How to avoid promoting high-heels to a businessman (and other Email Segmentation tips)


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Email Marketing is very effective, but it's even more effective when the content of the emails is specifically targeted to appeal to subscribers based on certain criteria. The more relevant the content, the more likely it is that the subscriber will interact with it.

Identifying groups of subscribers within your mailing list based on certain criteria is called Email Segmentation, and it's a great way to step up your Email Marketing efforts to boost engagement and conversion.

You can also view the blog post that this SlideShare presentation is based on at

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How to avoid promoting high-heels to a businessman (and other Email Segmentation tips)

  1. 1. What is Email Segmentation?
  2. 2. The theory behind segmentation is that if you can identify groups of subscribers within your mailing list based on certain criteria, and then tailor your messages so that they will specifically appeal to those subscribers, then they will be more likely to respond favorably to those messages, boosting your engagement and conversion rates.
  3. 3. It’s basically an advanced way of personalizing emails to individuals within segments that you define within your mailing list.
  4. 4. So if segmentation is so great, why aren’t more email marketers using it?
  5. 5. So if segmentation is so nifty, why aren’t more email marketers using it? These days, most decent Email Service Provider platforms make it pretty easy to define segments and deploy messages to specific groups within a mailing list, so the “tricky” part isn’t in the technical process.
  6. 6. The biggest challenge to email segmentation is in collecting the data from subscribers that makes it possible to classify them into segments in the first place and then knowing when and how to use this data effectively to maximize subscriber engagement.
  7. 7. It’s this challenge that still poses a barrier to email segmentation for many email marketers despite being well aware of its benefits.
  8. 8. So how do you collect data for the purpose of segmentation?
  9. 9. The obvious place to collect data is during signup.
  10. 10. This opportunity is lost for marketers who offer an “email address only” signup, but marketers who provide an email signup form that requests a few more details about the subscribers usually have a good base to work from, at least on a basic level.
  11. 11. As a rule, it’s best to keep the number of details requested during signup to a bare minimum and ask for only what’s absolutely necessary to perform the segmentation that’s crucial to your business, because long and exhaustive forms usually turn people off from subscribing at all.
  12. 12. Examples of “Detail Request” Emails You can always request more details later on once you’ve had a chance to establish trust with your subscribers and demonstrate that your content is valuable.
  13. 13. Examples of newsletter signup forms that request minimal details to allow for basic but essential segmentation: American Apparel
  14. 14. Examples of newsletter signup forms that request minimal details to allow for basic but essential segmentation: Billabong
  15. 15. Examples of newsletter signup forms that request minimal details to allow for basic but essential segmentation: Nerdist News
  16. 16. More Examples of Signup Pages Examples of newsletter signup forms that request minimal details to allow for basic but essential segmentation: Armani Exchange
  17. 17. The more data you accumulate about your subscribers over time, the more efficiently you will be able to identify the various subscriber persona that make sense to segment messages for.
  18. 18. Using Progressive Profiling to segment your mailing list
  19. 19. Even when you don’t have a lot of data about your subscribers, you can still segment them into groups based on their interaction with your emails over time (hence “progressive” profiling).
  20. 20. For example, using Email Analytics reports you can identify your frequent openers from those who rarely open your emails, and same goes for clicks. If you dig deeper, you can also establish which subscribers consistently click on certain types of links in your emails.
  21. 21. This allows you to create reasonably accurate segments of subscribers based on subjects or offers that interest them, or on their level of activity (so that they can be rewarded) or inactivity (so that they can be re-engaged).
  22. 22. According to a recent report from Experian Marketing Services, 70% of brands did not personalize emails sent to subscribers in 2013 but most marketers (83%) segmented their email campaign audiences by past activity data.
  23. 23. This demonstrates that despite the challenges of segmentation, email marketers seem to feel comfortable using progressive profiling to segment their mailing lists, most likely because it doesn’t rely on information provided by the subscribers themselves.
  24. 24. What type of data should you collect for the purpose of segmentation?
  25. 25. The data that makes sense for one company to segment by may not necessarily be relevant for another, so deciding what criteria is important for segmentation purposes should really be based on YOUR specific business requirements and email program’s goals.
  26. 26. If your business caters for a niche audience (or several niche audiences) then obviously you should request details that are relevant for YOUR segmentation purposes. For example, if you own a pet store, it would make sense for you to ask your subscribers during signup what type of pet they own so that you don’t bombard certain subscribers with dog food promotions when they in fact own goldfish (etc.)
  27. 27. Being able to refer to a subscriber by his first name isn’t really a form of segmentation, but it is about as basic as you can get with personalization in email. So for those email marketers who see segmentation as “the deep end of the pool” but feel like they’re still wading around with inflatable armbands, the “first name” detail is a gentle way to inch further towards the deep end.
  28. 28. Also, from the subscriber’s point of view, it’s nicer to be greeted with “Hi %first name%” than “Dear Valued Customer” because it feel as though the sender is talking to him or her as an actual person and not to just another anonymous subscriber on a mailing list.
  29. 29. Any retailer who sells products that are relevant to either men or women must be able to distinguish between his female and male email subscribers. Knowing the subscriber’s sex is precisely the thing that can prevent an email featuring a promotion on high-heel shoes from ever reaching a businessman who would prefer a promotion for neckties and vice versa.
  30. 30. That’s not to say that some women may not be interested in certain items on behalf of the men in their lives or that men won’t on occasion be on the lookout for something for the women in their lives, but knowing how to package these items properly for the right audience (like this nice example from ModCloth) is key to getting the desirable reaction and not an “unsubscribe” as a result of repeatedly irrelevant offers. Sender: ModCloth (click on the image to view the full newsletter)
  31. 31. Knowing which country your subscribers are from can help sharpen your messaging so that you’re not sending certain people content that’s irrelevant to them. It also helps you review the performance of your emails based on the geographical location of your subscribers. For example, if you can see from ongoing analysis that your French subscribers are particularly engaged with your emails (even if you hadn’t intended it), you might decide to tailor a promotion specifically for your French audience in order to maximize sales.
  32. 32. If your catalogue includes many types of products or services, then knowing exactly what interests each subscriber can help you customize emails with messaging that will be particularly relevant to them. The more your subscribers feel that your content is relevant to them, the higher the likelihood that they will engage with your emails.
  33. 33. 1. Sending Birthday Emails helps to endear your brand to a subscriber by making him feel warm & fuzzy that you “remembered” this special day and took the trouble to send a birthday greeting, or better yet – some sort of birthday gift. 2. Classifying your subscribers into age brackets can help you target certain messages for maximum relevance. You can even use different language to appeal to different age brackets. For example, you might have something to offer that’s particularly relevant for college students but not really for anyone else, or for people of retirement age and no one else (etc.)3. In some cases, marketers must verify that subscribers are over a certain age in order to send them emails. There are three main reasons why knowing your subscribers’ birthday is helpful:
  34. 34. This one’s also a no-brainer if you have easy access to this data. Pioneered famously by Amazon and now widely used by many other online retail giants (although not always effectively), the idea is to send people relevant content based on their recent purchases.
  35. 35. The smart way to segment based on purchase history is to consider the type of items that were purchased and then send targeted offers (in a timely and respectful frequency) about complementary items. For example: 2. Or if someone just bought a new bed, you could send them an email offering bed linen options. 1. If someone just purchased an airline ticket for a vacation or business trip, there’s no need to sell him another vacation or business trip so soon after this purchase, but it would make sense to send an email with hotel recommendations or local attractions. 3. Or, if someone just download a whitepaper on email marketing, you could send them an email recommending other whitepapers that may be of interest.
  36. 36. The “hottest” time to strike a shopper with an additional relevant offer is at checkout time or just after the purchase, but only as long as the offer makes sense, otherwise it’s just plain pushy and annoying.
  37. 37. TO SUM UP: Segmentation isn’t always necessary for every email you send, but if you identify situations where tailoring messages for certain subscribers would boost their relevance significantly and you have access to data that allowed you to create the necessary segments in your mailing list, then it would be a missed opportunity not to do so.
  38. 38. This presentation was created by Noya Lizor, Head Honcho at The Best of Email, a hub for showcasing standout emails by marketers who are “getting email right”. Visit to learn more about: