How to Segment your Database for Targeted Email Marketing

Email segmentation and personalisation are pivotal to creating a successful email marketing campaign. They’ve been shown to deliver six times higher transaction rates, but as little as 30% of brands make use of them. Segmentation is the data-driven alternative to email blast campaigns that allows you to send highly-targeted messaging to the right audience, at the right time. Learning how to segment your database for targeted email marketing will give you a considerable advantage over your competition, so start with these proven insights today.

Customer database segmentation and its benefits

Email list segmentation involves segmenting your email list into groups with commonalities based on what you know about each customer, and from this, you can personalise emails for each category of customer. For example, if you’re a food delivery service provider, you could segment your customers based on previous orders or by their geographical region. You can then send out delivery specials, local restaurant guides, or special deals with local partner restaurants tailored to each segment.

This means instead of sending generic emails to your entire list, you send out highly specific and relevant offers. It’s a great way to provide unique content to customers and strengthen interest, loyalty, and trust, while avoiding having a lot of your customers failing to connect with the content you email out.

Segments can be large or small, but the more specific your categories are, the more likely your content will resonate with each customer. Segmentation could boost delivery and open rates, increase click-through rates, grow conversions, and lower unsubscribe numbers. The higher the degree of personalisation, the more likely you’ll convert, encourage purchase, and have satisfied customers.

Strategies for effective email list segmentation

Email list segmentation isn’t as complex as it might sound, but you’ll need to have a clear strategy and ensure you have the basics for collecting and applying customer data.

1. Get the basics

To get started, you need to have certain level of customer information and devise a way to organise your segments. An email sending tool, such as those provided by an email marketing platform, will also be helpful.

  • Customer data –You need to have customer data that’s linked to an email address. For example, if you’re a retailer you might have collected customer emails, along with information like gender, purchase history, and postcode. Don’t worry if you don’t have detailed information, as you can build out your customer profiles as you go.
  • Way to organise segments – You’ll need a method to create segments and work effectively with them. Realistically, your method of organising your segments will be some type of software or web-based platform rather than pen and paper. An app that allows you to manage segments is the best example of this.

For best-practice outcomes, use page-level targeting on your website and incorporate lead magnets into your segmented email campaigns.

  • Page-level targeting – Create segmented email opt-in offers for different categories of website visitors based on their behaviour on your website. This allows you to automatically segment new opt-ins, maximise opt-in numbers, and perhaps collect more detailed information on the spot by using lead magnets.
  • Lead magnets – You can collect extra information about your new opt-ins by using lead magnets. These can be checklists, cheat sheets, templates, free apps, resource lists, and any other instantly downloadable resource. Make sure they’re of value to your target market. By collecting data on what they’re downloading, you can instantly segment these new members of your email list.

2. Understand and define data points

Once you have the basics, you can start delving into your data. Consider everything you know about your customers, including addresses, location, age, favourite sports teams or music, job, income level, and purchase history. Basic information like gender and age can be powerful data points when it come to segmenting for conversion boosts, so don’t discount the value of these common demographic categories as well.

Information you can use in addition to gender and age includes where they live, their job title, and behaviour data like shopping history and interest in specific product lines. How they use your products can also be considered, as well as whether they’re freemium or paid users. Other relevant data might be whether they click on your email links or read your emails only once in a while. Consider also sign up dates, purchase volumes, and referrals made.

Assess all these data points and be clear about what data you’re capturing and will continue to capture. Decide what data you might need to start capturing to sell more, and work out how you’ll collect and organise it. You can collect data at any point, for example, you could manually monitor activity, use a tool to automate the process, use surveys, or rely on sign up form information. Always ensure you’re complying with privacy and data protection regulations when handling customer data.

3. Create personas

The next step is to create buyer personas. You should know who your best customers are, whether they’re businesses in a niche, chocolate lovers, foodies, recreational golfers, teens, parents, or university students. By going into detail about their personas, you’ll have a solid foundation on which to segment your email lists. Customer personas are important because they help your organisation create and refine the right type of message in your email channels.

List pertinent information like demographic data, preferences, interests, pain points, goals, disposable income, and lifestyle in as much detail as possible. You should understand how your product or service helps each customer persona solve their pain point or assists with them achieving their goals.

TractionNext - Targeted Email Marketing (2)4. Identify segments

With an awareness of key data points and customer personas, you’re ready to start defining your segments. Base these segments on your buyer personas. For example, if you run a baby goods e-commerce store, you could have a segment made of mothers, another one for fathers, and a third one for grandparents. You could have a segment for working mothers, high-income parents, parents on a tight budget, and parents in certain geographic locations. You might have additional segments based on purchase history, such as parents who’ve made more than three purchases through your website in the past three months.

Other examples of segments include those based on products purchased in the past, products browsed in the past, most purchased price range, and most purchased product category. You can also segment by average order size, items cancelled, and items on wish list. Basic categories like preferences, interests, lead-magnet type, and stage in sales funnel are also great segments to use. Others like device type (mobile or desktop), physical store or e-commerce purchase, or membership expirations are also useful segments to consider.

Keep the following point in mind as you choose your segments: the segments you choose should be based on the goal of selling more efficiently, or encouraging customers to buy more of your goods or services. If you’re feeling overwhelmed at the number of segments that seem to be relevant, start with the most compelling ones, which are the ones most likely to drive the most sales.

5. Use an email marketing tool

When you start using segmented email lists, you’re not only managing different email messages, but you’ll be managing a lot of customer data as well. To keep it relatively straightforward, you’ll want to automate as much of the process as possible, so consider using an email marketing tool that has a segmentation feature.

For example, you can go into your chosen platform and search by given criteria — like males between the age of 18 and 24 within a geographical area, to create a segment. Each time someone opts into the universal email list, the segment automatically updates, so no manual list management is required.

You might also be able to create segments across multiple lists. For example, if you have a list for Victorian residents and another one for New South Wales residents, your platform might allow you to combine the two to create a segment based on further criteria, such as membership expiration date. You can then set up email reminder campaigns for each segment.

These email marketing tools offer you a way to define data points quickly and create segments based on your identified customer personas. Since they’re dynamic, you don’t need to be concerned about manually managing lists and segments.

6. Segment as much as possible

You’ll likely find it rewarding to segment all or most of the time, since you’ll probably have few occasions when you need to send out mass emails to everyone on your mailing list. Segment as much as possible because segmentation increases the likelihood that the recipients will be sent the right kind of messaging — an email message that encourages them to purchase.

At the same time, continue learning all you can about your customer list and refining your segments. Keep reviewing your data points, how you’re collecting data, and your customer personas. As you grow your email list, allow your segments to keep evolving, whether through consolidation or, in the opposite direction, by breaking them down into more specific categories.

Take advantage of the benefits

Personalising your marketing emails is key to ensuring the message is relevant and effective for the recipient. By segmenting your marketing emails, you could achieve a high degree of personalisation without having to manually write individual messages. Segmentation, when done effectively, can boost click-through rates and conversions, helping you connect with your customer base and sell more of your products and services. For best outcomes, define your data points, work out your customer personas, identify your segments, and use an email marketing platform to automate the process.

TractionNext provides industry-leading, next-generation marketing technology that doesn’t get in the way of your business. We can automate campaign workflows, trigger conversations, and accelerate conversions through the one unified platform. To find out more about how we can help you provide a more relevant and engaging brand experience to customers, contact us to request a demo.

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