Criteria You Can Use to Segment Your List

At the beginning you need to decide how you want to segment your list. Segmentation depends on the type of your online business, the volume of information you gathered about your subscribers during the sign-up process as well as on the resources you have to deliver relevant emails to each of your segments.

If you sell any products online, you may want to segment your list based on the types of products customers buy or are interested in; if you run a travel site, you may think about splitting your list based on the vacation destination interests; if you offer apparel and/or cosmetics, it may be reasonable to segment based on sex and purchase habits.

You’ll need to create separate versions of your emails or variable elements of the email. Remember that the success of an email marketing campaign is in delivering information that is as personally relevant as possible for each recipient.

Here are several criteria you can use to segment your list:

  • Product-based: if you allow the subscribers choose their areas of product interest, take care to prepare separate versions of your email newsletter targeted to each product area. The emails don’t need to be quite different. You can simply insert the relevant product name into each copy or tailor the intro note for the relevant product with the rest of the email being the same.
  • Gender-based: if you sell the products for men and women, for example, clothing, shoes, cosmetics, consider creating separate copies of your email for each gender or personalizing each email by including only relevant product items.
  • Purchase-based: if a recipient purchases a product or service, you may want to send a trigger-based email a few weeks later that promotes other similar products or services.
  • RFM-based: RFM (Recency, Frequency and Monetary Value) is a way of segmenting the customers based on their value and likeliness to purchase. The simplest way of using RFM analysis would be to send an email offering % discount for the products or services to those customers who have not purchased from you in more than six months. For your active purchasers, you can send emails more frequently than the rest of your list.
  • Domain-based: this segmentation criteria mainly applies to your AOL subscribers. Because of their unique online preferences and AOL email software client issues, we recommend sending messages optimized specifically for AOL recipients. The optimization can include:
  • special HTML emails with no graphics, but with bold text, hyperlinks, and color;
  • your company name in the Subject line (the AOL email client shows your email address in the From field, but not your name);
  • shorter Subject line to ensure that it shows completely (AOL leaves less space for the Subject line than other email clients);
  • be careful with using the 1 pixel image to track open rates. This clear .gif image will set off the image warning in AOL causing some recipients to delete the email. Why will the recipient download any pictures if the email doesn’t contain them?

Tip: If your email doesn’t contain any images (for example, pictures of the products, goods you’re selling or the like) except the 1 pixel tracking image, consider inserting your photo near your signature at the end of the message. As the alternative text for the photo you can write something like "My Photo". It won’t arouse any suspicion with the recipient and there is a chance the recipient will download the photo to see you. The tracking image will be loaded together with your photo and the open will be counted by your email tracking system.

When doing customer segmentation some large companies should take into account from dozens to hundreds of demographic and behavioral variables and use sophisticated tools and techniques. But for most small companies, getting started with list segmentation can be simple using just a few variables and still produce significant results.

The thing to keep in mind when segmenting your customers is to assess how responsible the segmented categories are. It’s important to just get started with your segmentation and then continually refine and perfect your program as you go.


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