segment-engagementDo you simply send out your email campaigns en-masse or take a more measured approach? A 2015 DMA report revealed that 77% of email marketing return on investment that year came from campaigns that had been segmented and properly targeted.

This is surely proof that, if you’re ‘spraying and praying’, you’re potentially missing out on a huge number of opportunities to increase the engagement level of your subscribers.

Why do so many marketers avoid this vital step? Chances are, it’s because segmentation is often seen as a chore and something that simply gets in the way of sending great emails.

In reality, the process of segmenting lists is actually pretty enjoyable and, dare we say it – addictive. While you may not hold quite as much data on your subscribers as Facebook, you do have some incredibly important detail to hand that can help you organise them into groups to whom you can send far more targeted messaging.

If you need some inspiration, we’ve got ten brilliant ways to segment your email list.

1. Age

While not true for every business, many will have a relatively wide gamut of age ranges among their customer base. This makes age a primary – and some would say essential – segmentation method.

By categorising your list by age, you can tailor the messaging, imagery and offers you send via email to be uniquely tuned to the generation in question, without inadvertently alienating anyone.

2. Gender

Another devilishly simple way to segment an email subscriber list is to do so by gender. Your products and services may have different lines or models for each sex, and if that’s the case, you’ll want all corners of the emails you send to be uniquely tuned to the right audience.

3. Job role

Will an account executive really be interested in your new line of productivity tools for marketers? Probably not. If you’ve captured the job role of your subscribers, you have a golden opportunity to segment your database based on job function and assumed responsibility.

4. Industry

If you primarily operate within the B2B realm, you may offer products that span several industries. And, if you’re lumping all of your subscribers into one big list and sending them every offer and news item, much of what is received will be hugely irrelevant. Avoid unnecessary unsubscribes with industry list segmentation.

5. Purchase history

If someone has demonstrated a penchant for buying your latest products as soon as they’re launched, they’ll be hot leads again next time around. Similarly, if Dave buys a coffee machine, he’s probably going to need some additional pods in the future. Such purchase history is a goldmine of information and enables you to segment your list based on buying habits.

6. Top customers

The people who buy from you most often deserve special attention. Whether that be a simple “thank you” or a more tangible token of appreciation in the form of a special offer, by creating a list segment that only includes the top spenders, you can easily treat your most loyal customers.

7. Survey respondents

If you conduct a survey that, as part of its questioning, asks if the respondent would be interested in a particular type of product, those that say “yes” should really be placed in their own email list. That way, when said product arrives, you can easily target them with an announcement message, safe in the knowledge that they’re almost certain to click the call-to-action button.

8. Choice of email client

We’ve all been there – you create a beautiful email only to find that it renders poorly in at least one email client. Designing for disparate clients has never been easy, but you can overcome the problem by segmenting your list by choice of email address. This requires a bit more work, but if you can tune your email uniquely for Gmail, Outlook and iOS Mail, and send each one separately, your hard work stands less chance of being undone at the other end.

9. Referrals

What better way to say “thank you” for a business referral than to send an email to the customers who have been kind enough to pass on your details? If you run a referral scheme, grab the segment of your email list that includes the referrers and acknowledge them with a nice message or special offer now and again – it’ll be appreciated, and they’ll continue to recommend.

10. In-store vs online customers

If your business combines a brick-and-mortar store with an online equivalent, it’s essential that you separate the people who visit your building from those who only enter your digital doors. That way, you can tempt the latter to make an appearance and the former to head to your website for a more convenient shopping experience.


I hope this post has given you the impetus to start segmenting your email list. It does seem like an awful lot of work – agreed, but it’s not a daily task, nor is it one that represents a stab in the dark at success. Segmentation is powerful, strategic and ultimately rewarding.