How to Effectively Segment An Audience

Traditionally, marketers would segment audiences based on common KPIs such as LTV, whether someone purchased a specific product, or by the type of relationship the business has with that customer (wholesaler, retailer, end-user, etc). These types of audience segments can be effective to a degree, but using behavior-driven segments can help create engaging experiences for customers and increase conversions for businesses. Creative audiences segmenting is becoming more important as businesses in every industry aim to reduce costs and maintain relevance with their customers. We've put together a list of some of the audience segmenting strategies we like to use and have proven successful.

By tracking the total number of opens for each audience member, you can keep a running tally of their curiosity in your messaging.

Total Number of Opens

By tracking the total number of opens for each audience member, you can keep a running tally of their curiosity in your messaging. A segment you should most certainly have a group no larger than 10-15% of your audience size with the highest total open count. These are the people that are most interested in the content of your messages since they open the most. They are likely people familiar with your brand and would recognize your business's name in a conversation. Similarly, create more segments for people who are somewhat familiar and not very familiar. This way you can use different strategies when communicating with each group to maximize the effect of your message. For instance, if you have a company that sells wool socks, you might send an email to your most familiar group with the subject "Check out what's new". These customers know your brand and they know you sell wool socks already. But for those audience members who don't know your business well, you might use the subject line "New Wool Sock Designs" so they know what the email is about and why it is interesting to them. This strategy can help to engage new audience members so they automatically graduate into the most familiar group by opening more of your emails.

Unlike opens, clicks implicitly indicate a certain level of trust you have established with an audience member.

Total Number of Clicks

Similar to tracking the total number of opens for audience members is tracking the total number of clicks. Unlike opens, clicks implicitly indicate a certain level of trust you have established with an audience member. Think of segments created based on total clicks as differing levels of trust. You can have a segment of the most trusting members and a segment of the least trusting. If you intend on driving traffic, you should send any important links to the most trusting segment, while sending informational content (with links) to the least trusting users on a regular basis. Having regular contact with customers who don't trust your brand yet gives you an opportunity to present them with reasons why they should. Every click on content takes them to your website where you have the opportunity to appear as an authority and win them over, while automatically shifting them through the trust segments you have established.

If you have previously engaged members who are no longer opening, they my be busy or you have inadvertently triggered a filter with their email service provider.

Time Since Last Open/Click

While tracking opens and clicks can be useful, if your audience is well established, timing should be a key factor in your segmenting strategy. Tracking the time since last open can help you identify deliverability issues as well since an email that doesn't get delivered can't be opened. If you have previously engaged members who are no longer opening, they my be busy or you have inadvertently triggered a filter with their email service provider. You can put these members into a segment for rehabilitation. Alternatively, if a member has opened or clicked a link recently, they are likely to be extremely responsive to anything you send. I generally like to split these up in to a few segments - opened in the past 7 days, opened in the past 14 days and opened in the past 30 days.

If you send an email with two or more choices to your audience, you can effectively have them segment themselves.

Self-Selecting Segments

Segmenting by clicks and opens is great, but what if you want to get more specific? Sure you could track a link click for a product or service to gauge interest, but what about more actionable information? If you send an email with two or more choices to your audience, you can effectively have them segment themselves. This works best with blog or news content. For instance, if you owned a travel company and wanted to determine which members of your list are likely parents, you might send links to two articles. The first would be titles How to Keep Your Kids Entertained On Road Trips. The second would be targeting a different demographic and would be titled The Best Nightclubs Across the US. People will naturally click a link that is most fitting to them. You could then take the group of customers who clicked on the article about kids and be reasonably certain they would like to see offers about the best places to travel as a family.

Much of how the internet works is based on sharing, and forwarding emails to family and friends is a regular, but often overlooked, occurrence.

Total Number of IP Addresses

So where are those opens and clicks coming from anyway? If you're not tracking the IP addresses of the opens and clicks you're getting, then you aren't seeing the whole picture. Much of how the internet works is based on sharing, and forwarding emails to family and friends is a regular, but often overlooked, occurrence. By creating segments based on the highest number of IP addresses you can target the members of your audience who are most likely to share your message by forwarding it along to family and friends. Even though the open or click will appear in your email software as though it came from the audience member, the different IP addresses will tell a different story. Its important to note that there is not a 1:1 correlation between IP address and audience members. Many people will have several devices (laptop/phone) or internet connections (work/home) they access their email through. What you are looking for are the outliers - people who have opened from 15-20+ IP addresses. When you have a message you really want to spread organically, you'll have the perfect audience to target.

So why even create these types of segments? Couldn't you just send any message to your entire list and get the same results. Not really. When you email your entire audience at once, their email service providers are watching how your email performs. The more opens and clicks it gets early on, the more emails get delivered to the rest of the group. This is why its so important to get the highest engagement rates you can from the start so you can maximize your message's deliverability.

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