List Segmentation: Is It Worth It?

Blog Categories:  Email Marketing  

Everyone has heard the term “segmented list” thrown around causally — it’s trending buzzwords for email marketing. There seems to be an air around the idea that as long as your list is segmented, you have your email strategy figured out — when in fact, the opposite is true. Your strategy should drive the reason you opt to segment your list (or not).

It goes without saying that even if your strategy dictates a segmented list, segmenting can be pushed only as far as the data you’ve collected and, hopefully, organized. It cannot be emphasized enough how important it is to collect and organize data as you go, so that your tools are aligned when you’re ready to put a segmented strategy — or any email strategy — in place.

List segmentation requires a great deal of work to effectively execute, so it’s important to have a strong sense of the “why” factor. This is where strategy comes in. Based on your goals, your strategy should indicate if segmentation is an appropriate tool to better achieve your lead-nurturing goals.

To dive in a little deeper, here are some examples of why you’d want to segment your list. Sometimes segmentation is a permanent strategy, other times it’s a temporary phase of a campaign.

Temporary phase list segmentation often occurs at the time of introducing a new distribution list. For example, say you’ve been emailing to your house list (current customers) for a long period of time. You just attended a trade show, and have a new list of people you’ve networked and indicated they’d like to receive your email communications. Since your house list has been performing really well, you don’t want to muddy those metrics with a new list that has yet to establish a performance baseline.

In this instance, I’d recommend that you track these new networking leads as a separate segment within your email marketing database. That way, you won’t taint your house list’s metrics while you see how your new list performs. After emailing to this segment a handful of times, you can evaluate the list’s performance and choose either to merge the new list with your house list, permanently keep it as a separate segment, or perhaps continue emailing only a certain portion of that segment (for example, the people who regularly open your emails). Time, and taking a step back to review the list performance, will help you make a strategic judgment call.

Permanent segmentation is usually required due to differences in content or target audiences. For a very basic example, imagine you’re selling sporting equipment to teams. You wouldn’t want to send information about tennis rackets to a soccer team. So, you’d want to segment your list by sports types and promote the appropriate sporting gear to the appropriate segment.

Another segment example would be indicative of how you nurture leads — you could segment your list by prospects and current customers. Your prospect campaign would contain messaging focused on your products and/or services, and what sets you apart from your competitors. Your current customer campaign should appreciate your customers’ business and offer additional ways you can help them. The point is, by having separate segments for prospects and customers, you have the power to cater your content to the appropriate demographic. In doing so, your readers will take notice — the subtlest of details can make a campaign seem more personal.

All in all, there are many reasons why segmentation is a powerful tool to keep in your email marketing toolbox. First and foremost, however, ensure that your strategy drives segmentation on a path to relevancy resulting in better lead nurturing.

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