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Segment your email list for better engagement

As a marketer, especially in email, the word segmentation will have popped up at least once a day. Here's how segmenting your email list for better engagement helps you win at email.


Close up photo of a bowl of Skittles representing the various members of an email list

You're always told to segment your email database, right? But, have you ever stopped to ask why?

Email marketing list segmentation is essentially the process of dividing an email list into smaller, targeted groups based on specific characteristics or behaviours. The trick to "dividing" is often hidden in the reasons why we segment an audience in the first place.


Let's kick off with a quick round-up of why email segmentation matters and discuss a few practical ways you can go about segmenting your email list for better engagement.


Yes, this is obvious, but why? Simple. We all have unique preferences, interests, and needs.

This means that sending the same communication to folks with different expectations leads to an audience whose attention you don't fully have.

By creating content tailored to these varying expectations, you'll be able to keep readers more engaged and coming back to read future emails you send.

When engaging with an email audience, some people will have interacted with your business or content at various points in time. Ask yourself this: Have they all taken the same actions? Very likely not. So why segment for this? By identifying where they are in this lifecycle, you can tailor content to people who are just learning about you, have become fans, have spent money, or have even stopped spending money and are ghosting you.


This is where segmentation can be used to send them content that gets them to the stage you want them at.

This is the most important one, isn't it? Why? Well, why else are you sending email campaigns? If your emails are sent with no end goal in mind then you're either wasting money or are simply way too nice. By serving the right audience, with the right content, at the right time, you'll make money happen.

Now that you have a fair idea of why we segment our email audience, let's look at a few practical tips about ways to segment your list.

A diverse group of people all looking at their cellphone screens with a blank expression

1. Demographic Segmentation

At the initial stages of your email marketing strategy, using demographic data to categorise your subscribers is probably a logical starting point.

Example of this information includes:

  • Age

  • Gender preference

  • Location

  • Occupation

You've likely obtained this information from where your subscribers are signing up and who you're able to reach. Demographic segmentation gives you a broad understanding of your audience and helps you align your content a little more to the generic preferences inferred about these groups of individuals.

2. Behavioural Segmentation

As your subscribers start interacting with your brand or business, utilising behavioural segmentation helps you to group them based on their actions and levels of engagement.

Examples include actions and behaviours such as:

  • Website activity

  • Email opens & clicks

  • Link and article clicks

  • Purchase history and frequency

By understanding how subscribers interact with you, you'll be able to group list members based on what you'd like them to do next.

3. Lifecycle Stage Segmentation

As subscribers progress through their journey with your business, you're going to want to adapt your email communication to their lifecycle stage and where they are in their buying journey with your business.

You have various opportunities here to segment your list into categories such as:

  • New leads or prospects (non-profitable customers)

  • Active customers and repeat buyers (profitable customers)

  • Loyalty and VIP customers (highly profitable customers.

These segments provide you with opportunities to tailor specific communication to move clients along their journey with your business by simply using email marketing tactics.

For example, new leads may require nurturing emails to familiarise themselves with your brand, while active or loyal customers might appreciate exclusive offers and loyalty rewards. This infographic contains a few e-commerce email examples that you can use at various stages of a customer's lifetime with your brand:

Infographic of the typical Customer Buying Lifecycle and the email opportunities available at each stage

4. Personalisation Based on Interests

As you gather more data about your subscribers, your opportunities lie in the segments you create around customer interests and preferences. Finding this out can be a challenge, but with the right incentives, you could utilise tools such as:

This will allow you to create content that aligns with their interests, builds stronger connections and increases the likelihood of conversion.

5. Segmentation for Re-engagement

For subscribers who have become inactive, which is quite common (no, you're not the only one getting ghosted 👻), you'll want to look to employ re-engagement campaigns to win them back. Segment this group separately and send compelling emails that entice them to rekindle their interest in your brand. These include emails such as:

  • Exclusive promotions

  • Product updates

  • Breakup emails

  • Personal check-ins

This segment can also be based on email engagement, such as opens and clicks, so keep this in mind.

6. Geographical Segmentation

With globalisation and the success of e-commerce, Geographical segmentation is being used less and less. That said, there are still opportunities within countless industries. This form of segmentation can be particularly valuable if your business caters to a diverse audience with varying regional preferences and needs. Localised content and offers can create a stronger sense of relevance and improve engagement, so don't sleep on this segment just yet.

Segmenting your list for better email engagement: Where to begin

As you can now see, there are a multitude of options for segmenting your email list. Where to start? Just begin! Begin with the information you have and decide what you can do to learn more about your audience as soon as possible. Once you know who you're speaking to and what makes them tick, you can adapt your strategy to suit their needs and bolster your engagement for a long time to come. 💌


Before you go! You'll need an audience to segment before you begin. Learn the fastest ways to grow your email list today by using the tried and tested Email Database Growth Playbook. Click here or on the image below to get your FREE copy👇


Preview of the Ultimate Database Growth Playbook for Email Marketing by Email Expert Africa

Want to become an email expert? Get our expert email guide today! Click here to find out more


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