The Essential SendGrid Email

Segmentation Guide

Table of Contents

Segmenting Your Recipients

Whether you send marketing email like newsletters, email promotions, coupons, and special offers, or transactional email such as purchase receipts, notifications, or order confirmations, treating all of your users the same actually does more damage than good, both to your engagement and to your reputation.

Segmenting your email streams and recipient lists so messages are relevant and valuable is a practice every email manager needs to master. The trick is to use the metrics and analytics SendGrid provides to fine-tune your messages and deliver messages that will motivate readers to take action.

SendGrid users can segment their customers in any manner they wish, and with the ability to create up to sixty custom fields in your messages and then segment by those fields, the options are limitless. Generally, we advise people to think about larger differentiating factors, including:

  • Activity: How often are your recipients logging in, buying, or using your product or service?
  • Demographics: Who are your recipients, how are they different, and how are they interacting with your email?
  • Engagement: Who is opening all, just some, or hardly any of your email?
  • Email Types: What types of email are coming from you (e.g. transactional or marketing)?

We’ve compiled some essential examples below of how you can better target customers and maximize email delivery and engagement.

Type of Customer or User

New User or Buyer

Start your new users or first-time buyers off right by focusing your messages on subjects and actions that will extend their relationship with you. Your goal as an email program manager is to drive value and ensure recipients are interested in your communications.

Frequent User or Buyer

Make sure you’re separating email recipients who are actively using your site or purchasing your products. These recipients are much more likely to open your messages and take further actions. Consider these users to be your VIP recipients–make sure you treat them that way by extending them special offers and discounts and surveying them to get a better understanding of how to improve your program.

Free Trial Subscriber

For companies that offer free trials, the next step for these leads is to drive them to convert. Your communications with these customers should be about how they can get started with your product, and should always be thoughtful and helpful.


People who were once involved with your brand, but have stopped interacting with it or your communications should always be separated. Re-engagement and win-back campaigns are targeted at these users. If inactive recipients haven’t opened or clicked on links in your messages in a few months, it may be a good idea to remove them from your list completely so they don’t end up flagging you as spam.


Free trial users don’t always turn into paying customers. Make sure you’re getting as much from them as possible by reaching out with a feedback survey or other communications to learn what you can improve upon in the future.



Whether they are in different areas of a state or in different countries across the world, it’s important to know where your recipients are. Customizing email streams and content to reach your recipients on a more personal level is one of the easiest ways to increase engagement.


Along with location, track when your recipients are opening and interacting with your email so that you can target them and show up at the top of their inbox at that time. You can learn more about this segmentation practice in our blog post, Two New Email Segmentation Techniques.

Gender and Age

This is a simple, but effective way to create recipient segments that allow you to deliver personalized content for your readers. Depending on your product or service, it may make sense to ask new users for their title and age.

Occupation and Industry

When you know what the person who is signing up for an account does for a living, you can send better messages about how they’ll most likely be using your product. Whether they’re a startup CEO or an IT representative at a large corporation, everyone deserves to know how they can get the most from your company.

Recent Activities

Last Purchase and Recent Web Activity

Track what your recipient purchased last and then target their next messages around complementary products and services. Depending on the other tracking services you use, you can see what pages of your site caught their attention most and then send messages about those specific products.

Average Order Value

Customers spending higher amounts on your product or service are most likely using them much differently than the customers who spend very little. Show them all of the benefits and features they are receiving currently or could receive by upgrading. Offer more incentives to valuable customers to retain their business.

Email Engagement

Target Openers

You should already know which of your subscribers are super engaged and which aren’t. Make sure you’re sending new communications to your engaged recipients first. Not only will you learn more about the effectiveness of your content from each send, but it’ll help keep your sending reputation intact.

Email Activity

By using SendGrid’s Event Webhook, you can see all kinds of actions recipients take with your emails. See which links are working and which aren’t, then see if you can use that data to improve the communications you send to that segment in the future.

Interest Level

Dive even deeper into recipient engagement and segment who is opening your email and who is opening AND clicking on your CTAs. This way you can determine who was intrigued by your subject line, who dropped off after reading your content, and who actually took action.

Email Type

Recipients respond to transactional and marketing email differently, so it’s important that you’re also segmenting your streams by email type. This means receipts are handled differently than account updates, newsletters, or password resets. Make sure your messaging is appropriate across all email types and again, that you’re segmenting your traffic on separate IPs.

Keeping your sending reputation high ensures that your messages have a better chance of actually getting delivered and not blocked by ISPs. One of the best ways to do this is by segmenting your outgoing email traffic and sending from different subusers and IPs. SendGrid customers get access to both of these features in Pro accounts. Visit the Pricing Page to learn more.

Segmenting your email is important for many different reasons, but the two biggest are ensuring your sending reputation is kept as high as possible, and targeting and messaging recipients in a way that results in them taking an action. To learn more producing effective email content, read our SlideShare: Email Marketing: Content 101.

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Warmup Age (Days)Hourly Email Limit

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Setting up and maintaining infrastructure for high-volume email is complex, challenging, and expensive. It’s not as simple as maintaining a corporate email environment, and very different rules and standards apply. You’ll either need dedicated staff who understand the ins and outs of email to monitor your email program, or you can turn to an email service provider like SendGrid that can take care of everything for you.
Get Started with SendGrid

SendGrid helps you focus on your business without the cost and complexity of owning and maintaining an email infrastructure. We help with all technical details (from whitelabeling to DKIM) and offer world-class deliverability expertise to help your emails reach the inbox. And with a full-featured marketing email service that offers a flexible workflow, powerful list segmentation, and actionable analytics, all of your email needs are met in one simple platform.