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How to Segment Your Email Marketing List and Why It’s Important

Sep 7, 2022

It is perfectly fine to send out the same email to everyone if you are just starting with email marketing or have a small mailing list. But you might soon notice that your email open rates start decreasing as your email list gets bigger.

Why does this happen? It happens because different people have different needs and will be attracted to different types of information. If you treat your email subscribers like a homogenous group, some will not open your emails because they don’t resonate with them. Email segmentation is one of the best ways to solve this issue.

Table of Contents

What is Email Segmentation?

Email segmentation is dividing up your email list into smaller groups called segments. There are numerous ways to segment your email subscribers. Many marketers use demographics, wealth screening, past actions, various action triggers, interests, preferences, and past purchases.

The main aim of email segmentation is so you can craft highly relevant and targeted emails for each of these segments. Creating such emails can provide you with several benefits that we will look at below.

Segmented Campaigns Yield Better Email Open Rates

A key metric for marketers doing email marketing is the email open rate. If people do not open your emails, they will not read the content therein and will not click on your call to action.

When you segment your email list, you not only change the message and language you use in the email body, but you also optimise your subject lines for different segments. These subject lines are enticing for specific audiences because they promise relevant and helpful content if someone opens the email.

When you continuously create targeted and relevant content for different segments, you increase the likelihood of people opening your emails regardless of the subject line. This happens because your audience has come to expect a reward in the form of relevant and helpful content every time they read your emails.

Email Marketing Segmentation Allows You To Send The Right Number of Emails

As mentioned, not everyone will like all the emails you send. If you send too many emails, you risk reducing your email open rates, your email being left unread, or the email being sent to spam. This happens because some people might wonder why you are sending so many emails when they are not interested in the content in some of those emails.

When you segment your audience, you ensure that each segment receives the right amount of highly targeted emails. This helps remove the annoyance that comes with doing otherwise.

Depending on how often people open your emails, you can also segment your lists. You can continue sending many emails to those who open most of your emails and reduce the frequency for those with lower open rates.

Email List Segmentation Helps People Progress Down The Funnel

There are always different people at different parts of your sales funnel. Sending emails that align with someone on the funnel can help convert them. You can ease off new subscribers by sending them a welcome email and asking them to introduce themselves.

The opposite happens for those who have been on the list for a long time and regularly engage with your emails. You can send emails to these people with clear calls to action that entice them to complete a purchase or convert in other ways, depending on your goals and objectives.

Email Segmentation Strategy: How to Segment Your Email List

For your email segmentation to work, you need to formulate a strategy. In this section, we will look at some steps you can follow and what you need to keep in mind to make it work.

Defining Your Data Points

Every business has numerous data points on all its customers. Your business likely knows what a specific customer buys and when they buy it. If you do not already, the data you already have can tell you this. You can use each of these data points for segmentation, but that would mean you have segments that are too narrow; in other words, they have too few people in them.

Think about the types of data that would help you market better to different customers, how to organise this data, and how to get any additional data you do not have.

If you are unsure about the types of data to use for segments, here are a few ideas.

Email List Segmentation Using Demographics

Demographics are any quantifiable characteristics of a person or group of people. They can include gender, age, occupation, salary, hometown, nationality, etc. Demographics work well when you want broad segments without getting into granular data.

Behavioural Data

Behavioural data determine the what, why, when, and how of a product purchase or use. Questions such as when a customer makes a purchase or opens an email, why they purchase certain products, how they use these products, and similar questions will help you understand customer behaviour.

One important thing to remember when segmenting based on behaviour is keeping separate lists for buyers and non-buyers. For non-buyers, using different sales pitches works because you do not yet have a sale and just want one. Once they pay, you should scale down the sales and marketing emails and instead keep them engaged with information and educational content they would like based on past behaviour.

Sign Up Date

Segmenting based on a sign-up date helps you send the same email to people at the same stage in their customer journey. These segments can make it easier to onboard new subscribers who might not know much about your brand, products, or services.

They also make it easier to see who your best customers are. If someone has been on your email list for a long time and has made several purchases, it would be an excellent gesture to reward them with something. A coupon code for a product they would like will work wonders.

Creating Personas

Customer, subscriber, and buyer personas are crucial in marketing because they help businesses tailor their messaging, whether it is sent on email or social media. While it is a good idea for businesses to know who their best customers are, many do not go deep enough, especially when doing email marketing.

When creating different personas, you need to know the customer’s demographic, their pain points, what they want, how you can help them get it, and what their life likely looks like.

For a fashion retailer with a persona of a 30-year-old male personal assistant who spends much time in the office, emails about office attire, designer shoes, belts, and watches might work very well.

Put it all Together

Use the data points you decided on above and buyer personas to create your segments. You can experiment with these segments because being too rigid might backfire on you.

Narrow segments will create confusing email workflows and increase the amount of work you have to do to get everything right. Going too broad might make your email marketing efforts ineffective. Striking a balance using relevant data points will yield the best results.

Create Your Content

Now that you have your segments, you need to create the necessary content. It would help if you had different email funnels for each group, with each funnel using a different voice and language.

Getting both suitable for each segment will take some experimentation, so do not be afraid to tweak things as you go. A/B testing can also help you find the right and most effective voice and language for each segment.

There are numerous excellent guides online on finding the right voice and language, so check them to create the best emails.

Send The Emails

Everything should be ready for you to start sending emails to the different segments. You can take advantage of the segmentation features offered by other email automation services. These services will help you set up your segments, which is usually as easy as following a few steps.

You will also need to load your emails and, in some cases, set the conditions for when and to whom the emails will be sent according to your segments.

Measure, Report and Adjust

Once your emails are out worldwide, the last step is measuring your results and collecting additional data. You need to know how people interact with your emails, and for this, you need to know open rates, what they click on, the kinds of emails they open, and so on.

You can use all this data to improve future campaigns. For example, if using an emoji increases open rates, you can start using them in more subject lines. If you see more openings during lunchtime, you can start sending some emails between 12 and 3 PM and see how that works for you.

17 Common Mistakes with Email Marketing Segmentation

Email marketing segmentation is a cornerstone for achieving targeted and effective communication. Despite the plethora of email marketing tools available, many businesses, from small businesses to e-commerce sites, often stumble when it comes to segmenting their email campaigns effectively. Let’s get into 17 common mistakes that marketers make in email marketing segmentation.

Mistake 1: Ignoring Purchase History

The Importance of Customer’s Purchase History

One of the most glaring mistakes in email marketing segmentation is ignoring the customer’s purchase history. This form of behavioral data is invaluable for crafting targeted email marketing campaigns. For instance, if you have data on a customer’s purchase history, you can create segments that offer complementary products or services, thereby increasing the chances of upselling.

Mistake 2: Overlooking Behavioral Data

Why User Behavior Matters

Another common pitfall is overlooking behavioral data, such as website activity and subscriber behavior. This data provides valuable insights into customer personas and can be used to create segments based on specific actions like cart abandonment or frequent page visits.

Mistake 3: Neglecting Demographic Data

The Role of Demographic Segmentation

Failing to segment your email campaigns based on demographic data like age, gender, and job title is a missed opportunity. Demographic segmentation allows you to target specific audiences more effectively, thereby making your email marketing campaigns more relevant.

Mistake 4: Inadequate Email Marketing Software

Choosing the Wrong Email Service Providers

The choice of email marketing software is crucial. Some email service providers lack essential features like automated workflows and email segmentation tools, which are vital for creating more targeted email campaigns.

Mistake 5: One-Size-Fits-All Approach

Sending the Same Message to the Entire Customer Base

Sending the same message to your entire customer base is not only ineffective but can also lead to higher unsubscribe rates. Segmented email campaigns allow for targeted email marketing, where each segment receives content that is specifically tailored to them.

Mistake 6: Lack of Engagement Strategies

Failing to Encourage Users

A common mistake is failing to encourage users to engage with the brand. Whether it’s through loyalty programs aimed at your most loyal customers or interactive surveys, engagement is key to maintaining customer loyalty.

Mistake 7: Ignoring Geographic Location

The Importance of Geographic Segmentation

For brick and mortar businesses, as well as e-commerce sites, geographic location can be a valuable metric for segmentation. Localized offers or news can make your email campaigns more relevant to specific geographic locations.

Mistake 8: Stale Email Segments

The Need to Update Email Segments

Email segments are not set in stone. Customer behavior changes, and your segments should be updated accordingly to avoid sending irrelevant emails.

Mistake 9: Overlooking New Subscribers

The Potential of Brand New Subscribers

New subscribers are often the most engaged segment. Creating specific email campaigns for these brand new subscribers can result in higher engagement and conversion rates.

Mistake 10: Neglecting Inactive Users

The Lost Opportunity with Inactive Customers

Inactive users are often overlooked, but they present a valuable opportunity for re-engagement campaigns. By segmenting these inactive customers and targeting them with specific offers, you can potentially reactivate them and gain more customers.

Mistake 11: Lack of Testing

The Role of Email Marketing Tools in A/B Testing

Many email marketing platforms offer A/B testing features. Not utilizing these tools to test different aspects of your email campaigns is a missed opportunity for optimization.

Mistake 12: Ignoring Business Type

Business to Business vs. Business to Consumer Strategies

The strategies for a business-to-business (B2B) email campaign can be vastly different from a business-to-consumer (B2C) campaign. Ignoring this distinction can lead to ineffective email marketing strategies.

Mistake 13: Not Utilizing Google Analytics

How Google Analytics Can Enhance Email Marketing

Google Analytics can provide valuable insights into user behavior and website activity. Not integrating this tool into your email marketing campaigns is a lost opportunity for data-driven decision-making.

Mistake 14: Poorly Defined Customer Personas

The Importance of Understanding Your Customer Base

Without well-defined customer personas, your email marketing segmentation will lack focus. Understanding your customer base is crucial for creating targeted groups and more targeted campaigns.

Mistake 15: Ignoring Automation

The Power of Automated Workflows

Automated workflows can significantly enhance the effectiveness of your email campaigns. These workflows can be triggered by various actions, such as a completed purchase or a new subscription, to deliver timely and relevant content.

Mistake 16: Lack of Page-Level Targeting

Why Page-Level Targeting Matters

Page-level targeting allows you to create segments based on the specific pages that users visit on your website. This is particularly useful for e-commerce businesses, where you can target customers based on the product pages they visit.

Mistake 17: Inadequate Data Collection

The Need to Collect Data for Effective Segmentation

The foundation of any successful email segmentation strategy is data. Whether it’s purchase history, demographic data, or behavioral data, failing to collect adequate data can severely limit your segmentation capabilities.


Email marketing segmentation is not just a buzzword; it’s a fundamental aspect of modern marketing strategies. Avoiding these 17 common mistakes can significantly improve your email marketing efforts. Leveraging the right tools and data, you can create more targeted and effective email campaigns, thereby resonating better with your target audience.


Email segmentation has lots of benefits for businesses that take advantage of. With the amount of data you have, and the numerous tools available to help you with email segmentation, there is no reason why you cannot start experimenting with and integrating it into your email marketing strategy.

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