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How to Win in Email Marketing with Email Segmentation (+27 Examples)

by Terran Mazzaglia

Professional woman at white desk mastering email segmentation for optimal organization

What is Segmentation in Email Marketing?

Market segmentation is the practice of dividing a company’s target market into distinct groups. Each group usually shares similar characteristics, behaviors, or needs. This strategy is designed to help marketers tailor their efforts to specific audiences.

In the context of email marketing, segmentation is more critical than ever. It allows businesses to send personalized content that resonates with each recipient. Thus, improving engagement, increasing open rates, and fostering customer loyalty over time.

Article Directory:

Why is Market Segmentation Essential?
How Do You Segment an Email List?
27 Brilliant Segmentation Strategies for Email
Pros and Cons of Using Demographic Data
7 Mistakes to Avoid when Segmenting

Why is Email Segmentation Essential?

In the bustling world of digital marketing, new trends such as AI and automation are setting the bar high. Amidst this evolution, one factor remains constant for successful marketing strategies: market segmentation.

Segmentation strategies help marketers keep up with ever-changing customer preferences and behaviors. It's the key that unlocks personalized customer experiences. It's the personal touch that distinguishes successful businesses in this competitive landscape.

View our Expert’s Guide to further understand the link between list segmentation and personalization.

How Do You Segment an Email List?

Segmenting emails involves several steps:

  1. Choose the Right Email Tool. Consider using a tool that offers robust list segmentation options. Email marketing platforms like Net Atlantic offer built-in segmentation settings, simplifying the process for marketers.
  2. Add Contacts or Sync Database. Ensure that your email marketing tool has access to your updated customer data.
  3. Decide on Segmentation Metrics. Select a few key metrics to segment your list by. For beginners, start simple. For instance, you can group subscribers by geography or purchasing behavior. Such as amount spent equals over $100.
  4. Do Not Ignore User Preferences. Ensure you are sharing content that aligns with what your audience signed up to see. Personalization is key.
  5. Keep Data Up-to-Date. Review and refresh your contact data for optimal segmentation. Outdated data can lead to misinformed decisions.
  6. Track Results. Track metrics like unsubscribe rate and open rate to adjust your strategy as needed.

A comprehensive list of 17 default market segmentation options provided within Net Atlantic's email solution

Image: screenshot of the default email segmentation options offered by Net Atlantic

If you send regular email campaigns, it’s a good idea to audit your email marketing strategy.

27 Brilliant Email Segmentation Strategies for Marketers

A customer segmentation strategy is the key to understanding your email list subscribers. In this section, we will explore 27 unique tactics for email marketers to test in any industry.

Subscriber Information Segments:

Alphabetical Order: Dividing subscribers into smaller groups based on their first or last names can make your marketing more manageable. You can stagger your email send-outs and ensure that your messages aren't overwhelming.

Subscriber Age: Age and generation play a crucial role in targeted email. If you sell retirement-related products or services, segmenting your list by age can help target those who are more likely interested in retirement products.

Subscriber Location: Location data of your list members provides valuable indirect information, such as weather forecasts and time zones. For example, a clothing company sends rain jacket promotions to subscribers in rainy states. Creating a timely and personalized message.

Subscription Age: Segmenting email addresses by subscription age enables targeted content delivery. New subscribers receive introductory material, while advanced content is reserved for long-term subscribers.

Subscription Source: Where the person joined your email list can inform you about their initial interests. A subscriber who joined from Instagram may not be interested in your latest Blog post. Yet may be more inclined to open an email mentioning a social media giveaway.

Behavioral Engagement Segments:

Cart Abandonment: If a subscriber adds items to their cart but doesn't complete the purchase, use this opportunity to remind them. Send follow-up special offers, or offer help with any questions they may have.

Click-Through Rate: List members who click on links are valuable because they are more likely to convert into a customer. Send subscribers who have clicked on a link within the last 30 days a follow-up campaign. Add new information and enticing offers to tempt them to make a purchase.

Conversion Rate: These are the people who have clicked on a link in your email, but also completed a desired action. Such as purchasing a product, filling out a form, or downloading content. Send them product or content recommendations personalized to their interests to make the most out of their brand loyalty.

Engagement Level: Segmenting by engagement level can provide more accurate campaign metrics for smaller lists. For example, separate non-engaged subscribers from engaged ones. Then, craft a persuasive message for the engaged email segment to test your offer's effectiveness.

Email Frequency: It's vital to know your subscribers' email frequency preferences to avoid inundation or delays. Incorporate opt-down options in your unsubscribe menu to understand preferred timing and volume.

Feedback Rating: Use data from customer interactions, reviews, and surveys to create win-back email campaigns. Each sequence should aim to find out why some customers are unsatisfied, and how to improve their experience.

Inactive Subscribers: Create an email segment for non-engaged subscribers to identify who needs re-engagement or removal from the main list. Develop a re-engagement campaign for inactive subscribers (90+ days) with a compelling offer. This process can be automatically triggered based on predefined criteria.

Lead Magnet: Subscribers who joined through a custom landing page or free offer are interested in that topic. Double down on their interest and send relevant emails to get their attention.

Lifestyle: Understanding your audience's hobbies and lifestyle can help you tailor offers effectively. For instance, if you're marketing outdoor equipment, split your list based on interests like fishing or sports. This lets you send targeted product recommendations, boosting engagement.

New Subscribers: These could be people who have joined your list within the last 30 days, week, or even 24 hours. Send new subscribers a welcome message first, then offer a special discount or promotion. Make sure to mail them your top performing content to earn the most engagement and build loyalty.

Open Rate: A popular metric to segment by as it allows marketers to understand who is interested in the content. Send shoe-related messages to subscribers who open shoe emails but ignore sweatshirt promotions. You can also set up re-engagement campaigns for those who haven't opened your emails in a while.

Purchase Amount: Segment your email list by purchase amount to identify high-value customers. Send personalized messages that make them feel valued. For example, offer reward points or exclusive discounts based on their previous purchases. For customers with small purchases, provide incentives to encourage larger purchases.

Purchase History: Use subscribers' purchase history to personalize email campaigns for past customers. Send accessory or related product recommendations to show your appreciation for their time.

Demographic and Firmographic Segments:

Company Revenue: Understanding a company's revenue helps you suggest the right product or service for their budget. For a marketing agency, a company making $1 million a year might spend 2-5% on marketing. This means they may have a marketing budget of $20,000 - $50,000.

Company Size: Knowing your subscribers' company size, typically measured by employee count, helps tailor messages that align with their priorities. Small business employees may want discounts, while large company employees may prefer a case study from a similar client.

Education Level: The education level of your subscribers can be crucial for customer segmentation. Especially if your product or service is high-end or requires certain expertise. Segmenting by education can help ensure your message is appropriate.

Income Level: This group is popular as it helps businesses gauge how much a customer might spend. Send costly luxury items to those who can afford it, while making cheaper products attractive to those with less income.

Industry: In B2B, every industry has different pain points, interests, and relevant news. By sorting your contacts by their business type, you can send specific emails about your products or services that fit their needs.

Job title: Group customers by their job title to better predict who might buy your product. If you're selling software for accountants, focus on targeting top financial roles like CFOs or VPs of Finance - they're the ones who can actually buy your product.

Technical Factors:

Device Type: Knowing how your subscribers open emails can help optimize content for a better user experience. If most use mobile devices, use a mobile-responsive template with a simplified design.

Inbox Provider: The type of inbox your subscribers access their email with can impact email delivery, optimization, and flagging issues. Segmenting by inbox provider enables better management of your delivery strategy. For example, if the open rate of Outlook list members declines, that is a signal to double check your content.

Mailbox Provider: The subscriber's email client can also affect email delivery and display. Some providers, like proofpoint and mimecast, prioritize filtering out spam emails. For B2B mailers, this can prevent spam flagging and ensure your message reaches its intended recipients.

Pros and Cons of Using Demographic Data in Your Email Segmentation Strategy

While demographic data is useful for basic segmentation, relying on this data can lead to missed opportunities. Incorporating psychographic or geographic data will help you understand your audience better.



Easy to collect and analyze

Might not capture complete customer behavior

Provides a broad overview of the target market

Could lead to stereotyping and assumptions

Can help tailor marketing messages to specific age, gender, or location groups

Does not consider psychographic factors like interests, attitudes, and lifestyles

Widely available and relatively accurate

May oversimplify and overlook nuances in customer needs

Great for targeting large, generalized groups

Less effective for personalized marketing strategies

This table is just a starting point, each industry will have unique circumstances that may shift the balance of these pros and cons.

7 Mistakes to Avoid When Segmenting Your Email List

List segmentation is not foolproof, and marketers often fall into these common traps:

  1. Over segmentation
  2. Insufficient segmentation
  3. Lack of Data Analysis
  4. Ignoring Engagement Metrics
  5. Failure to Align Segmentation and Content
  6. Over Reliance on Automation
  7. Poor Email List Management
  1. Over-segmentation. Creating too many segments can lead to a difficult-to-manage email marketing strategy. It is important to strike a balance between segmentation and practicality. Focus more on segments that have a meaningful impact on campaign performance.

To avoid over-segmentation, marketers can:

  • Identify important factors like age, purchase history, and engagement rate to differentiate segments.
  • Consolidate segments with similar characteristics, or if they have overlapping needs or behaviors.
  • Concentrate resources on high-potential segments to drive better results.
  1. Insufficient Segmentation. On the flip side, using only broad segmentation or failing to segment at all can result in generic and irrelevant messaging. It’s essential to dig deeper into behavioral, psychographic, or other relevant segmentation factors.

To prevent insufficient segmentation, marketers can:

  • Delve into behavioral, psychographic, firmographic, or transactional data to identify new segmentation opportunities.
  • Conduct market research to learn about customer needs, pain points, and preferences.
  • Review and refine segments based on evolving customer behaviors and feedback to ensure relevance.
  1. Ignoring Engagement Metrics. Not tracking and analyzing engagement metrics for each segment can prevent optimization opportunities. Monitor performance to identify segments that need adjustments or specific targeting strategies.

To keep up with changing data, marketers can:

  • Regularly review key engagement metrics such as open rates, click-through rates, and conversions.
  • Analyze underperforming segments to understand why they are not responding to campaigns.
  • Adjust messaging to address the specific needs and preferences identified in underperforming segments.
  1. Lack of Data Analysis. Neglecting to understand the data available about subscribers can lead to ineffective segmentation. Leveraging this data is crucial to making informed decisions.

To avoid a lack of understanding, marketers can:

  • Collect data from different sources like email engagement, website analytics, and customer surveys.
  • Take advantage of analytics tools to gain insights into customer behavior, preferences, and purchasing patterns.
  • A/B/n split test each segment to improve targeting accuracy and campaign performance.
  1. Failure to Coordinate Segmentation and Content. Misalignment between segmentation and content can result in irrelevant or inconsistent messaging. Ensure that the content aligns with the audience’s specific needs, interests, and stage in the customer journey.

To coordinate content, marketers can:

  • Develop detailed customer personas based on segmentation criteria. Include their needs, pain points, and communication preferences.
  • Align content creation to each segment’s unique characteristics to provide value to the target audience
  • Use dynamic content to deliver personalized messages to various groups inside a single campaign.
  1. Over Reliance on Automation. Over-reliance on automation without human oversight can lead to errors or missed opportunities. Balance automation with human review and decision-making to ensure quality control.

To avoid autmation errors, marketers can:

  • Review and update automated email sequences to ensure they remain relevant and personalized.
  • Include manual check-ins to ensure automated messages align with marketing goals.
  • Implement a customer feedback system to help track and improve each sequence.
  1. Poor Email List Management. Not monitoring and iterating on segmentation strategies is the most common segmentation mistake.

To properly manage an email list, marketers can:

  • Clean your email list regularly. Remove inactive subscribers, fix invalid emails, and honor unsubscribes.
  • Leverage engagement metrics to create segments based on activity to create custom messaging.
  • Use a double opt-in process to ensure that subscribers actively confirm their interest. This will cut the risk of spam complaints or low engagement.

The Difference Between Email Segmentation and Personalization

Email personalization takes segmentation a step further by tailoring content to the individual.

It means using specific information about the person receiving the email to make the message more personal. Instead of sending the same message to a group of people, you would use the person's name. Talk about their interests or previous interactions, and suggest products they might like based on what they prefer.

This makes the person feel more connected, leading to stronger relationships and loyalty to the brand.

Key Differences Between Email Segmentation and Personalization:

Email Segmentation:

  • Divides the email list into distinct groups based on shared characteristics or behaviors
  • Targets multiple recipients within each segment with similar content
  • Tailors messages for specific audience subsets, delivering more relevant content
  • Improves engagement and conversion rates with targeted promotions

Email Personalization:

  • Tailors content uniquely for individual recipients using recipient-specific data
  • Creates personalized messages, using the recipient's data like name or past interactions
  • Recommends products or services based on individual preferences, creating a one-to-one communication experience
  • Fosters stronger customer relationships and brand loyalty by deepening the personal connection

Remember, part of the process is minimizing mistakes. Review the most common email marketing mistakes to ensure an optimized strategy.


In the evolving world of online advertising, dividing your audience into groups, or "market segmentation," is always a smart move. This way, businesses can send messages that feel personal, making customers more loyal.

Though there can be hiccups, these strategies open up new chances for success. By understanding their audience better, marketers can send messages that people really care about, leading to business growth and happy customers.



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