Email Marketing Tips: Segment Lists for Targeted Campaigns

Campaigner offers expert advice on how to incorporate list segmentation into your email marketing campaigns.

From building customer loyalty to acquiring customers and communicating promotional offers, email marketing has changed the way small business ecommerce site owners do business today.

Most companies realize there is much more to email marketing than just scoring a customer's email address and sending content every couple weeks. Email marketing requires practice and dedication to be a successful marketing and communication tool for your small business.  

What Is Email Segmenting?

There are a number of tactics that small business owners can use to boost email marketing efforts. One technique that will help you send relevant communications to specific people in your list is called email list segmentation.

Email segmentation is basically when you segment (or split) your subscriber list, based on any number of conditions -- including purchase history, age, geographic location, or previous email campaign interactions.

The point of segmented email campaigns is to drive response to your email marketing messages by sending relevant and targeted messages to specific people in the list.

One example of when you might want to use email list segmentation is if you own a retail store and have a special promotion event that isn’t going to be available through your online store.

If you headline this event in your weekly newsletter to all subscribers you will have customers who would note the “local aspect” and delete the email knowing it wasn’t at all relevant to them.  In this scenario you could use list segmentation based on the subscriber’s location to send that known target group (or “segment”) of your list a special email -- and avoid sending to those who would not be interested in the details.

Getting Started: How to Segment Your Email List

Paul Turnbull, product manager for Campaigner said that the more information about a subscriber you have in your email marketing software, the more options you have for segmenting your list. The email address is the one piece of data you must have, but even a history of subscriber actions -- something you easily obtain through campaign reporting -- can be the basis for segmentation.

“If you import nothing but email addresses you still have some data to work with,” said Turnbull. “If you previously sent email to these contacts, and they opened or clicked a link in the email, [it] gives you behavioral data and you can do quite a bit with that.”

He noted that in the Campaigner platform automatically tracks this type of data, but you can also provide the email system with information you acquire through Web forms or customer sales records by importing standard spreadsheets and attaching it to an email address in the system.

A great way to obtain data about subscribers is to capture secondary data (that is data other than a name and email address) when they sign-up to receive email communications from your business.  “The sign-up form capabilities we include with Campaigner allow you to request both optional and required information from customers,” Turnbull said.

“By default the email address and the user’s first and last name is required, but you can customize this kind of form to obtain additional information,” he added.

5 Email Segmentation Tips to Get You Started

Requesting information from customers can be tricky. You want customer data but you don’t want to discourage them from opting in to your email list by asking for too much. Turnbull offered the following tips to help small businesses get started with collecting data so you can segment your subscriber list for highly targeted campaigns:

1.  When customers fill in these forms they are aware that the information is being collected and used in some capacity. Business owners need to cover all the bases through privacy policies with their customers.

2.  Think about the questions you ask from the customer’s perspective: it’s a matter of asking yourself what information you absolutely need. You can build the customer story out over time with follow-up campaigns after a relationship with your business has been established.

3.  Customize sign-up forms and have different versions hosted in different places. This allows you to ask questions in places where it makes sense to do so. For example, customers may feel more comfortable answering more personal question on a blog or a Facebook sign-up form compared to your business website form. Remember that tracking where the customer signed up with you is another piece of data you can use for segmenting.

4.  A person’s location data is useful for segmenting for regional campaigns.  You can capture zip codes through sign-up forms or at a store kiosk. You can do a lot with just a zip code, so asking for a full mailing address isn’t always necessary.

5.  Reporting is your friend. Pay attention to the results of your marketing campaigns and look at those reports as opportunities for segmenting.  For example, as you drill down into your last campaign report and see that a number of people clicked a specific link, this is an opportunity to follow up with that segment of list subscribers with a related special offer.

Learn More About Email Marketing

From beginner guides to expert tips, our selection of ecommerce marketing articles can help you to better manage your email marketing campaigns.

Vangie Beal is a veteran online seller and frequent contributor to She is also managing editor of You can tweet with her online @AuroraGG.

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