Picture your inbox right now. How many brands have emailed you today? This week? This month? Email marketing has been happening since the inception of the email itself, and it is going strong in 2021.
To make your email marketing effective, it is vital to segment your list of contacts. The thing is, no marketing message is going to be relevant to your entire email database at the same time. Creating segmented lists helps you deliver relevant messages to the right people when they need to see them.
Let’s look at a pretty basic example. Say your company only offers one product or service – let’s say you are house cleaners. Even with just one service to market, your message will change based on where contact is within the sales cycle. Are they a brand new lead who is completely unfamiliar with your brand? A prospect that you have been corresponding with already? A customer who is using your service? Below are some examples of how messaging on just one service should be framed differently based on these different deal stages. Here are some sample email subjects for our hypothetical house cleaning company:
- New Lead: “Got a mess to deal with? We love mess. Hire XYZ Cleaners today.”
- This messaging identifies a problem and presents your brand as a solution. It is very introductory.
- Prospect: “Discounts on XYZ’s signature clean when you buy a package.”
- This messaging offers more details about a brand that the recipient is already familiar with. Plus, it offers an incentive to actually close the deal.
- Existing Customer: “Don’t wait another month before cleaning your house again.”
- This messaging is urging an existing customer to work with the brand again. There is a level of familiarity here that does not exist in the other two email subjects.
Sending any one of these emails to a different segment would not feel right to the recipient. If I am a current customer and I get an introduction email, it may be off-putting; similarly, if I have never heard of your brand before and I receive an overly familiar email, it may lead to confusion.
It is important to always segment your email list and design relevant content for each list.
Getting Started with Email Segmentation
For starters, you should always segment your list by deal stage, as addressed above. This is the most basic way to segment your email list. By delivering content that is relevant to where contact is within the sales funnel, you are subtly communicating that you are aware of them and how they are interacting with your brand. It can quickly build trust and loyalty.
Once you have segmented by deal stage, consider the different buying personas you are communicating with. Generally speaking, every brand has a handful of different customer “types” that they work with. Continuing with our cleaning company example from above, you may be marketing to anyone of the following personas:
- Busy moms who do not have time to work, raise a family, and clean the house. Your messaging should surround the fact that your service can take something off of her plate.
- Childless adults with disposable income who do not enjoy cleaning and are looking to outsource it. Your messaging here should highlight the fact that your cleaning service is absolutely top-notch.
- Elderly people who are not physically able to clean their own homes anymore. This messaging should be very compassionate. You need to convince this persona that they can trust you.
These are just a few examples. You can discover your key personas by looking at past clients who have done business with you. Pay attention to who each Customer is and what it was about the brand that led to them choosing you. Patterns will quickly emerge.
Once you have your personas segmented, segment each persona list by deal stage. Already, you should have at least half a dozen lists that should all get specific, targeted messaging.
Additionally, a part of persona building is keeping track of the key problems each persona faces. Once you know the struggles your personas are facing, you can speak directly to it every time your brand has a product or service that might solve one of their problems.
For example, let’s say XYZ Cleaners start offering personal care services like babysitting and eldercare. Which personas listed above are most likely to be interested in this new service? If you said busy moms and elderly people, you would be correct. There is no need to market care services to childless adults who would not benefit from caretaking. That being said, the messaging will differ between your busy mom list and your elderly people list since they represent different personas with different problems that your brand can solve.
Why Email Segmentation Is Worth It
Email segmentation may seem like a lot of work. Still, by doing the heavy lift of segmenting upfront, you ensure that everyone in your email database receives a message that is directly relevant to them every time. That type of audience knowledge has been known to improve conversion rates and ultimately inflate a company’s bottom line.
If you are looking to engage your audience in a meaningful way, it may be time to examine or re-examine your email segmentation lists.
How Often You Should Segment Your Lists
Persona lists are not likely to change quickly. On the other hand, the length of your sales cycle should determine how often your deal stage segmentations should be updated. Most digital marketers rely on marketing automation to auto-sort people into segmented lists. For example, when a contact’s deal stage is updated from “New Lead” to “Prospect” in the company’s CRM software, automation software could auto-move the contact to the prospect email list. This way, the contact will start receiving relevant content right away. Make sure that you consult with your sales team to know how quickly sales cycles move in your business to optimize email segments.
Email segmentation is a powerful tool. Engage your audience more by segmenting them and only sending them content that they want to see.