Everything You Need to Know About Email Segmentation

People receive, on average, more than 120 emails every single day. Managing an email inbox has become part of just about every job description on the planet. People don’t want — and don’t have time — to read emails that seem boring, irrelevant, or worst of all, like spam.

But if you’re a B2B company, email is a core part of your outreach strategy. And much of the time, those emails are cold. So how do you make sure your emails are being noticed, let alone read?

The answer: email segmentation.

Email segmentation has become a necessity for marketing and sales teams to connect with both current and potential customers. It enables you to maximize the ROI on your email outreach by segmenting lists strategically, personalizing your emails, and optimizing messaging relevance for each audience. Ultimately, it means more people are paying attention to what you send them.

In this article, we’ll do a quick overview of email segmentation and dive into the most important things you need to know about how to execute it successfully.

Quick Takeaways

  • Research shows that segmented campaigns perform better than non-segmented campaigns across a wide range of marketing KPIs.
  • High-quality, comprehensive data is the foundation for any effective email segmentation strategy.
  • Personalization should go beyond name and surface-level attributes that grab attention, focusing instead on making messages meaningful.
  • Automation significantly enhances the speed and scope of email segmentation efforts.

Email segmentation: quick facts and figures

People are smarter and savvier than ever when it comes to recognizing marketing emails (and, unfortunately, sending many of them straight to trash). Tactics that may have worked in the past — like tricky subject lines designed to seem personal — are no longer effective and can even annoy people who receive them.

Today, it’s all about authenticity. People know that they’ll receive marketing emails, but they don’t mind if those emails contain content that’s relevant and valuable to them. Email segmentation allows marketers to drill down into very specific attributes about a customer, ensuring that they only receive messages that add real value.

Research by Mailchimp that explored thousands of email campaigns found that segmented campaigns performed markedly better than generic blasts.

The numbers speak for themselves:

What you need to know about email segmentation

You need great data

Data is at the foundation of your email segmentation strategy. Without great data, your ability to segment will be limited. Think about the ways you collect data from your subscribers. You get data from online forms, orders, social media pages, website activity and more. But what do you ask for from customers? What do you track indirectly?

You should always be intentional about the data you collect and how you track it. In general, the more data you have, the better — you can always filter and segment it later.

There are several categories of customer data that B2B companies use for email segmentation.

types of customer data

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Demographic data is basic identifying information, including name, age, race, gender, address, and occupation.

Firmographic data groups companies according to attributes like industry or sector, number of customers, geographic location, and technologies used.

Technographic data is especially relevant for B2B companies selling product solutions. It identifies what technology tools companies already use and potential future plans and needs.

Chronographic data shows changes over time. It can be about individuals or firms. Examples include changes of address, new jobs, company acquisitions, or IPOs.

Quantitative data is any data with numerical value. It’s often collected to measure performance metrics as they relate to customer behaviors, such as email open rate or click-through rate.

Qualitative data is the opposite of quantitative. It can’t be measured numerically, and instead answers questions like “what” “why” and “how.”

Segmentation should be strategic

Considering all of the different types of data and data points you can leverage for email segmentation, there’s no reason to stick with the status quo. Every industry, company, and customer base is different, and you should segment your lists in ways that are specific to your message and goals.

While most marketers know that simple “batch and blast” methods of the past are not very effective, they often fail to dive much deeper than that in their email segmentation efforts. Any company can easily segment by active vs. inactive, but there’s so much more potential when you go beyond these surface-level categories.

Great segmentation really lies in thinking about two things: customer traits and customer needs. Think about personal attributes of your customers (both firms and the decision makers within them) and design messages to resonate with them.

Consider, too, where your customer is on their journey. Are they just starting to explore solutions? Are they ready to make a purchase? The tone and content of your message as well as your call to action should vary accordingly.

Going beyond basic segmentation methods and leaning into more strategic approaches will make your messages more relevant and valuable to your audience.

Here’s a deeper dive on segmentation architecture:

Personalization must be meaningful

Name personalization is so common today that most people recognize it for what it is — a marketing strategy — when they see it in their inboxes. While using a name can still be effective for catching attention, most recipients know it’s a pre-filled form field.

The real question to ask is: how can I personalize in ways that don’t just grab attention, but add real value? Companies are getting better and better at this. Referencing previous purchases, sending information relevant for a specific geographic area, designing unique content for each segment — these are all ways that personalization can be leveled up for better performance.

The key is not to personalize for personalization’s sake, but to do it in ways that make your content meaningful for your audience.

Automation can level up your segmentation strategy

Using an email marketing automation tool really isn’t a nice-to-have anymore, it’s a competitive necessity. Automating your email strategy saves time and refocuses your employees to high-value work that makes a bigger impact. Moreover, big data has made it so that manual list management is just no longer practical.

If you really want your email segmentation strategy to deliver, use an automation tool to optimize its speed and scope.

Our outbound email software and lead generation services are custom-built for startups, consultancies, marketing agencies, and other B2B organizations. Schedule a quick call with us and find out how we can help you win more clients.