• Ways to Segment Your Email Lists

Ways to Segment Your Email Lists

Email marketing used to be all the rage but with the popularity of social media on the rise, small businesses tend to forget how powerful email communication truly is. It’s not over for the e-blast just yet! Your email marketing initiatives would, however, benefit from a bit of dedicated strategy regarding how you target your list. Email segmentation is a best practice when it comes to email marketing and can help boost the effectiveness of your campaigns if done correctly.

Related: Free Email Marketing Guide

Ways to Segment Your Email Lists

Why Email Segmentation is Important

While all of your customers have one thing in common (you), they don’t have EVERYTHING in common. You’ve likely got customers that are in varying age groups, socioeconomic classes, geographic locations, etc. which means they need to be marketed to accordingly. Email segmentation allows you to tailor your messaging to appropriately engage each of these groups on the right level. Otherwise, you’ll start to see an uptick in your opt-out rates and that is not the goal here! For help with your messaging, check out our 25 Email Examples for Small Business Owners.

Key Email Segmentation Strategies

Here are seven ways you group your audiences so that you can deliver targeted messages and facilitate specific goals.

Lead Source

Grouping your email lists based on the source from which your lead came will vastly improve your campaign outcomes. For example, someone who opts into your mailing list via an online link through your blog or social media interactions versus a person who physically provided their information during an in-store purchase will require different forms of communication.

Stage of Funnel

You may also want to segment your lists according to stage of the marketing funnel. You might run an email nurture campaign to those who downloaded an eBook, with the ultimate goal of getting them to sign up for a free trial. Or, you might target leads who have completed a free trial but disengaged after that.

What does your marketing funnel look like? Learn more about creating your own marketing funnel here

Page-Level Targeting

Collecting information about the different pages of your website people visit can help segment your email lists as well. If a customer is spending quite a bit of time on a particular page, you should email them information on that topic and point them to other related pages that they’d find useful. To gain insights into the pages of your website, check out this blog post on website analytics or start with Google Analytics.

Purchase Frequency

A customer who has not made a purchase in quite some time will need to be re-engaged in a manner that a brand new customer will not. A simple way to organize based on purchase history is to segment into these categories:

  • Repeat customer – if they routinely buy from you they’re likely in the market for a promo or a product upsell. This customer would also be happy to hear of you’re offering any new products or services.
  • One-time customers – what did they buy last time? Is it something they’d likely repurchase? Send a reminder or a discount based on their purchase history.
  • Waiting-to-purchase customers – these people have visited your website several times, follow you on social media, have downloaded content from your site but have yet to spend any money. They need some special coaxing maybe in the form of a personal invitation to your shop or emails geared toward how they’ve engaged with you thus far.


A simple and easy-to-implement email segment is a birthday email! This works on so many levels. First, as we mentioned, its super easy to break your audience up by birthday. Second, it adds a personal touch to your business and helps your customers feel appreciated and like you’ve taken notice of them personally. Third, it’s an opportunity to engage them in a manner that doesn’t feel like you’re selling. You may choose to send simply a ‘happy birthday’ with no CTA or give them a birthday discount or coupon.


You don’t want to send a man promos for high heels (unless he’s purchased them in the past then, aren’t you glad you use multiple segmentation lists?!) In general, it’s safe to say that if you split your customers based on gender and it makes sense to do this based on your products/services, you’ll experience a greater success rate in conversions.


Be sure you’re not sending communications to people that they don’t apply to because of their geographical location. Segment your email lists based on zip code, city or even state depending on your service area. (Speaking of service area, if you are a service area business, are you listed as such on Google?)

Important Tips for Email List Segmentation

Keep in mind, you cannot include every segmentation factor in just one list. You’re going to have several lists that you’ll use for multiple campaigns. For instance, you may have a customer that’s on 3 lists because they’re a returning client who recently read a blog post and downloaded a coupon. Those actions qualify them for multiple lists.

Cross-referencing your records will help as well. While you want to provide your customers with all the valuable information you can, you don’t want to bombard their inboxes. Be cognizant of your communication frequencies and cross-check your lists to be sure you don’t have a single customer appearing on too many.

Targeting your email campaigns through email segmentation should elicit a positive response from your customers and save you time and resources allowing you to market strategically.


For more help with email marketing, download our free guide below:

ThriveHive combines easy-to-use tools and expert guidance to help businesses stand out and get found online. Learn more about our guided marketing and advertising solutions here.

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