make a purchase.
4. How does segmentation help grow my list?
By separating your list into segments, you get to know and understand your customers. You can track a group’s click-through and open rates. Learn what subject lines a segment liked or hated. Or, figure out the best CTAs (calls to action) that lead to a purchase.
All this individualized data will help you constantly hone and improve your content for a better customer experience. This helps build your reputation as a subject matter expert and solidifies your relationship with your subscribers.
It’ll also help you bring in more prospects.
For instance, you could use segmentation data to create more targeted lead magnets to draw in new subscribers.
Let’s say you’re a digital marketer with a segmented list for readers who want info on “Facebook advertising.” Whenever you send an email about “Facebook video marketing” to that segment, however, your open and click-through rates go through the roof!
Armed with this knowledge, you create a free webinar about Facebook video marketing and target people searching for info on Facebook advertising. Now, you’ve tapped into a whole new audience to consume your content.
5. What information should I use to segment my list?
You can segment your list using any subscriber data available to you. For instance, you could have a mailing list for people who want to receive messages in iambic pentameter every third Thursday of the month. If those are truly your readers’ preferences, segment away!
But if you’re just getting started with segmentation, you probably want to break up your master list based on at least one of the following data points:
- Demographics (age, hometown, location, job, gender)
- Behaviors (purchase history, opens, click-throughs, website browsing)
- Interests (hobbies, causes, opinions)
- Entry point (sign up form, lead magnet, social media)
- Email preferences (message time and frequency; mobile or desktop)
- Skill level (beginner, intermediate, advanced)
- Marketing funnel location (new customer, repeat customer)
(For even more segmentation options, read 16 Ways to Segment Subscribers and Boost Engagement.)
At AWeber, we rely heavily on “email preference” segmentation for some of our lead magnets. For example, our customers choose how often they’d like to receive emails during What to Write, a free course that teaches you how to craft engaging automated, survey and sale emails. The course sign up form allows people to select their email frequency:
When you click on the “How often would you like to receive the lesson emails?” drop down menu, you can choose from the following options:
Based on what you choose, you’ll receive the seven lessons at different frequencies. That means you can complete the course in three, seven or 14 days, depending on your schedule and time commitment.
And since subscribers are tagged in AWeber based off their frequency choice on the course sign up form, we can then create segments from those tags and send targeted emails:
For example, we could send an email exclusively to people who chose to receive one lesson email each day and ask them if they’d like to receive a different daily email course that we offer.
6. Can I segment my list based on product purchases?
Yes — and we highly recommend you do.
Segmentation lets you cross-sell a customer other products they may be interested in. If he or she bought your training guide, follow up with them a few days later to say “thanks.” About a week later, send them a list of other similar training guides they may like.
You can also upsell. At the time of purchase or right afterward, you can offer “premiums” or “exclusive memberships.” These add-ons increase the average revenue of each sale. The purchase shouldn’t be the end of your transaction with a customer — it should be the beginning.
7. Can I use segmentation to see who is engaging with my content?
Yes. In AWeber, you can automatically tag people if they click on a link in a message, open an email or visit an order page. Then, you can build segments based off tags or automatically deliver automated campaigns to subscribers with a specific tag. This lets you send targeted content to people based on where they are in your sales funnel.
As you start building more complex funnels, a subscriber’s movements can become automated. They may switch from one automation series to another depending on what links they clicked, what emails they opened (or didn’t open) or what products they purchased (or didn’t purchase).
You can also do this by checking in every few weeks with your customers to keep your segments up to date. Plus, it gives you even more data to work with. I recommend asking questions like:
- What topic do you want to learn about next: basset hounds or geckos?
- Do you have any additional questions about X, Y or Z?
- Are you still enjoying a message from me every day? Yes or No?
Segmentation is also a great way to see who is not engaging with your content. You can segment out your subscribers who haven’t opened an email in, say, six months with AWeber’s new Open Automations tool. Then you can try to win them back by triggering a re-engagement campaign. After all, it’s a lot less work to reach out to a current subscriber than it is to add a new one.
To learn more, check out these great examples of re-engagement campaigns.
Now it’s your turn. Are you using segmentation yet? If yes, how? If not, how do you plan to use it?