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August 2021 | by Michael Hennessy
When it comes to email list size, quality is much more important than quantity.
Building a 100,000-person list may impress your boss or clients, but it won’t get you very far if you have abysmal open and click rates.
What if you could build a large email list and keep engagement rates high? Enter segmentation.
Segmentation consists of taking your list, and placing subscribers in different groups based on their interests, demographics, behavior, and more. You can determine which segment to place subscribers in by tracking link clicks, page visits, survey responses, and countless other data points available to digital marketers.
Based on the segments, you can send personalized email content that appeals to your subscribers’ unique interests. They only get emails relevant to the issues they care about.
If you need inspiration, email service provider and IMGE-partner Iterable has three types of segmentation you can’t ignore. Additionally, Hubspot provides a robust list of 30 ways to segment your email list.
1. You’ll see higher engagement from your subscribers. If they’re only receiving emails about what they’re interested in, they’ll be more likely to open, click, and take action. A study by Mailchimp showed that segmented campaigns had 14.31% higher opens and 100.95% higher clicks than non-segmented campaigns.
2. Your unsubscribe rate will drop. There’s nothing more annoying than getting bombarded by emails, especially if you don’t care about the content. If you segment correctly, subscribers should be getting less emails, and only the ones they want to receive.
3. You can repurpose segmented lists! Once you’ve nailed down subscribers’ interests, you can use the segments to build custom and lookalike audiences for social media advertising.
4. It can provide valuable insights for the mission of your organization or campaign. If you’re about to launch a campaign on a certain issue, but then realize your list for that issue is empty or not performing well, you may want to rethink the campaign.
There are countless other benefits to segmentation, which you might only be interested in if you get excited about databases and statistics, but there could also be some downsides.
Segmentation doesn’t happen overnight, and it isn’t an easy process (at first). Deciding how to segment your list and how to use those segments may require a deep dive into your strategy and desired outcomes.
More personalized emails mean more time is needed for planning, writing, editing, testing, and scheduling. Though once you get your segments squared away, you could set up automations for some parts of the process, like sending weekly digest emails.
You’ll also need to consistently monitor your segments’ performance. If you notice engagement rates dropping or unsubscribes rising, it may be time to ensure your workflows are functioning correctly or create more specific segments.
Effective segmentation may also require you to get rid of some emails. While shrinking your email list isn’t the goal of segmentation, continuously hitting an inactive inbox could hurt your deliverability and lead to spam issues. Although you may not want to get rid of an email it is important to realize that hitting an inactive email repeatedly will hurt your ability to get your message into the inbox of an active user. Sometimes knowing when to let go of an inactive email is the best thing you can do for your engaged user base.
Industry best practices generally recommend you only send to subscribers who have opened an email in the past 90 days. You can try to win back inactive subscribers with a re-engagement campaign, but it’s more important to value your most-engaged subscribers instead of holding on to worthless emails.
Any email list needs segmentation to truly be successful. While you may get good engagement for the first couple of blasts, people will soon get tired of your emails cluttering their inbox.
More work will be required, but the payoff for segmenting your email list is too great to pass up.
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