Two New Email Segmentation Techniques

Best Practices

Letters EmailsIf you’re an email marketer and you haven’t adopted some sort of address list segmentation strategy, you’re way behind the times. Just a few years ago, list segmentation simply meant splitting your mailing list into a few parts based on demographics: women get these messages, men get these messages, east-coasters get these messages and west-coasters get these messages, etc.

These days, recipients still expect personalized content that caters to their interests, but there are two segmentation strategies that take the concept of targeted sending up a notch:

Target your openers first…

As an expert email marketer, you should know which subscribers on your list are super engaged with your emails. These recipients open almost every email you send them, they love your brand, and they love your content. Move these users onto their own list, they’re special and they should have a special place in your sending routine. The same can be said for your least engaged recipients, your semi-engaged recipients, and your well-engaged recipients.

Your list is now segmented by recipient engagement level, and you’re ready to send your weekly newsletter. Now what?

Send the newsletter to your super-engaged recipients first. These subscribers are very likely to quickly open your email and are very unlikely to mark the message as spam. This can help the inbox provider view your content a little more favorably while you get ready to send your next batch of newsletters. After a few hours have passed and you have started to log some serious opens and clicks, send to the group of subscribers who are slightly less engaged. Continue this process until you have sent to your entire list.

Note: This is by no means a substitute for following email marketing best practices. If you are mailing large numbers of recipients who do not want your email, this will not prevent your messages from landing in the spam folder. If your address list is purchased, scraped, or outdated, this will not prevent your messages from landing in the spam folder.

Know when they open…

Some email marketers keep track of what time of day their recipients open their messages. If you know Jon Doe always opens his daily newsletter at 7:00pm, why not send the next message around 7:00pm. You can take this logic as far as you like. SendGrid has users who track average open time for each individual recipient and send messages based on this calculation.

We have users who simply change their send times by geographic region. They know East Coast recipients open at 9:00 Eastern, while West Coast recipients open at 8:00 Pacific. We have a sender who reported significant open rate increases when they implemented a feature that sends the next newsletter at the exact time of day that the recipient opened their last newsletter.

Maintaining list segmentation with this level of granularity can take time and dedication. However, in this age of email marketing, it’s absolutely essential. Five years ago, the challenge was to get into the inbox. Today the challenge is to get to the top of the primary inbox. To do this, it’s not enough to simply convince the mailbox provider that your recipients want your mail, you have to send smarter, and better than the countless others vying for the attention of your recipients.

To learn more, download our Email List Segmentation guide and learn 12 great strategies to help you improve the success of your email campaigns.


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Luke is a software developer with a passion for solving tough problems. He's been tasked with building tools that automate and simplify the work of SendGrid's compliance and delivery teams. He loves that SendGrid encourages him to grow as a developer, and he hopes to pay it forward by doing everything he can to help SendGrid grow as a company.