Marketing January 16, 2017 Last updated January 16th, 2017 1,642 Reads share

Email List Segmentation For the New Year

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Email list segmentation can reap significant rewards in terms of subscriber retention and clickthrough rates. In fact,


One of the most straightforward ways to segment your email list is by demographics. Age, gender, income, marital status, and job title can all affect the way customers interact with your company and the type of products that interest them.

If you were running a beauty supply shop, for example, gender would be an important demographic factor. Female customers would likely purchase products for themselves. Male buyers, on the other hand, would more likely visit to purchase products for the women in their lives. Email campaigns sent out to these customers should be tailored appropriately.

Demographic information isn’t only useful for customers. If you run a B2B company that sells marketing automation software, job title is a major factor. For marketing managers, you can tailor emails to speak about your product from a marketing perspective. This message should be distinct from emails sent out to subscribers in other departments, such as sales.

Demographic information can be collected through the online forms your customers complete at checkout or when downloading your company’s online materials.

Lead Types

Emails are an excellent way to keep in touch with leads, whether they’ve downloaded your latest whitepaper or signed up for your monthly newsletter. The email addresses (as well as any other information) captured from the download form can give you some additional information about your lead. Company size and job title help qualify leads, especially for B2B businesses. From here, you can segment emails based on:

  • Lead Quality: Does the subscriber meet the requirements of your company’s target audience? If your audience is marketing managers and professionals, would you benefit from keeping in touch with a software engineer?
  • Stage in the Buyer’s Journey: Segmenting subscribers based on where they are in the buyer’s journey (awareness, consideration, or decision) ensures that they receive the correct messages. If your company creates social media automation tools, you wouldn’t want to send product pricing to someone who only downloaded an e-book on today’s social media trends.
  • Lead Nurturing and Mid-Funnel Marketing: Sometimes leads aren’t ready to buy. Marketing can continue to communicate with leads by passing along relevant content or upcoming events (e.g., webinars) until the lead wants to move forward.


Location is an excellent way to tailor your emails to match the geographical requirements of your customers. If you run an online store, chances are your customers hail from all over the country and possibly even abroad. Some benefits to segment by location include:

  • Open Rates: If your previous email campaigns revealed that your best open rates occurred on Mondays at 10:00 a.m. local time, you can segment lists by time zone to ensure they go out at everyone’s 10:00 a.m.
  • Nearby Locations: If you run a clothing chain, you can segment promotions to advertise the store location that’s closest to a particular group of customers.
  • Personalization: Companies with multiple locations can benefit from adding localized touches to their emails. Car dealerships could add local highways and points of interest into messages advertising the latest models or seasonal promotions.


Past purchases are another great way to segment customers because you can keep them interested in similar products. A customer who bought cosmetics from an online retailer is likely to be interested in upcoming sales for more of that same brand. Someone who purchased a tent from an outdoor store is likely to be interested in sleeping bags, too.

You can also group purchasers based on how often they buy from your website. For those who’ve made a single purchase, you can send reminder messages or promotions for the products they bought. Repeat customers could benefit from coupons or exclusive discounts. Finally, brand evangelists (those who both buy from and promote your company) should be treated to exclusive deals; invitations to review products in exchange for free gifts, exclusive programs, and beta-tests are great ways to keep them engaged.

Finally, you can segment subscribers based on the amount of money they spend with you. After all, a person who spent $30 on a button-down likely has a different spending pattern than someone who dropped $200 on a cashmere sweater. You can direct relevant promotions, discounts, and new product announcements toward these different customers.


Emails segmentation is all about getting the best results from your campaigns. Unfortunately, not every subscriber is as enthusiastic as others. Some likely haven’t opened your emails in months! Segmenting according to engagement allows you to tailor your messaging according to your subscribers’ level of interest. Continue to send targeted emails to your active subscribers, preferably based on one of the factors discussed above.

For inactive subscribers, you have a couple of options. First, you can try to recapture their business with a re-engagement campaign. These include surveys, contests, or coupons. Polls and surveys give you the opportunity to learn more about inactive users and refine future messaging. Contests and coupons give users direct incentives to come back to your company.

Sometimes, however, it may be best to simply cut ties with inactive subscribers and focus on active and purchasing subscribers. Take the time to understand how much of your email list consists of inactive users and segment accordingly.

Starting Fresh for the New Year

Last year, HubSpot dropped 250,000 people from their email lists to battle something called, “graymail.” Graymail occurs when someone signs up to receive emails even though they don’t want them. Email providers can detect graymail senders, which increases the odds of that sender’s emails landing into all recipients’ junk folders, not just the ones who were uninterested.

HubSpot’s experience highlights the importance of combing through and segmenting your email lists. You may spot patterns in customer behavior that weren’t so obvious before. You may realize it’s time to start fresh and focus on engaging with fewer customers. Email is a valuable channel for marketers and taking the time to segment your lists help make sure you’re getting the right messages to the right customers at the right time.

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Erik Kangas

Erik Kangas

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