30 Powerful Ways to Segment Your Email List for More Engaging, Targeted Campaigns

Email list segmentation is one of the most effective ways to boost your email marketing results. By dividing your list into smaller groups based on specific criteria, you can deliver more relevant, personalized content that truly resonates.

In fact, segmented email campaigns have an open rate that is 14.32% higher and a click rate that is 100.95% higher than non-segmented campaigns, according to Mailchimp. That‘s because relevance is critical for engaging today‘s email-fatigued consumers.

But with so many ways to slice and dice your list, it can be hard to know where to start. That‘s why we‘ve compiled this exhaustive list of 30+ ways you can segment your email contacts for better, more creative campaigns.

From basic demographics to advanced behavioral triggers, these ideas will help you take your email marketing to the next level. Let‘s dive in!

Demographic Segmentation

Demographic data is the foundation of most segmentation strategies. Here are some key ways to segment based on who your subscribers are:

  1. Geographic location – Personalize content and offers based on a subscriber‘s country, state, region, city or zip code. For example:

    • Promote local events, retail stores or service providers
    • Feature location-specific products, content or imagery (e.g. winter coats for cold climates)
    • Customize language, currency and units of measure
    • Send holiday/seasonal promotions relevant to a subscriber‘s location
  2. Age – Target different age groups with tailored content, products and offers. For example:

    • Promote age-appropriate products or services (e.g. toys for kids, retirement plans for seniors)
    • Adjust language and references to resonate with different generations
    • Highlight age-specific benefits or use cases
  3. Gender – Adapt your messaging and offerings based on gender. For example:

    • Feature gender-specific products or categories
    • Use gender-specific language, images and color schemes
    • Promote gender-specific events or initiatives
  4. Marital/family status – Segment subscribers who are single, married, parents, etc. and market accordingly. For example:

    • Promote family-sized products or vacation packages to parents
    • Offer date night ideas or couples‘ gifts to married subscribers
    • Feature solo travel or "treat yourself" offers for singles
  5. Income level – Estimate a subscriber‘s purchasing power based on income data and adjust promotions accordingly. For example:

    • Promote high-end, luxury products to affluent segments
    • Offer budget-friendly options to lower-income groups
    • Provide financing or payment plan options based on income
  6. Education level – Personalize content based on a subscriber‘s level of education. For example:

    • Share beginner-friendly explainers for less educated segments
    • Promote advanced webinars or white papers to highly educated groups
    • Feature alumni events/discounts based on a subscriber‘s alma mater

Psychographic Segmentation

Go beyond demographics to understand your subscribers‘ interests, attitudes and motivations. Here are some ways to segment based on psychographics:

  1. Interests/hobbies – Cater to a subscriber‘s personal interests for more engaging campaigns. For example:

    • A pet store promoting dog toys to dog owners and cat toys to cat owners
    • A cooking app segmenting by dietary preference (vegan, paleo, etc.)
    • A bookstore curating recommendations by genre preference
  2. Buyer persona – Group contacts that fit a target customer profile and message them accordingly. For example:

    • A B2B brand segmenting by decision-maker personas like "HR Helen" or "Marketer Mary"
    • A fashion retailer targeting "Fashionista" vs. "Bargain Hunter" personas
  3. Content interests – Promote content around topics a subscriber has shown interest in through email clicks, page views, or downloads. For example:

    • Sending SEO-related offers to subscribers who downloaded an SEO ebook
    • Spotify suggesting playlists similar to a user‘s listening history
  4. Values/beliefs – Connect with subscribers who share your brand values on social, political or environmental issues. For example:

    • Patagonia promoting its eco-friendly mission to sustainability-minded segments
    • A nonprofit rallying subscribers who expressed interest in a certain cause

Behavioral Segmentation

Behavioral data provides powerful insights into a subscriber‘s intent, preferences and relationship with your brand. Segment based on actions like:

  1. Email engagement – Monitor metrics like opens, clicks, and replies to gauge a subscriber‘s interest. For example:

    • Sending re-engagement offers to inactive subscribers who haven‘t opened in 60 days
    • Inviting your most active subscribers to be brand ambassadors or affiliates
  2. Website behavior – Use web tracking to see what pages, products, or features a subscriber has interacted with. For example:

    • Retargeting subscribers who visited a specific product page with an email promotion
    • Suggesting users try a certain app feature based on their in-app activity
  3. Past purchases – Analyze a customer‘s purchase history to predict future needs and interests. For example:

    • Promoting compatible accessories following an initial product purchase
    • Upselling a higher-tier version to a subscriber who bought an entry-level product
    • Sending replenishment reminders when a consumable product is likely to run out
  4. Purchase frequency – Adjust your cadence and strategy based on how often a customer buys. For example:

    • Sending "we miss you" offers to win back one-time buyers
    • Rewarding frequent shoppers with a loyalty program
    • Inviting seasonal buyers (e.g. around holidays) to purchase during off-peak times
  5. Cart abandonment – Follow up with visitors who added items to their cart but didn‘t complete checkout. For example:

    • Sending a sequence of reminder emails with increasingly compelling offers
    • Recommending alternative or complementary products to overcome objections
    • Surveying abandoners to understand what prevented them from purchasing
  6. Average order value – Identify and target your highest-value customers. For example:

    • Offering personalized concierge service to shoppers with an AOV over $1,000
    • Providing exclusive offers or experiences to top spenders
    • Suggesting higher-value product bundles to increase AOV over time
  7. Customer lifetime value – Focus on retaining and growing your most profitable long-term customers. For example:

    • Giving VIP treatment to high-CLV customers with special perks or discounts
    • Encouraging more frequent purchases with an ascending rewards program
    • Involving top customers in product research or beta tests
  8. Satisfaction score – Leverage feedback from surveys like Net Promoter Score to improve the customer experience. For example:

    • Thanking promoters and asking them for a review or testimonial
    • Reconnecting with passives to turn them into enthusiastic fans
    • Offering detractors a special deal or gathering more info to resolve their issues

Customer Journey Segmentation

Meet your subscribers where they are in the customer journey – from awareness to purchase to advocacy. Some ideas:

  1. Subscriber status – Treat prospects, first-time buyers, loyal customers and evangelists differently. For example:

    • Nurturing prospects with educational welcome series about your brand and products
    • Onboarding new customers with tips to get the most out of their purchase
    • Surveying repeat buyers for feedback and product ideas
    • Mobilizing brand advocates with a referral or affiliate program
  2. Funnel stage – Align your messaging to a subscriber‘s stage in the marketing/sales funnel. For example:

    • Attracting top-of-funnel subscribers with ungated blog content and social proof
    • Engaging middle-of-funnel leads with webinars, case studies and product demos
    • Converting bottom-of-funnel prospects with free trials, pricing info and consultation offers
    • Delighting customers post-purchase with onboarding, support and retention touches
  3. Buyer journey touchpoints – Integrate email with the full customer experience across channels. For example:

    • Triggering an onboarding email after a free trial signup on your website
    • Sending a feedback survey after a customer support live chat
    • Delivering a promo code via email after an in-store purchase
    • Retargeting email subscribers with relevant Facebook ads
  4. Customer milestones – Recognize and celebrate key moments in the customer relationship. For example:

    • Sending a welcome gift to new subscribers
    • Awarding a surprise discount on a customer‘s 1-year anniversary
    • Upgrading a customer to VIP status after they hit a purchase milestone
    • Featuring customers in a "member spotlight" after a certain engagement level

Contextual Segmentation

Use segmentation to add contextual relevance to your campaigns based on a subscriber‘s environment, situation or needs. Some ideas:

  1. Timing – Adjust send time and frequency based on a subscriber‘s time zone, typical online hours, or expressed preferences. For example:

    • Sending emails at 9am local time for each time zone segment
    • Emailing B2B subscribers only during business hours (9-5 M-F)
    • Allowing subscribers to choose their preferred email frequency and timing
  2. Device – Optimize email design and content based on a subscriber‘s preferred device. For example:

    • Using a mobile-friendly single column layout and larger fonts for smartphone users
    • Including more images and interactive elements for tablet users
    • Hiding certain content (e.g. long text blocks) from mobile users
  3. Current events – Leverage timely events and trends in your subscriber‘s world. For example:

    • Promoting snow shovels and winter gear ahead of a forecasted blizzard
    • Offering a playoff discount to a team‘s fan base during a championship run
    • Newsjacking a hot topic with relevant thought leadership content
    • Tying your product to a timely pop culture moment or meme
  4. Language/culture – Localize content for different language and cultural groups on your list. For example:

    • Translating emails into a subscriber‘s preferred language
    • Featuring culturally-specific imagery and references (e.g. local celebrities)
    • Timing promotions around regional holidays and observances

Integrative Segmentation

Combine different segmentation criteria for a more holistic, multidimensional view of your subscribers. Some advanced applications:

  1. Demographic + Behavioral – Layer behavioral data onto demographic segments for more precise targeting. For example:

    • Promoting a new product to millennial subscribers who bought a similar item
    • Cross-selling business software to small businesses that attended a recent webinar
  2. Persona + Journey Stage – Deliver persona-specific content tailored to a subscriber‘s place in the funnel. For example:

    • Sending CIO-focused case studies to Director+ leads in the consideration stage
    • Providing checklists to help "Marketing Mary" leads implement your solution post-purchase
  3. Behavioral + Contextual – Combine past actions with in-the-moment context for timely, targeted messaging. For example:

    • Upselling a first-class upgrade to a frequent flier who just booked economy
    • Suggesting rain boots to a customer who recently bought an umbrella on a rainy day
  4. Predictive – Use machine learning to anticipate a subscriber‘s needs based on multiple behavioral and demographic factors. For example:

    • Netflix recommending a new show based on a user‘s viewing history, ratings, and similar profiles
    • A grocery app suggesting recipes featuring items frequently bought together

By mixing and matching these segmentation strategies, you can create highly tailored campaigns that make subscribers feel seen, understood and valued. Of course, more sophisticated segmentation requires rich, clean subscriber data – so be sure to:

  • Use progressive profiling and behavioral tracking to build out your contact records over time
  • Leverage data appends and integrations to fill in missing demographic/firmographic details
  • Regularly clean your list to ensure data quality and deliverability
  • Choose an email service provider with advanced segmentation and personalization features
  • Establish a data governance process to keep subscriber info organized and up-to-date

With a data-driven, customer-centric approach to email segmentation, you‘ll be well on your way to more relevant, engaging, and high-performing campaigns. So start slicing and dicing your list today – and watch your results soar!

Massive Results Achieved by Email Segmentation

The proof is in the numbers. Check out these success stories of brands using advanced email segmentation:

  • Lyris found that 39% of marketers who segmented their email lists experienced higher open rates, 28% experienced lower unsubscribe rates, and 24% experienced better deliverability and greater revenue.

  • Mailchimp reports that segmented email campaigns have a 14.32% higher open rate and 100.95% higher click-through rate than non-segmented campaigns.

  • CafePress saw a 160% increase in total email revenue by segmenting based on purchase history and frequency.

  • Totes experienced a 7.33% increase in email click-through rates and a 15.82% decrease in unsubscribe rates by segmenting based on gender.

  • Johnny Cupcakes achieved a 141% higher click-through rate and a 42% higher conversion rate by segmenting based on customer loyalty.

  • Magazine Luiza increased email revenue by 52% by personalizing content based on subscribers‘ browsing history.

Get results like these and more by putting these email list segmentation strategies into action. Remember, the more targeted and relevant your emails, the more your subscribers will look forward to hearing from you.

So go forth and segment! Your subscribers (and your bottom line) will thank you.