Email segmentation tools and tactics – what do they really look like?

If your subscribers are different, why treat them all the same?

Instead of sending the same email to everyone, learn about what your subscribers are interested in, what content they’re expecting, or even who they are so you approach them with the proper content.

By collecting more data about your subscribers and customers, you leave behind the bulk emailing, and you join the new age of email marketing segmentation that converts.

In this article:
What is email list segmentation?
Which segmentation to use per industry
6 x Email segmentation software to use – and how they work
5 Ways to segment your contacts
7 Expert email segmentation ideas (+ Examples)

Let’s dig in.

What is email list segmentation?

Email segmentation is an email marketing technique of splitting your contacts into different groups to deliver targeted marketing content and make it easier to send personalized emails based on contact data.

You can segment your email lists based on every field you might hold on them in your database, including:

  • Geographic data: Country, city, density, language, climate, etc
  • Demographic data: Age, gender, income, occupation, marital status, etc.
  • Psychographic data: Lifestyle, activities, personality, etc.
  • Behavioral data: Previous purchase, website browsing, engagement, etc.

Email marketing segmentation helps build a sustainable email reputation that continually improves.

email segmentation results

Here is a list of email segmentation results that you can achieve when segmenting your email list.

What segmentations to use for each industry?

The more data you have about your customers, the more personalized your email could be.

data personalisation email list types

However, the customer information you’ll need is different from industry to another.

For instance, if you run an Fashion email marketing program, gender can be an essential piece of profile data. However, it’s typically not that interesting if you run a consulting agency.

To break it down, here is a list of segmentation you can run for each industry.

1. eCommerce email segmentation strategies

When running a webshop, every piece of information you collect about your customers increases potential for conversions.

A simple example would be to segment fashion newsletter on gender. Send womens collection to your female audience makes a lot of sense. But it shouldn’t stop there. More information about preferences, family situation, shopping behavior and gifting would unlock a much more layered segmentation strategy.

One of the underused segmentations for eCommerce, I’d suggest you have a look at is by climate and country and weather. Why? Just like the seasons are different from one area to the other, weather would directly influence the buying intent for your umbrellas and winter coats.

ecommerce email segmentation

Here are other segmentations to consider for your ecommerce email marketing:

  • Budget: Promote products in the same price range or a bit above your contacts’ previous purchases.
  • Activities: Personalized emails with content that match contacts’ activities and lifestyle.
  • Previous purchase: Allows you to upsell and cross-sell customers.
  • Occupation: Helps you promote products that are useful at your contacts’ workplace.
  • Website browsing: To understand which products/categories your contacts are interested in.
layered email segmentation

These are some ideas to help you understand and experiment with email marketing segmentation. Get creative with your contact segmentation and send content that your contacts are interested in.

2. SaaS email segmentation

SaaS marketers have to accurate subscriber data in order to send relevant messaging.

Consider mapping your users’ data by profile and behavior. Use that data map to segment your prospects. A huge part of it has a lot to do on how engaged your new prospects are and where they stand in the conversion funnel.

  • Stage in the marketing funnel: To distinguish users qualified to convert and digest your sales copy.
  • Engagement: Send personalized content based on the qualification level of your potential customers.
  • Activity: Learn which features and functionalities of the software your users are most interested in.

3. Consulting and B2B email segmentation

For B2B email segmentation an additional consideration is around reaching the right person. Which can be a decision maker, influencer or other type of function at the company you’re targeting.

  • Company size: Propose offers that fit the company size, and your contacts relate to your content.
  • Occupation/Position and industry: To target decision-makers and turne in to what their biggest concerns and goals might be
  • Website browsing: To learn about which products/services your contacts are most interested in.

4. Real estate email segmentation

Buying a house is a big decision for families as it is a long-term investment. And people would only go for a home that they’re like, they can afford and it’s good for the whole family.

As an email marketer, you need to understand who your prospects are in order to send them targeted emails that are relevant to their preferences, financial situation and family.

Here is how you can segment your real estate emails.

  • Marital status: So you send relevant offers that match with contacts’ marital status or family size.
  • Income: To understand your contacts’ financial situation and propose offers in their price range.
  • Location: To send offers that match with contacts’ preferred settling location.

5 Ways to Segment Your Contacts

Here are five ways you can segment your contacts and make better use of the data about your customers.

1. Contact tagging

Contact tagging represents a considerable part of email marketing segmentation and collecting data about your contacts.

A contact tag is simply a “label” in your database you can add to any email contact.
It can for instance be

  • Interests
  • Purchased products
  • Downloaded contents
  • Geolocation
  • Attended event/ evergreen webinar
  • Clicked in an email
  • Website browsing
  • Etc, etc,etc

Contact tagging helps you to pinpoint what type of content your subscribers are interested in and segment them according to their profile and behavior. If your marketing automation campaigns are dependant on it, identify their life-cycle stage.

Contact tagging is most often an automated process to add information about your contacts. Done through your email marketing software. For example, with the “Sales ebook downloader” tag, you can find contacts who showed interest in that ebook topic.

email tagging software

So you apply a filter on contacts and send your sales-related content only to those who showed interest by downloading your lead magnet. This way contact tagging helps order and use behavior-based information you collect from your contact through the customer journey.

2. List-based segmentation

Another way to segment your email marketing audience is to use the different email lists for each of your (main) segments.

Unlike contact tagging where you segment your contacts from one email list, using list-based segmentation, you’ll end up having multiple lists. This was the traditional way email marketing software used to work and some ESPs are still only able to work list-based.

A modern equivalent considers list subscriptions. Someone might be subscribed to new blog posts, alerts, offers, your event news or any topic or preference list.

Here is an example of a great preference center that shows multiple newsletters to subscribe to.

preference center email segmentation

Usually, marketers who are new to email marketing go with the list-based segmentation because it’s easier and makes a lot of sense before making the segmentation more refined.

List based segmentation has fallen a bit out of grace. Some of the older ESPs could only make a profile to be in one list, people that were in 2 lists would have double profiles and sometimes even be charged double. Also, you can’t get as sophisticated with your email targeting using list-based segmentation as you might based on tagging and dynamic segmentations. Which bring us to:

3. Static versus dynamic segmentation

Think of static segmentation as a making a selection – and then freezing it in time. In a dynamic environment that might sound like the Walkman of email segmentation. Segmentation from the stone age.

Not having updated info can result in a lot of problems, as an extreme example shows:

bad tagging marketing

Of course 7 years is a bit long 😀 But your customer interaction and transactions online change all the time, and static segmentation can’t keep up.

So that is where dynamic segmentation comes in.

Dynamic segmentation uses real-time data to create constantly changing groups of individuals that move in and out of the target segment as they meet (or don’t meet) the defined criteria you set.

It is fluid contact segmentation, continuously tracking your customers’ behavior and data.

There might still be cases where you need to “freeze” your selection though. To not have the selections change. Here are a few scenarios:

  • The obvious case for a static list is where you need to send a follow up to a previous mailing or more in general, use a previous selection to do additional sub selections (later on).
  • Create a segment of people who entered a competition with a cut off date.
  • Testing across multiple messages or across a longer time horizon (like how a marketing effort impacts the long-term subscription/LTV) you need to identify and hold cohort. People can drop-off, but no new people get added.

Dynamic segmentation provides you with endless personalization opportunities where each contact can see him/herself in your emails.

Your contacts are different, why treat them all the same? You don’t. The era of mass emails done that way is gone.

4. RSS email segmentation

RSS is short for Really Simple Syndication.An RSS-feed is a web feed, that allows people to receive and read updates to online content, such as news, stories and blog posts. At the moment a new post comes online, the feed is updated and the post is added.

Including an RSS feed to your email campaigns and automated emails allows you to deliver content that your contacts are interested in. But it is even better when we talk about RSS segmentation, setting different RSS content to be delivered to your different segments.

Using a segmented or personal RSS feed
Some companies use backend processes to create a “personal RSS feed”. Similarly this could be done to push products or product recommendations through XML or API call. The idea is the same. Some email marketing tools let you load and filter a (big) RSS feed, or, alternatively fetch category based or personally prepared RSS feed.

Adding an RSS feed to your campaigns is a great way to automatically keep your contacts up to date with the latest news and blog posts. The content of the feeds can be as uniform, segmented or even 1-to-1 personalized as you may want.

5. Analytics-based email segmentation

Email segmentation doesn’t have to be uniquely based directly on your contacts’ data .

Any type of analytics in or outside of your email software can reveal more email segmentation opportunities.

It’s using the power of combined data analytics to send better emails.

Analytics based segmentation starts with understanding your subscribers’ profile, actions and the appropriate targeting. For instance – it might be hard to do an RFM segmentation inside of your ESP. Or to calculate the most valuable segments of VIP customers. The analytics and segmentation can be done outside of the possibly in a central marketing database or from data in your Customer Data Platform (CDP).

A quick-win already may be an eRFM (looking at engagement and the frequency and recency of engagement) Email software provides crucial details about your audience and how they engage with email and some ESPs also track site engagement.

Taking it a step further, looking at data at the individual-level is even more insightful.

You can tie interactions back to each subscriber as if you’re reaching them personally.

  • Use the device open metrics to target users of specific devices.
  • Directly target your most engaged subscribers as they’re more likely to make a purchase.
  • Send re-engagement emails to win-back inactive contacts.
email segmentation flow

6. Email Segmentation Software

1. Automizy

Automizy is an all-in-one email marketing tool. It allows you to employ omnichannel marketing by connecting your marketing channels and trigger your automated workflow.

With that, you can save tons of time by automating email autoresponders and lead nurturing campaigns.

Automizy provides:

  • A responsive email builder to customize your email in a way that matches your brand.
  • Automated email resend to non-openers to maximize your email open rates.
  • Visual email workflow builder to map your best-converting email sales funnel.

Automizy helps you automate your contact segmentation with tagging. For instance you can add tags to contacts, in the following ways:

  • Contact joins an email list
  • Contact fills a form
  • Email opens
  • Contact clicks on a link or other actions
  • Contact visiting a specific webpage

Not only that, but you also get a dashboard on every contact profile that presents a contact lead score.

contact profile segmentation lead score

As an email provider, Automizy allows you to automate your contact tagging process to save time. And send laser-tag targeted 😀 emails that convert customers.

For instance, targeting contacts based on their position at a company is a great idea if you’re doing B2B email marketing. Segmenting contacts based on their function is one thing, imagine what else you can use it for your email marketing.

Here is a case in which we create a filter based on Position (CEO), Active status (Active), Email address (Doesn’t include, Subscription date (After January 1st)

In Automizy, you can also filter the list of contacts who
1. Received or didn’t receive a specific email.
2. Opened or didn’t open a specific email
3. Clicked or didn’t click on a link in a specific email

This contact filter can help you send targeted email campaigns based on your subscribers’ interaction with your previous campaigns.

2. ExpertSender

ExpertSender is a multichannel marketing tool designed to solve the marketing challenges of growing businesses across the email, SMS web, mobile, and web channels.

One of the great things about ExpertSender is that you can use your customers purchase and behavioral data to create advanced and very precise segments. These are also dynamic, meaning that client data is updated in real-time. And it all is relatively intuitive and works very quickly.

email segment definition

Another quality of ExpertSender is the clean, informative dashboard. It is easy-to-use and doesn’t drown you in data.

expertsender dashboard

3. Moosend

Moosend is very affordable email marketing software, that covers a wide range of a marketer’s needs, such as contact segmentation and targeted email marketing.

Moosend is more than a bulk email tool. Moosend’s List Segmentation is a powerful feature that allows you to send targeted email marketing campaigns – emphasizing a specific audience out of your entire email lists.

You can automate personalized content as if you’re reaching out to your contact in person.

Using Moosend you can segment your list based on:

  • Contact joining list, recipient name, recipient email
  • Campaign opened, links clicked, campaign nam,
  • Link URL, operating system, email client, web browser, user action
  • etc

4. MailChimp

MailChimp is a software that gives you the ability to create and manage mailing lists, newsletters, and automated campaigns. You can use MailChimp to create list-based email segmentation and divide your contacts into different lists based on what contacts share in common.

MailChimp is simple and easy to use, and its software gives you access to an array of email marketing tools in one place.

  • Popups
  • Opt-in forms
  • Email autoresponders
  • Bulk emails
  • Ads, etc.

MailChimp tracks specific data such as the location of an email subscriber, which gives you the ability to segment your mailings on geo-IP, activity, contact status, language, source, etc.

Mailchimp user behavior segments

It’s a powerful feature for the business owner who is looking to reach out to specific areas of the industry. With being able to target certain geographical areas, you can maximize the potential of your campaign.

mailchimp email segmentation

5. ActiveCampaign

ActiveCampaign is an email marketing automation platform that offers a suite of tools that are designed to help small to medium-sized businesses acquire, retain, and ultimately engage their customers through advanced email segmentation.

The tool provides you with automation that works very well in marketing and sales funnels.

Through advanced segmentation, you could send a message to only those contacts who would be interested in it and, just as importantly, you can exclude those contacts who would not be interested.

In this way, you can keep your deliverability and engagement high because your contacts will feel that your messages are relevant to them.

Activecampaign list entry methods segmentation

You can segment based on a contact’s:

  • Demographics
  • Custom fields you’ve created
  • Purchase history
  • Page view history
  • Tags that you attached to a contact’s record

6. Brevo

Brevo is an email marketing tool for businesses to build and grow relationships through marketing campaigns and transactional messaging.

With Brevo you can customize your email segmentation, so each reader receives an email that relates much more closely to their personal needs or interests.

Email segmentation can give a more personal touch to your campaigns and your entire brand.
The Brevo segmentation engine is ideal for managing your contacts without the need to have separate email lists for each segment.

You can easily separate and divide up your contacts, then regroup them into new lists that are relevant for sending.

Brevo unengaged contacts segment

You can create a dynamic list based on a set of predetermined filters like your search criteria.

This list is automatically updated every 24 hours, which is not real-time – but more than enough for many. This feature is essential for creating new lists from segmenting contacts.

7 Expert email segmentation ideas (+ examples)

1. Interests and preference segmentation

Use your data on your subscriber’s interests and preferences to curate content that you know they’ll love.

Zillow for instance, uses the data on what their users prefer, to create targeted emails that share updates about the houses their users interested in.

Zillow email example segmentation

2. Gender and Demographic segmentation

Create segments based on your subscribers’ demographics to reach out to your subscribers with the right content.

As if you know your subscribers in person.

If you’re promoting a product that targets only your male audience, you should exclude females from your target list.

2-IN-1 SERIES sent the following personalized bulk email campaign where products were promoted uniquely to their male subscribers.

2in1email segmentation example

3. Segmenting by age

Sometimes segmenting by your subscriber’s age can be crucial in relating to them better.

For example, Tom Segura segments his subscribers by age when announcing his Take It Down tour dates. How’s that?

Tom’s stand-up show is for adults only. With age segmentation, he targets only his subscribers who are 18 years old and older.

age segmentation

4. Location and geographic segmentation

There are a lot of different ways to use geographic location data, making segmentation by geographic area a valuable tool.

Litmus, for example, used geolocation to send out targeted emails for their TEDC event in Boston. For instance, they could target specifically their customers and subscribers they suspected could be more interested in visiting Boston (by location).

email segmentation tedc

5. Lead magnet and opt-in page segmentation

When you segment your subscribers based on the type of lead magnet that captured their interest, you can continue to nurture them with content that is related to the lead magnet.

lead magnet segmentation

Emails that match with contacts’ preferences and increase CTR. One way to hit that is by segmenting your contacts based on their opt-in page and browse behavior from that session.

Contacts’ opt-in page tells about your subscribers’ preferences.

Here is an example of curated content from Hootsuite sent specifically to contacts who opt-in through one of their social media advertising content pages.

hootsuite email segmentation

6. Funnel stage segmentation

It makes sense to adapt your messaging to the stage in the marketing and sales funnel a contact is. Are they just orientating, or are they already ready to buy? The information needs are very different at each stage of the funnel – so so should your email content.

Visitors who abandon their shopping carts are considered to be at the bottom of the sales funnel. Once they were close to converting, but something changed their mind.

Might be the extra hidden fees of shipping, a distraction, maybe need to think it over a bit more. No matter what the reason is, segment your leads based on their position in the sales funnel.

Cart abandonment emails are among the best strategies to re-win back your BOFU leads.

abandonned cart email segmentation

7. User activity segmentation

Monitor your users’ activity on your website or app, so you know what they’re interested in and tailor your content accordingly.

For example, Strava takes your personalized data collected from their app to curate a particular stats report for you. It’s like they’re so interested in your activities!

user activity segmentation

Email marketing segmentation

Email marketing segmentation isn’t a hard or advanced marketing practice. With the right email marketing software, and now that you’ve seen some of the best segmentation examples, you can start targeting your audience

Are you using any segmentation I did not include? Let me know in the comments below.

About Akram Krayem

Akram Krayem is a digital marketer based in Budapest, Hungary. Since working with Automizy, he has contributed to the growth of the blog from 0 to 250K visitors per year. An experienced copywriter and digital marketing executive with a demonstrated history of working in the IT, eCommerce, and SaaS industry.

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