Neil Patel

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Email Segmentation: Why it Matters and Effective Tactics

A graphic saying "Email Segmentation: Why It Matters and Effective Tactics."

Do you know email marketing segmentation can improve conversion rates?

Just look around. There are many success stories to back this up, like this excellent audience segmentation example from Spotify’s “Wrapped.”

Every year, Spotify Wrapped becomes viral. How? It crunches its data to gather unique insights from its users. 

Then, Spotify users receive an email playlist of their top songs, artists, genres, etc. The data also appears in their accounts, where they can share it with the platform’s millions of other members. 

It’s an awesome strategy that always hits the mark and it’s just one example of how email segmentation and effectively targeting specific consumers can significantly boost your business.

After all, if you’re offering your customers a product or service that’s more likely to appeal to a selected audience, the chances of them buying increase, right?

That said, figuring out the best way to create an email marketing strategy can be a huge undertaking.

To make it a little less daunting, this post shows you 14 quick email marketing segmentation tactics you can use today.

Key Takeaways

  • Email segmentation involves dividing email subscribers into groups based on preferences, demographics, and buying behavior.
  • Using email segmentation gives you better engagement, response, and deliverability.
  • Types of email segmentation include preferences, buying behavior, location, engagement rates, lifestyle, and age.
  • Effective email marketing segmentation helps you optimize each message for different customer segments, creating a personalized experience that resonates with each reader.
  • You can segment customers in several ways, including location, buying behavior, and cart abandonment.

What Is Email Segmentation?

An infographic on the path of personalized emails.

Email marketing segmentation divides your subscribers into smaller, more targeted groups. You can segment your list in several ways, such as what they buy (buying behavior), what they’re into (interests), or where they’re from. This way, you send subscribers content that matters to them and that they’re more likely to engage with. 

When you get super-specific with your content, you can boost your open, click-through, and conversion rates

Take Disney’s Passholder Scheme, for example. It uses data to send out info tailored to where you live and the kind of pass you have. Plus, after you visit, they can hit you up with emails that really speak to you as a Passholder, like time-limited discounts and free resort parking.

What Are the Benefits of Email Segmentation?

Every subscriber has unique interests, needs, and preferences, which is why segmenting works so well with email marketing for e-commerce. Let’s check out some of the perks of email segmentation below:

  • Better engagement: Email marketing segmentation lets you target subscribers based on their interests. When you send them these types of emails, they’re more likely to engage with you.
  • Better response rates: Targeting emails to specific folks means they’re getting the messages that matter to them. This can increase open and click-through rates and, ultimately, conversions.
  • Improved deliverability: By aiming for the right targets, you have a smaller chance of triggering spam alerts, assisting your deliverability.
  • Making customers happy and loyal: By sending emails that speak to your customers, you get happier buyers who will likely be back for more.
  • More bang for your buck: Segmenting helps your emails work harder, meaning you get a better return on each campaign.

1. Demographics

Many marketers begin their email marketing segmentation strategy by using demographic data, such as age, gender, company position, and income level to understand a person’s needs.

The more information you can gather about your audience during the sign-up process, the more options you’ll have for demographic segmentation. However, be careful, as asking for too much information can scare people off from signing up.

Decide which metrics are most essential for your business and include those questions in the sign-up process to collect relevant information like:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Family
  • Income
  • Education
  • Social status
  • Life stage
  • Occupation 

For example, if you’re a B2B software developer, the company position would be an important demographic. If you’re a clothing retailer, gender would be extremely valuable. Add 1-3 of your business’s most relevant demographic factors (or more, depending on the complexity of your segmentation needs).

2. Survey or Quiz Results

One of the simplest ways to segment by demographics is through your website forms. Your email marketing platform allows you to customize the email sign-up questions or use a plugin to create opt-in boxes.

If you use a tool like Campaign Monitor, demographic segmentation is a part of the email builder

You can even put together a survey or quiz for targeted email marketing. You would segment subscribers who give similar answers and tailor your email marketing to these groups.

Here’s an example from Starbucks

A quiz in a Starbucks email.

It’s easy to create a quiz with free tools like SurveyMonkey and Google Forms. If you’re using Aweber, you can create a free survey with Google Documents, Survey Monkey, or SurveyGizmo and then integrate them into your Aweber emails.

Once you’ve done that, it’s time to analyze the data with software. Alternatively, you’ll find sentiment analytics in Google Sheets or Excel. From there, you can get valuable demographic information and insights into individual tastes, preferences, and beliefs.

Remember to keep your audience in mind when designing quizzes. Here’s another great example from Keto Cycle. It asks questions like:

  • How familiar are you with the Keto diet?
  • How much time do you have every day for meal prep?
  • What foods do you like?

This lets Keto Cycle hook up their subscribers with emails and diet plans that match their understanding, schedule, and food cravings.

3. Email Engagement

Looking at your email engagement stats is another way to introduce email marketing segmentation.

Open rate and click-through rate are the main metrics here.

Here, for instance, you could focus on subscribers who engage and target them more precisely. For example, send an email announcing an upcoming sale and categorize everyone who clicks through as “interested.” Then, create a special campaign to further target them as likely buyers for the sale.

If you use Mailchimp, segmenting by engagement is simple:

How to create an email segment.

Just fill out the filters, click on “Preview Segment,” and you’re done!

That’s engagement covered, but what about location? Another way to use email marketing segmentation is by geographical area.

Logistics firm Aramex uses geographical segmentation. The business has a customer base in over 20 locations, so it naturally wanted to provide customers with location-specific details in real-time.

Aramex used software to segment its audience into 20-plus different countries. From there, it delivered prospects customized pages, locally relevant content, and personalized discount codes.

The result? An impressive 41.18 percent increase in conversions.

Other ways companies can use geographic data include:

  • Time-based email messages. Stagger your emails to send them out at optimum times for customers in different time zones.
  • Advertising regional promotions. Send focused emails for events in certain store locations.
  • Live webinar or AMA (Ask Me Anything) invitations. Adjust event timing based on audience location.
  • Personalized travel directions. Customize directions to a store or event based on the reader’s geolocation.
  • Where a customer shops. Send out offers specific to the physical store a buyer frequents.
  • Location-specific content. Use a location in your headlines or content to draw attention and offer a personalized experience.

4. Past Purchases

Another easy-to-implement email marketing segmentation strategy is to look at past purchases.

When you know what appeals to specific customers, you can email recommendations for similar items or accessories that would go well with their previous buys.

Alternatively, if a customer buys something that requires replacement, refilling, or renewal, you can send targeted emails to fulfill their potential needs.

If you’re using Mailchimp, you can use the Shopware plugin and filter by products purchased.

The shopware plugin in Mailchimp.

This is perhaps one of the most obvious email marketing segmentation strategies. By viewing the purchase history, you can understand what:

  • your customers want
  • they buy most often
  • accessories or repeat purchases they might need

Using purchase history as a basis for segmentation also gives you valuable insights into each customer’s behavior: what they like, what they don’t, how long ago they last purchased from you, and more. You can use this data to create personal messages encouraging customers to buy again or even upgrade their current products.

5. Amount Spent

If you sell a range of high and low-dollar items, the amount spent can be an excellent segmentation strategy.

Use customer expense history to determine which customers are likely to buy more expensive items and customers who show an interest in affordable, low-dollar items.

Then, you can send targeted email marketing featuring products within each person’s budget.

An excellent example of this is the meal kit delivery firm Blue Apron. On its website, it offers recipes for several segments, including:

  • Chef Favorites
  • Wellness
  • Family-friendly meals
  • Fast & Easy
  • Veggies

You could easily transfer this approach to your email segmentation, offering a range of products you base on typical spending patterns.

6. Position in the Sales Funnel

You can also use email segmentation depending on where your audience is in the sales funnel.

Someone at the top of the funnel should receive different targeted emails than those at the bottom.

For example, for a group of brand-new subscribers, their emails should be more generalized, giving a range of the products or features you offer, such as a series of welcome emails introducing them to the brand.

However, suppose they’ve been on your list for a while now and only interact with certain email content (such as clicking through a link). In that case, you can use this information to determine your customers’ precise interests and send more targeted email marketing on that product or service.

7. Website Behavior

Tracking is another simple way to get more information about visitors’ interests.

For example, you can start personalizing your emails around the specific pages they visited, but that’s far from the only option. The sheer amount of behavioral data you can gather now is pretty impressive. There are also some great tools to help, like:

  • Kissmetrics: the tool provides powerful segmentation capabilities that allow businesses to break down user data into meaningful chunks and identify key trends in customer behavior.
  • Google Analytics 4 allows users to track various aspects of their website, such as page views, visitor sources, and user behavior. It also offers detailed reports on visitors’ activities, including page views, session duration times, and location details.
  • Adobe Analytics: this web analytics tool lets companies gain insight into their customers’ behavior and make better data-driven decisions. You can use the analysis to help increase engagement, conversions, and user experience.

Another tool is the ‘Goals’ feature in Mailchimp, enabling you to send out targeted email marketing based on website activity, including:

  • Pages people visited
  • Pages they didn’t visit
  • People who visited one page but missed another related page
  • What videos they watch (and how long do they watch them)

Set up Goal Autoresponders with Mailchimp, and you can send out automatically targeted emails based on the content people did or didn’t engage with on your website.

Note:there may be changes to the ways these tools track data due to Google’s cookies. For instance, Adobe details some of the potential data  — we’ll keep you posted.

8. Time Since Last Purchase

Time since last purchase is a valuable email segmentation strategy. It doesn’t make sense to lump a customer who last bought from you months ago in with one who bought something last week.

Instead, you could split them up into two major groups:

1. Frequent Buyers: This group purchases something from you at least monthly. They like your brand and show interest in your products, so you target them by:

  • Upselling products or plan upgrades.
  • Offering promotional deals.
  • Promoting new features or products.

2. One-time Customers

This group bought one of your products six months ago but hasn’t returned. Or maybe they used to be a frequent buyer but fell off the grid.

The first step is to analyze your customer data. For example, look carefully at:

  • When a buyer purchased a product and if they’re repeat buyers
  • The products they buy
  • How much they spend
  • when they bought items

Then, you can send targeted email marketing that draws them back to your brand by:

  • Offering personalized discounts on former purchases
  • Highlighting the company’s positive attributes
  • Sending reminders to renew/repurchase
  • Offering upgrades/accessories

9. Personal Interests

You can get to know your customers much better when you break them down into customer personas. 

Gather this information through surveys or quizzes or use behavioral data to find the sort of products customers buy regularly. 

In your surveys, ask customers questions like:

  • Would you like personalized recommendations?
  • What content makes you happy? (Articles, infographics, videos, podcasts, etc.)
  • Any hobbies or activities you enjoy? Share them with us!
  • What kind of brands do you love and what kind of emails catch your eye?

And don’t forget, you can create custom subscriber preferences with email marketing tools like Campaign Monitor.

Tracking permission in Campaign Monitor

Then, just add the preferences tags to every email you send out.

10. Abandoned Shopping Carts

This may be a less obvious email segmentation strategy, but why not target your customers by cart abandonment?

The Baynard Institute says the average cart abandonment rate is 69.99 percent. As the Institute explains, there are multiple reasons for this, including:

  • Browsers making price comparisons
  • Shoppers put off by extra costs (shipping, etc.)
  • Consumers exploring gift options
  • Buyers saving items for later

That’s where cart abandonment presents an opportunity. You can send out a follow-up email reminding them that their cart is still available:

Here’s a nice example from Sports Direct:

A sports direct segmented email.

The email is all about nudging users to click through without hard selling; it even has an enticing call to action button to help seal the deal. You could also throw in an offer, like a small discount or free shipping, to get your customer to hit the buy button.

Another way you could use email segmentation is by using your data and analytics to understand:

  • When customers abandon their carts
  • What items they leave behind
  • How often it happens

For instance, if the data reveals that specific customer segments are more likely to abandon their carts after discovering shipping costs, you could offer free shipping for orders over a particular value or provide alternative shipping options.

11. Job Roles (for B2B)

By introducing email marketing segmentation of your customers by job role, you can easily personalize your messages to meet the needs of a specific audience.

The first step in segmenting customers by job roles is identifying the most relevant categories for your target audience. For example, depending on the type of products or services you offer, you could focus on the following:

  • C-suite executives
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Creatives

From there, you can create separate lists for better-targeted email marketing with bespoke content purely for that audience.

12. Entry Point

Entry points refer to the initial way a customer interacts with your brand or service. It could be through:

  • An advertisement
  • A referral from another customer
  • A sign-up form on your website

By identifying customers by their entry point and using email segmentation, you can develop content that speaks directly to their interest levels and buying habits.

13. Device Usage

With all the tech tools out there, it’s a good idea to split up your customers according to the devices they like to use, such as:

  • Desktop
  • Mobile
  • Tablet

Just one thing, though: You’ve got to ensure your email designs and fonts are easy to read online and use responsive templates for different screen sizes. 

Make sure you adjust your email designs so they’re responsive, too.

You can also make your emails more mobile-friendly by:

  • Reducing image sizes.
  • Keeping it short and sweet with snappy sentences and bullet points.
  • Ensuring images are less than 600 pixels wide.
  • Keeping subject lines short (Under sixty characters)

14. Content Preferences

There’s another way to segment emails, and that’s by using content preferences. Think about it. Whether it’s the subject line or content, you ignore the emails that don’t appeal to you, right? 

I bet your subscribers do the same.

That’s where you can use email segmentation by content preference.

Just check out the stats from your email service to see what gets the most traction. Use this info to understand which subscribers prefer:

  • Blog updates
  • Product announcements/updates
  • Promotional advertising
  • Educational content, etc.

Then, segment and target your audience according to what they’re looking for. Simple!


What is an Email Segmentation?

Email segmentation refers to people with common characteristics, such as age and gender, recent purchases, or socioeconomic status.

How Do You Segment an Email Audience?

Typically, you’d focus on key areas like customers’ preferences, demographics, and buying behavior.
You can use your data to create different segments according to age, gender, location, or even interests. Once you’ve identified the segments that make sense for your business, you can create tailored messages and offers and send targeted email marketing specifically for each group.

What are the Types of Email Segmentation?

You can segment your email list by a host of things. I’ve already mentioned preferences and buying behaviors. However, you can also segment by location, engagement rates, lifestyle, and age.

What Is The Importance of Email Segmentation?

Effective email marketing segmentation can help businesses maximize their marketing opportunities by optimizing each message for different customer segments. Companies can create their marketing around a data-driven strategy, providing a personalized experience that connects with each reader. This can improve click-throughs and conversion rates.


Email marketing segmentation isn’t just for huge brands with limitless budgets. Every business owner can implement it just by analyzing their data.

The best part of segmentation? There are plenty of ways you can do it.

Segmenting your mailing list can help you target your customer base more effectively, whether it’s entry point, business contact, purchase history, or tunnel stage.

That’s excellent news for you.

The better you target your email, the more likely your subscriber is to convert, and every business owner knows that more conversions mean extra profit.

By using the ideas in this article, you can begin targeted email marketing with these easy segmentation strategies.
To increase your chances of success even further, combine these tips with some best practices for email marketing and learn to write emails that drive results.

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Neil Patel