Back to the Basics: List Segmentation

Andrew Kordek

2 minute read

Back to the Basics: List Segmentation

“Email is all about sending the right message at the right time to the right audience” is the most Captain Obvious quote I have ever heard. Let’s be honest, to some the right audience is the whole list and to others, it’s a hyper segment of 74 subscribers. List segmentation takes on many forms depending on the email world you live in and it can be downright scary to think about how to pull off a content messaging strategy within your program with a couple hundred segments.  

I think it is fair to say that a good segmentation strategy can pay dividends in the long run.  In fact, MailChimp put out some statistics back in 2015 that said segmented campaigns got 14.7% more opens and 63% more clicks. While that sounds extremely promising, some people I have spoken with in the past have questioned me about the number of segments that a brand should have. The strategist in me always answers with “depends” because it truly is industry and brand specific, but one thing I always advise is that segmentation should not be complicated to start out with.  In other words, having 36 segments is daunting and it will most certainly discourage you in the long run when it comes to executing (especially content) and analyzing what works.

In order to learn the benefits of list segmentation, I always advise organizations to start with small but meaningful segments that can show almost immediate impact (both positive and negative) on their KPI’s.  By starting small, you have the opportunity to analyze and pivot when needed on the segments to best optimize the program.

To that end,  here’s what has worked for me over the last 18 years in email marketing to get you started on segmentation. (Caveat: these may/may not work for your brand…so if you need/want validation, contact us.)

  • Time on list: Your organization spends money on acquiring new subscribers.  These newer people should be messaged differently over time. This TOL segment could be further segmented by new vs. non-customers.
  • Engagement: Segment by engagement not only from your email program but from at least one other channel (one recommendation is the website). Do they engage in your email, but not on the site or vice versa? Test and learn a new messaging approach for the largest of the segments.
  • Demographics: Pick one…just one demographic that you believe would have the greatest impact from a test and learn perspective.  
  • Source of subscriber: Each company has multiple sources from where their email addresses come from. Segment on your largest source with a messaging/offer/creative etc..
  • Data captured upon sign-up: If you have an opt in process where you collect information like zip/birthday/interests or user given data points, then segment based on some of that data and make sure the content or offer caters specifically to the data provided.

At Trendline, we have created simple to complex segmentation strategies for all types of companies and if there is one thing we have learned is that there is never a one size fits all strategy. If you are new to it, start slow and simple and build on it but if you are currently doing it, look for ways to make it better to analyze, learn and optimize.  The beauty about email marketing is that you can pivot quickly if needed and see almost immediate results.  



Need more information on list segmentation or assistance taking your email program to the next level? Reach out the email experts at Trendline today.



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About the Author(s)

Andrew Kordek

Andrew Kordek is a Co-Founder of Trendline Interactive.

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