How Email Segmentation Can Supercharge Your E-Commerce Brand’s Campaigns

December 7, 2022
by Ashley R. Cummings

Email remains one of the most impactful methods of communicating with your customers. While it might seem a bit outdated, it’s hard to overstate how important email is for all types of e-commerce brands. 

That said, if you want to see a huge ROI, sending out email blasts to everyone in your address book is not the way to go about it. You need to personalize your emails to each subscriber. 

“When you add personalization into your email copy, amazing results happen,” says Jason Resnick, Founder of NurtureKit. “I was able to reduce the unsubscribe rate of a cohort from 30% to 13% simply by sending an email asking them what their first name is.”

60% of retail, e-commerce, and consumer goods companies are personalizing emails, and that number is increasing — to stay competitive, you need to get on board. That’s where email segmentation comes in. This process helps divide your email list into logical categories, enabling you to better target your emails to maximize their impact. 

What Is Email Segmentation?

Email segmentation is the practice of dividing your list of contacts into categories based on certain criteria. It is the single most effective strategy for email marketing campaigns, according to HubSpot. Common criteria for segmenting a list can include geographic location, interests, age, purchase history, and shopping cart status. This is just the tip of the iceberg — there are nearly endless ways to segment your list (though some are more impactful than others). 

Let’s say you sell shoes. Men’s and women’s shoe styles tend to be very different — you likely won’t get far if you send male customers emails advertising sales on women’s shoes. In fact, if you do it enough, those men might unsubscribe, and you won’t reach them at all. In this case, segmenting your list by gender makes sense. 

The goal of segmentation is to increase personalization. “Segmentation alone only goes so far,” says Resnick. “Using segmentation as a means to personalize the experience generates much more by way of conversions and revenue.”

In other words, it’s all about sending the right email to the right person at the right time. This results in a number of benefits: 

Finally, segmentation allows you to send fewer, more relevant messages to each individual — increasing their effectiveness while reducing the spam factor. This means reaching more customers and making more sales. Seriously, you can’t go wrong here. 

Tips For More Effective Email Segmentation

Email segmentation doesn’t have to be complicated, but it can feel that way when you’re new to the process. Here are some tips to get the most out of it.

Use the Right Tool

The tools you use matter. There are tons of options for email marketing, from simple tools to omnichannel marketing platforms. While most offer some degree of segmentation capability, some make it easier than others. Some of the big names in email marketing include Mailchimp, ConvertKit, Constant Contact, and Klaviyo. 

When choosing a tool, your first question should always be, “Does this do what I want?” This will likely lead you to a shortlist of tools, and from there, you can get a little more picky. 

Most email marketing tools do the same basic thing: help you create a list, segment it effectively, create emails, and send them automatically. To choose one, you need to find the right balance of features, complexity, and cost. 

Let Customers Choose Their Preferences

One of the most effective ways to segment an email list is to let your subscribers tell you what they want to receive. There are a number of ways you can go about this: 

  • When they sign up: Include options on your email signup landing page or in the signup form on your website. Going back to our shoe example, you may include options for indicating gender, preferred frequency of emails, and whether they want new product announcements in addition to deals. 
  • In your welcome sequence: You could include a brief preferences form in your welcome sequence to new subscribers, either as its own email or as part of another. 
  • When they unsubscribe: A clever way to retain potential unsubscribers is to take them to a landing page where they can opt to reduce the frequency of emails or narrow down the type of content they receive, rather than opting out of all emails. Just make sure you don’t make it too difficult for them to actually unsubscribe!
  • Provide a button in each email: You could also include a button to email preferences in each of your emails, so subscribers can find it at any time. This can also be done in addition to the above strategies. If you do this, make it a little more prominent than the usual unsubscribe link found in the fine print most brands go with. 

Letting your customers set their own preferences is effective because it takes all the guesswork out of the process. While analytics and user history can tell you a lot about a person, getting it straight from the horse’s mouth is almost always the best way to go. 

Leverage Customer Survey Results

Customer surveys are one of those rare win-win propositions. Your audience gets to tell you exactly what they think about your brand, storefront, or product. At the same time, you can gather a host of data on consumer preferences, which can then help you refine your product and improve your store. And, you can increase conversion rates by 8% by adding personalization. You can also use the data to help segment your emails.

There are a number of ways you could go about conducting a customer survey, but regardless of how you do it, there are a few basics to keep in mind:

  • Have a clear goal: Define the desired outcome of your survey in advance, and make it specific. Something like “Nail down demographics and customer preferences to better target marketing email” is much better than “Learn more about customers.”
  • Choose your questions carefully: With a specific goal in mind, you can ask the right questions to get the information you need. If you just ask your customers to tell you about themselves, they may provide a bunch of detail that makes sense to them but doesn’t help you at all. Your goal helps frame your questions.
  • Keep it short: Don’t overload your audience. Get the details you need and wrap it up. If you need a lot of information, consider breaking it out into several smaller surveys and spacing them out — if the survey is too long people may lose interest, and if you send them too frequently, they may feel bothered.

There are few better ways to learn about your audience, so don’t neglect the simple survey!

Enhance Your Engagement With Email Segmentation

Email remains an excellent way to reach customers, and email segmentation helps you make your messaging even more powerful. By properly targeting your emails, you can improve open and click-through rates, reduce unsubscribes, and make more sales.
If you need more email marketing expertise, adQuadrant can help. Our performance-obsessed e-commerce marketers are ready to partner with you to reach your customers and make more sales.


About the author: Ashley R. Cummings is a professional freelance writer and content marketing consultant specializing in e-commerce, marketing, and SaaS. Connect with her on Twitter!

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