Tips on How to Segment Your Mailing List


Shelly Cochran

Apr 3, 2023


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Segmenting your mailing list is the next logical step in your effort to engage a subscriber base. Do you know how to segment your mailing list effectively?

What Does Segmenting Your Lists Actually Mean?

Sending emails to different segments

You have spent considerable time crafting various types of email communications for subscribers. Customers may have signed up for newsletters, offered their contact information because of a call to action in a blog post, or signed up for promotions. Over time, your originally small group has grown into a list of customers with very different needs throughout the sales funnel.

Email marketing campaigns lose some effectiveness because recipients’ needs are so diverse. Segmented emails are the practice of dividing your master list into smaller groups of individuals. However, there’s more to learning how to segment your mailing list than simply making mathematical divisions. Expertly segmented lists have the potential to boost click-through rates. That said, the reverse is also true.

Choosing a Segmentation Strategy

To connect with the right people at the right times, segment your list based on various options that work well for your business.

  1. Interests. Sometimes, you know which products or services appeal to your customer base because they told you. These may be the subscribers who interact with you on social media, answer poll questions, or fill out questionnaires.
  2. Preferences. Depending on the setup of your email signup, your customers might also disclose their interests from the beginning. If you send out multiple newsletters to customers, narrowing down the mailing lists along the line of noted preferences is an excellent starting point.
  3. Purchase history. Occasionally, an email address is associated with a prior purchase. Even though this customer hasn’t disclosed any specific interests, they’ve revealed which products and services appeal to them the most through their purchase history. The purchase history is also an excellent opportunity to focus on segmenting your email list based on possible future needs.

Why Sending Emails to Segmented Email Lists Makes Sense

Back then, you were just happy to get the ball rolling and get signups. However, since your company grew and you offered new options for your customers, the makeup of the email recipients is now more homogenous. You now have the dilemma of dealing with customers with vastly different needs and wants.

Because target emails are the key to growing the company, a logical segmentation is the right step. You can now target the interests of each segment. If you make a mistake here, there’s a good chance that recipients won’t open your emails or even unsubscribe from your list.

Taking Email List Segmentation to the Next Level

Laptop with 4 different segments

So far, we’ve discussed the needed entry-level knowledge that explains how to segment your mailing list. It’s an excellent starting point for the next level, where you can manipulate the segments to meet your goals of moving customers along the sales funnel. Also, going through the segments based on interests, purchase history, and interests to make additional groupings is vital to guarantee that your customers find your emails relevant to them.

Insiders have found that something as simple as reducing segments to no more than 35 subscribers can significantly boost your open rates and reduce unsubscribe requests. While it doesn’t make sense to target an email to each individual, it is possible to do so to smaller groupings. Best of all, once you narrowly define the segment elements, it’s easy to move customers between the groups as needed.

Careful Curation is Needed Even After You Segmented Your Email List

Curating an email list is challenging if you’re busy selling products or services. The same goes for the business owner or manager who’s also dealing with human resources issues and the overall upkeep of the facility. (Have you been asked to develop creative office break room ideas?) An excellent email marketing platform can make a big difference.

It cuts down on the time you spend learning to segment your mailing list and lets you get to work. We’ve already discussed a basic segmentation model: interests, preferences, and purchase history. Now, you can segment these groups even further.

  1. Be location-specific. Sure, you sell widgets all across the country. Knowing where your customers are located can pinpoint your marketing efforts for success. Besides that, a newsletter that references a location, climate, or area-specific situation is an excellent way to define your company’s relevance to this email segment.
  2. Ask subscribers for input. You might have done so once. Why not do it again? Your customers’ needs change, and remaining relevant to them through the ups and downs of their business is critical to your success. Give subscribers an opportunity to add to their basic subscriptions at any time. It’s a great way to guide them through the sales funnel.
  3. Follow up on browsing behavior. Sometimes, buying behavior and browsing behaviors differ. Browsing history and even abandoned carts indicate potential future needs your customer is developing. Take advantage of this data by placing a customer in multiple groups.

A sub-segment of your email list could focus on your relationship with the business. For example, you sell widgets. Set up lists for suppliers, brick-and-mortar vendors, customers, influencers, and altruistic endeavors. It lets you connect with the person who sells your products which is bound to have different needs from the customer who buys directly from you.

Similarly, influencers want to be on the cutting edge and are the ones who can be testers of new products. If someone only knows you from your donations to non-profit organizations, you have another segment that you would address different from the repeat buyer.

Post-purchase online survey

The post-purchase survey is an excellent segmentation tool that many retailers and service providers have picked up on. You’ve gotten them. They ask, “how are we doing?” You get to weigh in on customer service, the speed of receiving a product, or the problems you had along the way. These surveys are not just suitable for improving the customer experience. They’re also suitable for sorting customers into email segments. Someone with many problems with your business needs to be marketed differently than a happy customer who has become a brand ambassador.

Today’s a Great Day to Segment an Email List

It seems like a huge task, but is it really worth it? Well, the answer is Yes! We’ve already talked about higher click-through rates and fewer unsubscribers. However, another added benefit to this practice is an increased open rate. Instead of leaving your email closed until a better time, the reader will be so interested in your offer that they’ll open it immediately. This interest easily affects conversion rates. The customer checks something out on your website, making them much more likely to complete a purchase. Typically, higher conversion rates lead to more sales. 

If you’re a business owner or manager who doesn’t have time to segment your mailing list, you should get someone to help. At E-Marketing Associates, our mission is to help small businesses grow. So if you need help segmenting your mailing list, or you’re looking for a person who designs websites, our Business Growth Advisors are here to help!

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