74 Segments Gets You To The Back Of The Email Bus

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When I was young, the cool kids sat at the back of the bus.  They would do all sorts of cool things according to us kids who were not invited back there.  In fact, we all thought that they were better than us and they were reaping some rewards that we could never get.  Truth of the matter is, they got to school at the same time, technically were the last to get off the bus, and 35+ years later it doesn’t really matter anymore.

Last week during a conversation with a colleague of mine, we started to discuss segmentation. After several rounds of posturing, she ended up spilling the beans that her program has 74 segments which included customers and non-customers (along with all of the email engagement tiers). After I cracked some smart ass joke about the sheer number of segments, I asked her “why so many?”  Her answer was simple: A bunch of white coat statisticians made a case to have this many segments because they felt that the more they knew about them in the long run, the more they would know about engagement.  Since I have known my colleague for quite some time, I proceeded to call BS on the whole thing and a spirited discussion ensued.

Email Segmentation Does Not Equal Relevancy

Segmenting your subscriber base for the sake of segmentation doesn’t guarantee you a more relevant email.  In fact, it may cause your program to become less relevant.  Worse still, it would certainly add a layer of complexity regarding selection of the right content and having a unique enough message to truly evaluate the effectiveness of each segment.  Having 74 segments is great so long as your message is unique enough to be relevant for each segment, but I don’t know very many organizations who have that diverse of an audience as well as the required amount of content to really make a difference. Let’s remember that relevancy is in the eye of the subscriber.

Reporting and Insights Challenges

The more data you have, the more you have to report on.  Let’s face it, there are few tools these days which provide stellar out of the box reporting.  You would likely have to create a custom solution which takes time and resources, not to mention constant innovation around the tool.  Given the constraints amongst email marketers and their challenges with IT and projects, it seems highly unlikely that you would ever get to a stage of reporting nirvana.

In addition to the reporting requirements, there would also be challenges around insights for each segment and their long tail performance.  I imagine a team of analysts extrapolating and interpreting a ton of minutia data only to provide marginal insight on each segment.  You then have to wonder at what point does it all blend together and if resources have been properly utilized.

Complicating Email Makes It Even More Complicated

Great email programs are hard to do, so why complicate it even more by carving up your subscriber base into this madness?  Over the years, we have always heard that segmentation is a good thing, but just because it’s good for your program doesn’t mean you need to take things to the extreme.

The modern day email marketer has a lot to worry about, and sometimes we can all go down rabbit holes and lose sight of what truly is important. Segment your subscribers to win and don’t complicate it to the point where there is no value.

Key Takeaway

Pare down your segments to make them manageable…your sanity will thank you later.

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