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Segmenting Your Email List For More Sales

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If you’re running an email program for your small to mid-sized business, you may have never considered the benefits of segmenting your subscribers.  It doesn’t matter if your email list is 10,000 names or 1 million names, segmenting has enormous benefits. Segmenting allows you to silo your email promotional efforts, target your creative, measure comparable segments and test more effectively. It even saves you money by being more efficient with the email volumes you have contracted through your email service provider.

I encourage you to deliberately compartmentalize your email names into segments you created,  based on the data associated with those names and their transactional behaviors. Here are some suggestions on segmentations, and I’m shortening each segmentation name for illustrative purposes:

1.  Segmentation #1:  Customer (C) vs. Non-Customer (NC) — This silo is self-explanatory. A non-customer could also be called a lead or prospect. This is usually someone who opted into your list from a site registration form or free coupon giveaway or other method. These NC names should be treated differently—with differing offers and promotional send schedules—than Customer names. Note: “Customer” names don’t necessarily mean these names are actively “engaged” with your email program, despite them purchasing something.

2.  Segmentation #2:  Current Year Customer (CYC) vs. Prior Year Customer (PYC) — Current Year Customers are always more valuable than Prior Year Customers because they have transacted more recently. Segmenting by recency allows you to set a promotional schedule unique to CYC and their spending behaviors. It also helps you target PY promotional that may be more intent on reactivating the name – getting them to re-engage, rather than the immediacy of a sale or creating a transaction.

3.  Segmentation #3: Current Year Engaged (CYE) vs. Prior Year Engaged (PYE) – I typically define engagement as someone who has opened OR clicked in the last X days. They may not have purchased anything from us, but they have either opened my email or clicked it – meeting my definition of an “engaged” subscriber and therefore someone who is more receptive to reading my email promotions. Contrast this to a PYE who may be my files for over a year, and has not opened of clicked my emails in over a year. Segmenting by CYE v. PYE helps you with consistent inbox deliverability also.

4.  Segmentation #4: Non Engaged  (NE) names – This is a standalone silo of emails on your file that could be described as inactive. They have not opened OR clicked any email you have sent them in the last X days. Depending on how aggressive you want to be with your segmentations, I have seen 90-180 days set as filters. ISPs such as AOL, Gmail, Hotmail and others do measure name engagement as a key determinant to allowing you through to the subscriber’s inbox. Just because you have a name on your file, doesn’t mean you should be emailing it.

A good email service provider will have all the tools you need to let you (or your staff) build these segmentations on the fly, a good visual GUI, and typically a drag-and-drop canvas to make it as easy as possible. So there’s no excuse not to be segmenting. The days of “bulk and blasting” all your names and expecting incremental sales to grow is over. Not only is this ineffective, it can put you in email deliverability jail.

Don’t forget that segmenting also cuts your opt-outs and spam complaints, huge determinants of inbox placement. Remember, if you’re running an email program of any size, segmenting your names is an absolute essential.

Image:  Orange Segments by Shutterstock

About the Author

Daryl Logullo is a 13-year veteran of D2C and B2C retail ecommerce. He is currently leading a world class ecommerce team at Kellyco Metal Detectors, the world's largest metal detector superstore for outdoor hobbyists and enthusiasts, including gold, silver, treasure and relic hunters, located in the Orlando, FL.

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