HomeBlogSegmentation Strategies for Super-Targeted Email Marketing

Segmentation Strategies for Super-Targeted Email Marketing

Author: Mary Lister
Last Updated: August 15, 2023 | Email Marketing

The first thing I do in the morning is check my email. I’m looking for urgent work alerts, general family news, but mostly I’m deleting the insane amount of promotional emails that flood my inbox overnight. By the time I arrive at work, I have another batch to clear out. I don’t want to hear about new lawnmowers (I’m not sure why I signed up for that list in the first place) and I don’t care about buying a bridesmaid dress for a wedding I don’t have. Worst of all, I haven’t opened an email from these retailers in months! Take a hint, guys!

Email marketing is about curating a relationship with your customer. That means your emails need to be relevant and timely for each customer, and not all your customers are the same. According to MarketingSherpa’s Email Marketing Benchmark report, 52% of marketers say they have a “great need to improve email database segmentation” and 32% of email programs have cited segmentation as a top priority in the growth of their programs. There is no “one size fits all” in marketing: personalization is expected.

Before joining WordStream, I worked in email marketing. I have learned so much about segmenting lists and targeting audiences that it’s coming out of my ears! Here are my best tips for utilizing segmentation to target your subscribers without pissing them off.

amazon targeted email marketing

A nice way for Amazon to ask customers what they actually want to see.

Targeted Email Marketing: The Basics

Don’t be desperate: segmentation helps with your reputation! By avoiding “Batch and Blast,” your customers are more likely to open your emails and less likely to ignore mailings or mark them as SPAM. Very basic segmentation can go a long way.

Here are some basic segmentations to consider with targeted email marketing:

  • Customers vs. Prospects: Once you have ushered a prospect through the marketing funnel and they complete their first purchase, you have reached a new level of your relationship. They like you! Show your appreciation of your customers with a nice Thank You email, and remember not to harass them out of your life. If they have purchased before, they are more likely to purchase again. Similarly, prospects haven’t committed to you yet—don’t get ahead of yourself and start planning the wedding. By separating these two groups, you can learn more about your audience and who is worth your time and effort to put a ring on it.
  • Recency: When do you consider a customer to be active or inactive? This varies greatly by brand; I’ve seen retailers sticking to six months of opens and clicks, some up to two years. Many B2C “fast fashion” retailers seem to have customers with shorter life spans, whereas B2B trends toward the longer end. Dependent on how often a customer receives a mailing and engages determines when you can send them a sweet “We miss you!” message to avoid losing them all together.
highstreet targeted email marketing

Sent from Not on the High Street

  • Frequency: Do you have customers who purchase every month, like clockwork? Or maybe there is a holiday segment of your audience – people who only purchase gifts in December? If you mail both audiences the same way, you risk running off the customer you want to engage. According to research by Chadwick Martin Bailey, 69% of consumers unsubscribed from emails because they were sent too frequently. By sending too often, you risk losing your leads and any revenue they may have brought with them.
  •  Monetary: How much did the customer spend the last time they converted? One high-value purchase or many low-value purchases? Do you want to mail them with sale or luxury items? Directing targeted emails featuring full-price products to the customers most likely to buy without a promotion could help prevent unsubscribes.

Targeted Email Marketing: Getting Fancy

Already doing most or all of the above? Here are some more advanced email targeting strategies to try!

  • Geo-targeting: If you run a local boutique with healthy ecommerce sales, you want to be sure you’re targeting local and online customers differently. The easiest way to do this is asking for a zip code during sign-up! If you have a larger presence, including a Store Locator at the bottom of your mailings is a great way to drive customers in store—like the sale email from Steve Madden below.
steve maddon targeted email marketing
  • Demographics: Women and men shop differently! Actually, I’m pretty sure men only shop on Amazon or in stores, whereas many women (me) have a fledgling online shopping problem. Different age groups also have varying shopping habits; a student is more likely to look for sample sales and clearance than a working professional in their 40s who can afford that full-priced handbag. If you are catering to a variety of shoppers, segment to target these customers creatively—and learn more about your most loyal shoppers to develop your brand.
office targeted email marketing

OFFICE asking their customers for more information

  • Time of Day/Time of Week: I may check my email first thing in the morning but I have never completed a purchase before coffee! To target customers who do convert first thing in the morning, check conversion rates a few hours after the send; and send a nice reminder about big sales to lazy bones like me who need more encouragement. At Wordstream, we tested our own send and open data and found that our highest open rates – over 25% clicks – occurred for messages sent on Thursdays between 8-9am while the lowest open rates – less than 5% opens – occurred when messages were sent on Tuesdays and Wednesdays between 8-10am. The best way to find that sweet spot is to test, test, test. It is different for everyone!
  •  Let’s be Friends: Have I purchased something that may need to be replaced, i.e. ink cartridges, mascara, prescription medicine? Maybe it is a service that will need repeating, like an annual check-up or vehicle inspection. Best of all, it could be a birthday card or anniversary celebration! Let your customer know you are paying attention and you care.
sephora targeted email marketing

Sephora, you shouldn’t have! (But I’m glad you did)

  • Google’s Customer Match: After you have gathered data for segmentation, you can utilize Customer Match from AdWords! Customer Match allows you to target a custom audience by uploading a list of email addresses. You can then serve specific ads and bids to users in different points of the marketing funnel—from prospects to loyal customers. Customer Match allows you to reach your subscribers on Search, Gmail, or YouTube; just not display. If you also use Social Advertising with Facebook and Twitter, both companies can also help you use an email marketing database to remarket to your audience. WordStream’s Erin Sagin can help you out with the set-up for AdWords’ Customer Match in her post here!

Just in Case – Email Targeting Mistakes to Avoid

With any segmentation, the above can be combined to narrow any audience down even further, i.e. monetary ($500+ spend on full-price products) + recency (purchased before October 2015).

But be careful! When you are doing multi-level segmentation and sending multiple different mailings, there is risk of overlap. Make sure to suppress audiences from each other in order of priority to ensure the most important emails are being received by the most people BUT not everyone is getting every email you send. Developing a coherent marketing calendar absolutely helps this—even if you don’t stick to it religiously.

[Also check out: The 8 Coolest Ad Targeting Features in Marketing Right Now]

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Meet The Author

Mary Lister

Mary is a content writer/strategist at Starry, Inc. and an enthusiast of all things Internet. When she’s not writing words for work, you can find her eating extra-cheesy pizza while planning her next trip.

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