In this guide
  1. Free ebook template: How to create a fantastic ebook in 48 hours
  2. Email Deliverability: How to Make Sure You Land in the Inbox
  3. How to customize your opt-in forms for performance and growth
  4. The power of email segmentation & how to use it
  5. Email marketing ROI: How to evaluate your email marketing with analytics

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Issue #4

The power of email segmentation & how to use it

Email Marketing
14 min read
In this Article

When it comes to your email marketing, you already have a lot working against you in a subscriber’s inbox.

Family news, party invites, and every other online business owner vying for some attention are your competition, and you’ve got to find a way to rise above the chatter. The best way to do that? Email segmentation.

The name itself might not initially sound like a strategy for increased open and click rates, but once I start to unpack it a little more, you’ll quickly see why email segmentation is going to be your new best friend. In fact, according to DMA, 77% of email marketing ROI came from segmented, targeted, and triggered campaigns in 2015. So I’m not just talking about deliverability anymore – I’m talking about product sales and money in your pocket.

Stated simply, email segmentation is the process of putting your email subscribers into different buckets and speaking to each of those groups directly. Think of it as meeting your subscribers where they’re at on their customer journey so you can send them targeted content that speaks specifically to their needs and goals at that point in time. To do that, you’re going to need to do some recon on your subscribers, but we’ll talk about that later. First let me tell you a bit more about the benefits of email segmentation.

Why you need email segmenting in your email marketing

Email segmentation is one of the key distinctions between a list that converts and one that makes it hard to reach your goals. Knowing your subscriber's backstory and how they interact with your content is key to understanding how to communicate with them and pitch your products.

For example, if you know that your subscriber is a newbie on your topic, you can specifically send them your intro level eBooks for free and put them into a sequence where you teach them the basics of your topic to gain their trust and build authority.

But if you find that another of your subscribers is more knowledgeable on your topic, you can send them one of your more complex eBooks and put them into a sequence that eventually pitches them one of your more expensive and advanced products. See how that works?

Knowing certain data points about your email subscribers will help you know where they are on their journey and can help you continue to move them along from blog reader to email subscriber to customer.

Now you know that email segmentation helps you meet your subscribers where they’re at, but here’s what segmentation actually means for your email deliverability:

Increased Open Rates

An email in an inbox is only as good as the person reading it. Having a segmented list allows you to send the same email but with custom subject lines to specific subscriber groups that appeal to their needs.

Your customers aren’t all the same person and segmentation can help you get more specific with smaller groups of your list.

Better Click-Through Rates

Once you have those custom subject lines set up for your different subscriber groups and you’ve sent your emails off, it’s up to your subscribers for the next step– click-throughs.

Setting up targeted emails alone won’t put money in the bank. You need your email subscribers to interact with your content by clicking through on links to your articles, videos, and, ultimately, your products.

ConvertKit customers with targeted segmentation often see click-through rates of as high as 10-14%. Considering the industry average across all email marketing platforms is roughly 6%, that’s at least a 66% increase. Your subscribers are also much happier as they’re now getting emails they actually want to open and click on. It’s definitely a win-win.

Maximized Conversions

When you’ve reached that trust point and are ready to send your sales email to your list, the last thing you want to see is zero conversions. If you’re emailing your entire list of subscribers who may or may not be interested in that particular offering, you risk losing them as a subscriber and you certainly risk losing the sale. You’ve got to narrow your audience based on your subject.

With good segmentation you can track who clicks on your links and then send targeted emails just to those people with a reminder about any details, some FAQs, or anything else they need to know to seal the deal. Emailing just the people who have shown direct interest is not just a smart business move, it makes you look like a real human on the other side of the computer screen too.

Less Unsubscribes

Even though unsubscribes can be good for your list health overall to get rid of un-engaged subscribers, you still don’t want to lose your subscribers at alarming rates. After all, when someone unsubscribes from your emails they’re gone for good – no more possible conversations (or conversions) with that person.

Using segmentation to your advantage will keep the number of unsubscribes to your account at a minimum. You’ll still have people who clean up their inboxes for time to time, but the more targeted you can get with the emails you send, the more likely your subscribers are to hang out.

Avoid The Dreaded SPAM Filter

The whole point of email marketing is to have the emails you send actually delivered and read, right? Spam folders are notorious for making that hard on marketers, but there are actions you can take to make it better.

Email service providers (ESPs) want to see that your subscribers are opening emails, clicking on links, sharing emails, replying to emails, marking them as important, and not immediately hitting delete. Sending targeted email content through segmentation helps you avoid being flagged by those ESPs.

Want to know more about how to increase the quality of your list and avoid the SPAM filter? Read up right here.

Hopefully now you see that email segmentation is the best way to create targeted content for your email subscribers to help with your click rates, revenue, and so much more. Now let me tell you how easy it is to create segmentation in ConvertKit.

How to segment email subscribers with tags in ConvertKit

In ConvertKit, we create segmentation by tagging subscribers and then grouping those tags together. So basically tags organize people and segments organize tags.

how segmenting your subscribers works

Tags allow you to organize and group your subscribers based on actions, interest, and more. Because we are subscriber-centric and not list-centric, you only have one list of subscribers, and tags help you keep that one list organized.

Ways you can add tags to your customers are:

  • With Link Triggers, you can add a tag when a subscriber clicks a link.
  • With certain integrations, you can add a tag based on a purchase.
  • You can import into a tag, so you know when you brought over certain subscribers

Within the ConvertKit app:

Here's a quick video that explains how to use forms, tags and segments effectively.

Check out this ConvertKit knowledge base article for a more complete look into the technical details of how to segment: How to Segment Subscribers in Convertkit

Figuring out the best way to segment your email marketing lists can be a huge undertaking. But the more you tag, the better you can target your emails with content that feels tailor made for each subscriber.

Types of subscriber data to collect for email segmentation

You could also think of tags in terms of data you collect about your subscribers. This data will help you get to know your subscribers better– what they’re interested in, where they’re from, what they want to learn from you– so that you can send them more targeted content and in turn pitch them products they actually want. Here are some tags that we suggest our customers use for collecting data for their subscribers:

subscriber data to collect is their customer journeyWhere the subscriber is at on their customer journey

Other than the basic information, this is one of the first pieces of data email marketers use to start segmenting their list. Knowing this initial starting point will help you know what level of skill, knowledge, and engagement your subscriber has with your topic. This can give you insight on everything from what kind of product to pitch to how much teaching content you need to prepare.

How to use this tag– In your introductory email, ask your subscribers what their main struggle is by offering five different options to choose from. The reader will respond by clicking on the link they identify with which will trigger a sequence that ends by pitching a product geared toward that struggle.

subscriber data to collect is what they've purchasedProducts they’ve bought/downloaded from you

The next thing you'll want to track is when subscribers purchase your product. It helps to create a tag called “Purchase: Product Name” for each product. Then Gumroad, Shopify, Teachable, or whatever other e-commerce provider you are using can add customers to that tag once they make a purchase through an automation. And don't forget to include these purchase tags in your newsletter or all subscribers segments

How to use this tag– Knowing what a subscriber has already purchased helps you in a couple different ways.

  • You can exclude that person (through their tag of Purchase: Product Name) from any further communication about that product. They don’t need your sequences that pitch that product any more since they’ve already bought it, right?
  • You can make an assumption on what other products they might enjoy based on their first purchase. You can set up a link trigger that sets them into a new sequence that pitches your subscriber that similar product.

subscriber data to collect is if they've attended a webinarWebinar attendee

People who join webinars are generally people who are excited to learn. A webinar attendee has already given you their email address so they could attend your webinar, so make sure to make the most of this list growth by adding a webinar tag to their name.

How to use this tag- You’ve most likely given away a free product or pitched something on a webinar, so you know that anyone with that tag already has a basic knowledge of who you are and what you do. You can parlay that knowledge by putting people with that tag through a sequence that teaches them more in depth on your webinar topic and ends with a hard pitch for one of your products for sale.

subscriber data to collect is if they've attended an eventEvent attendee

Don't miss the opportunity to reach out to leads and potential customers you've already made a positive connection with at a live event.

How to use this tag- Segment your email list depending on the type, topic, or theme of event or even to RSVPs who didn't make it out. You'll be able to keep inviting them to events while sharing relevant content offers based on what you learned about them from past events.

subscriber data to collect is where they signed upWhere the subscriber’s sign up form came from

Did your new subscriber sign up becuase of your podcast or video show? Did they read your guest blog post you wrote or find you through a contest you contributed a product to? Knowing the type of content your subscriber originally found you on can tell you a lot about what kind of content they like and how they like to consume it.

How to use this tag-  If a subscriber found you through your podcast, you know that you can push any products you have related to creating and hosting podcasts. If a subscriber found you through a guest post, you can create content and products that relate to the core topic of the blog that hosted your guest post (or at least reach out to more blogs in that industry to expand your audience).

subscriber data to collect is if they refer youIf they refer your products/services often

If you have customers who constantly refer you to new clients or other businesses, it’s a good idea to create a tag for them. These customers are your biggest advocates and you should give them extras from time to time.

How to use this tag- You can use these advocates as beta-testers when you have a new product coming out. And to give them extra incentive to keep referring you, you could send them extras like discounts, free trials, or even set up some kind of affiliate system.

subscriber data to collect is what affiliate they came fromWhat affiliate the subscriber came from

If you already have an affiliate program setup, it’s smart to keep the sign ups for each affiliate separate. Every affiliate will cover their own niche topic so knowing which affiliate a new subscriber comes from helps you craft content specifically for them.

How to use this tag- If you blog about baking cakes and you have an affiliate that blogs about wedding inspiration, you could create an eBook or another small free giveaway about popular wedding cake flavor combinations or color schemes that you can send to subscribers who came specifically from that affiliate.

subscriber data to collect is their interestsInterests

If you blog on different topics, it’s very important to keep all your readers grouped into their correct interest so you’re not talking to them about the stuff they don’t need.

How to use this tag-You could run a survey asking your readers to click one of five topics you blog about. The link they click will tag them by their favorite interest, and now you know more specifically who to send content to when you deal with multiple topics.  

subscriber data to collect is if they are interested in but haven't purchasedInterested in, but hasn’t bought

A subscriber can go through a whole teaching sequence of yours and still not end up purchasing anything. You can create a link in the final email of that sequence that tags those subscribers as “interest in: product name”

How to use this tag- When that subscriber goes through your sequences and ends up not purchasing and being tagged as “interested”, you can send them a follow up sequence with a downsell of that product they are interested in. It could be a smaller version at a lower price or just a lower priced product that you think compliments the original product you were pitching. Doing this shows that subscriber that you care about them getting a product that truly helps them reach their goals and can go a long way in building trust and authority.

subscriber data to collect is if they are already a customerCustomer tag

Whenever a subscriber buys anything from you, give them a ‘customer’ tag. Knowing what subscribers have made a purchase from you lets you know that they might be willing to buy other products from you. The difference between the “interested in” tag and the “customer” tag here is big. It’s the difference between sending a subscriber through another teaching sequence and offering free incentives or sending them through a sequence with a hard pitch that doesn’t involve as much trust building.

How to use this tag- If a subscriber purchases your course on “How to use gluten-free flours in baking”, you can assume that since they bought a course on this subject from you, they might also purchase another course from you in a similar topic. You could send them into a sequence with a hard pitch on your more targeted course “Gluten-free bread baking”.

Time to get tagging

It’s a Type A’s dream, right? Gathering all the information and putting your subscribers in their designated places will not only help you understand your audience more, it’s also going to help your audience feel understood. The more you send them content that feels like you wrote it just for them, the more they’ll trust you and your work– that means increased revenue numbers.

Do these data points we talked about work for your audience? What other tags would add to this list? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

Dani Stewart

As a daughter of an entrepreneur, the wife of an entrepreneur, and an entrepreneur herself, Dani has lived and learned all sides of creating and growing businesses. She is excited to bring all that life experience as well as a decade of crafting content to the ConvertKit community. She is a part-time baker, dinner-party planner, and lover of good bourbon living the simple life in Nashville with her husband, Sean.

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