The Essential Guide to Email Segmentation

Why You Should Segment Your Email List

Chapter 1

Why You Should Segment Your Email List

If you send marketing email such as newsletters, email promotions, announcements, and special offers, sending one master email to your entire list might be doing more damage than good–both to your engagement and to your sender reputation.

How does segmentation affect sender reputation? Internet Service Providers (ISPs) evaluate how your recipients interact with your email when deciding where your mail will be placed. If most of your users are unengaged, the ISP probably doesn’t think your email is very important and may deliver it to the spam folder.

Segmenting emails, a tactic every email marketer should (and can!) master, produces relevant and valuable messages that your recipients are more likely to read and respond to. Email segmentation helps you to take your messages from an email blast “one-to-many” approach to more of a “one-to-one,” personalized communication.

To take your segmentation strategy a step further, consider adding SMS to your existing email program to reach your customers on their preferred channels. With SMS, you can send timely, personalized text messages that have unmatched open and engagement rates. SMS adds another layer of segmentation to your overall marketing strategy, giving you the ability to target users through multiple channels to optimize your campaigns.

Email Service Providers (ESPs), like SendGrid, provide email metrics and engagement analytics that can help determine segmentation groups so you can fine-tune your messages so your recipients are excited to engage with your email.

Sliced Open Geen Limes on Symmetrical Blue Background with one peeled open

Up Next

How to start

Chapter 2

Chapter 2

How to start

Wondering where to start?  We advise starting your segments based on larger differentiating factors including: 

  • Demographics: Who are your recipients and how are they different?
  • Customer information/insight: What service plan/level are they on, how much are they spending, and when did they join?
  • Email Types: What types of email, transactional or marketing, are you sending?
  • Engagement: Who is opening all emails, just some, or hardly any of your messages?
  • Activity: How often are your recipients logging in, buying, or using your product or service?

We dive deeper into each segmentation area below and provide examples that illustrate how you can better target customers and maximize your email delivery and engagement.

Best Practice Tip:

Using SendGrid to segment your email list


With SendGrid's Marketing Campaigns you can use custom fields to store any insights about your customers that will help you send the right content to the right recipients. For example, how might the images in a promotional email differ if you were sending to a segment of your male customers vs. your female customers? You can leverage text fields, number fields, or date fields when using custom fields. Each offer their own segmenting options, for example, segment by text fields that “contain” certain characters, or a date field that “is within” a number of days.

Women and shopping

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Demographics

Chapter 3

Chapter 3

Demographics

Location

Whether your users reside in different areas of a state or in different countries across the world, it’s important to know where your recipients are. When you know this, you can customize your content based on location to make sure your message is more relevant. For example, you wouldn’t want to send a Fourth of July promotional email to a segment Canadian recipients.

Time

Track when your recipients are opening and interacting with your email so that you can schedule your emails to land at the top of their inbox at or right before that time. Learn more about this segmentation practice in our blog post, Two New Email Segmentation Techniques.

Gender and age

Men and women may read into and interpret communication differently from each other, and even more so depending on the product or service they receive email from. Although it might not make sense in every situation, segmenting by gender is a simple, yet impactful way to create recipient segments that allow you to deliver personalized content. Just note that you may have to request the recipient respond to a survey in which they indicate their gender.

Depending on your product or service, it may make sense to ask new users for their age or age range as well. If you’re not sure about asking gender and ages from everyone, perform an A/B test with a select group of recipients to gauge how they respond. If it’s favorable, go ahead and open up the question to your entire list.

Occupation and industry

When you know the occupation of each recipient, you can cater the message around how they’ll most likely be using your product. Whether they are a creative director at a small agency or an accountant at a large corporation, segmenting by occupation helps improve your message relevance and craft creative messaging.

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Type of Customer or User

Chapter 4

Chapter 4

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. Sending a personal welcome email is a great way to achieve this. Read more about welcome emails.

Frequent user or buyer

Separate email recipients who are actively using your site or purchasing your products into a frequent user segment. These recipients are consistently opening and interacting with your email. 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 trial periods, driving these subscribers to convert to a paid version is the next likely step. Your communications with these users should focus on how they can get started with your product and make the most of your paid product’s features and benefits. If you have free or low paying users, you may want to nurture them into upgrading.

Non-converters

Free trial users don’t always turn into paying customers. But you can still glean value from them by reaching out with a feedback survey or other communications to learn what you can improve on in the future.

Average order value

Customers spending higher amounts on your product or consume your service the most are likely interacting much differently than the customers who spend the least amount of time with the service or product. Approach communications with these two distinct groups by segmenting them during marketing campaigns. Show lower volume users or buyers all of the benefits and features they are receiving currently or could receive by upgrading in specialized nurture campaigns. And offer more incentives to valuable, long-standing customers to retain their business.

Best Practice Tip:

SendGrid Contacts API


For those looking for a way to automate a way to keep contact data current, and have access to a developer, SendGrid's Contacts API includes data that's updated on a daily basis. This is especially useful for data that changes frequently, such as "last website visit."

SG_EmailTransformation

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Email Type

Chapter 5

Chapter 5

Email Type

Target openers

Dive into your email program analytics to determine your most active and engaged users. Create a segment of these most engaged recipients and send any new email communications to them first. Not only will you learn more about the effectiveness of your content from each send, but it will help you maintain a solid sending reputation.

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. Those who both open and click should be included in your target openers segment, mentioned above.

 Inactive users

Separate those who were once involved with your brand, but have stopped interacting or responding to your emails from the rest of your list. But don’t just give up on these users just yet! Send inactive users re-engagement and win-back campaigns. If inactive recipients don’t open or click on links within your email in a few months, it’s time to remove them from your list completely. Ultimately, inactive users do more harm than good to your email marketing list, so it’s better to say “goodbye” than risk them marking you as spam.

Let your users respond

Consider allowing your users to respond to your emails. SendGrid customers can use the Parse Webhook to remove the “donotreply” address in their message–allowing them to simply reply to the email message. This can provide great feedback about the emails you’re sending by making these email marketing a two-way street. Learn more in the Inbound Parse Webhook Guide.

Up Next

Recent Activities

Chapter 6

Chapter 6

Recent Activities

Last purchase and recent web activity

If you have access to more sophisticated tracking, you may want to segment your marketing emails based on what products or services your users are viewing on your website as well as their purchase history. Keep track of what your recipient purchased most recently and then include complementary products and services in their next email.

Depending on the other tracking services you use, you can see what pages on your website caught their attention most (based on clicks and time on page) and then send messages about those specific products.

In today’s email ecosystem, email blasts aren’t going to cut it. But email segmentation doesn’t have to be as daunting as you might think. SendGrid’s Marketing Campaigns allow you to build a powerful email marketing platform with precise segmentation techniques. Read up more on Marketing Campaigns and start sending thoughtful and segmented email today.

Up Next

SMS Segmentation

Chapter 7

Chapter 7

SMS Segmentation

SMS, or text messaging, is a powerful communication channel that can take your segmentation strategy to the next level. In fact, SMS open rates are as high as 98 percent, compared to just 20 percent of all emails, making it a quick and effective way to reach your target audience. SMS messages should be segmented in order to drive customer engagement and initiate two-way conversations.

By segmenting your SMS marketing, you have the ability to achieve higher response rates and develop a personal relationship with your customers. Like email, SMS can be segmented by:

  • Geography
  • Demographics
  • Type of customer
  • Recent activity

As the use of mobile phones increases, it is critical now more than ever for companies to adopt SMS to communicate with their customers effectively and immediately. Segmenting SMS is the key to tapping into attentive audiences and providing customers with promotions and offers that they actually want to receive.

Texting illustration on iPhone

Geography

Geography is a highly effective way to segment your SMS messages. Mobile geolocation makes it possible for you to send offers to recipients living in the geographic area of the promotion you want to advertise. Targeting by location ensures that your customers receive notifications for events and discounts that are nearby and relevant to them.

Hi (name)! Show this text and get 50% off ANY beverage at our downtown cafe located on 8th Ave. 

Demographics

Another great way to segment your SMS messages is by demographics. Whether it be gender, age, background, or lifestyle, segmenting by demographics is an effective way to provide your customers with discounts and promotions that are catered to their specific wants and needs. 

Take 15% off all beauty products when you use the code: SUMMER15 at checkout!

Type of customer

It is also important to segment SMS messages to customers who are at different stages of interacting with your brand. For new customers, it is best practice to send an introductory text to welcome them into your subscriber list. 

Welcome to the family, (name)! Thank you for subscribing to our texting list. Get excited to receive exclusive rewards!

For returning customers, sending exclusive rewards and discounts can be a great way to reward their brand loyalty. 

We love having you on our team! We’re giving you 20% off your entire purchase today to show our love. Use code: FRIEND20 at checkout!

Recent activity

Targeting a user by their recent activity with your brand is also an effective way to drive sales and inspire your customers at their point of purchase. If your customer has visited your website frequently and is expressing interest in your brand, an SMS message is a great way to push them in the right direction.

We noticed you’ve recently added to your shopping cart. What are you waiting for? Take 10% off your entire purchase today with code: SALE10

Likewise, if your customer engagement is low, a “win-back” campaign might be what it takes to spark customer interest and influence purchasing behavior. Just remember to make it easy for your customers to opt-out of your texting list if they no longer wish to receive promotions. 

We miss you, (name)! Here’s 10% off your entire purchase to show that we care. Use code: SALE10 at checkout!

Just like email, SMS messages can be segmented to send timely, personalized offers and information to your customers. Segmenting your text marketing will not only help you increase customer engagement with your brand, but it will also give your audience promotions that they will actually be excited to receive.

To learn more about how you can incorporate SMS into your existing email program, talk to an expert at Twilio.

Best Practice Tip:

Use a reliable platform to customize your SMS segmentation


Twilio’s Programmable SMS makes it easy for you to send the right message, to the right person, on the right channel. Our SMS infrastructure has a ton of features, including the ability to easily segment your sending lists and measure the results of your SMS campaigns. Soon, you’ll be sending like a pro.

Up Next

Takeaways

Chapter 8

Chapter 8

Takeaways

Segmenting your email and SMS enhances all aspects of your marketing program, but the biggest benefits of email and SMS segmentation are that they:

  • Create meaningful and valuable content for each particular individual on your list.
  • Help you maintain a strong sender reputation.
  • Increase your engagement because you’re building a personal communication with your recipients.

Email and SMS segmentation doesn’t have to be overly complicated and time-consuming. If the thought of creating customized content for every type of user, demographic, or engagement level feels a bit overwhelming, take a step back and identify easy-to-implement ways to tweak content or images in small efficient ways before starting at ground zero for each segment. Small adjustments can have a big impact.

Get Started with SendGrid

SendGrid helps you focus on your business without the cost and complexity of owning and maintaining an email infrastructure. 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.

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