Resources Hub » Blog » Email Segmentation Best Practices: Deliver Highly-Relevant Content

The days of one-size-fits-all content are over. In the current digital landscape, customization is everything.

When the average user logs into their computer, they likely have custom settings in their operating system. They may then open a browser with their favorite sites saved and go to those sites to see lists of personalized suggestions for content to view.

Every user is different, and not just in their personal characteristics. Their usage patterns of the technology they frequent and the behavior they take part in across various sites all contribute to what makes them unique.

For content creators, understanding the uniqueness of each user is vital to creating better content. How can you manage this when you send out content to hundreds, thousands, or even millions of users via email?

Understanding email segmentation best practices can help any content creator deliver the relevant content users look for.

Looking past the basics of email segmentation

Email segmentation is a technique that almost every email marketer has taken part in on a regular basis. They know that, when it comes to connecting with their entire list, creating individual messages for each user is an impossible task.

To manage the balance between keeping the send cadence high and keeping content customized, marketers traditionally divide their list up into a few common categories, like age, gender, location, etc.

To manage the balance between keeping the send cadence high and keeping content customized, marketers traditionally divide their list up into a few common categories, like age, gender, location, etc.

Source: Campaign Monitor

There’s nothing wrong with using these kinds of categories to segment your email list. They’re effective, but they’re also somewhat limited on their own.

Email marketing is like any other form of marketing. Its ultimate goal is to generate profitable engagement with a brand. It still works, providing $40 in revenue per dollar spent, and it’s six times more likely to generate click-throughs than tweets.

However, not every email will be a success. People want to see content that’s relevant to their own needs and activity. Customized content will do much better.

Keeping the potential of email in mind, let’s explore some more in-depth segmentation categories for creating extremely relevant content.

Email segmentation best practices for advanced categories

Beyond the basic categories marketers know for email segmentation, there are many other ways to divide up your list. You can find plenty of opportunities for great emails when you organize your list according to buyer behavior and interaction.

Past buyer behavior

Repeat buyers are responsible for 40% of a business’s revenue, so it’s a big segment that you should be capitalizing on in your email marketing.

When you’re looking to improve your revenue, it can be easy to think that you should be targeting new customers. Although you should be doing this, you should also give ample attention to those who have bought from you before. Divide these people into a segment, and, if you have a lot of recent buyers, you can make multiple segments.

When you’re looking to improve your revenue, it can be easy to think that you should be targeting new customers.


As the graphic shows, peoples’ purchase history can actually influence how likely they are to make another purchase. Based on this, you could switch users into different segments depending on how many transactions you have on record with them.

In doing so, you make it easier to create the appropriate email to keep them coming back. Your strategy and the content you create may be altered slightly for each one, meaning you can implement different tactics for first-time buyers, two-timers, and so on.

Website activity

The interaction a person has with your website says a lot about how they view your brand. Let’s say you notice they follow an email CTA and spend hours over the course of a week on one product page. Based off that, you can safely conclude they’re strongly considering that product.

It can make for a great reason to send an email. Remember, the Xerox experiment proved people are more willing to take action if given a reason, even if that reason is simple. If your email offers to provide them more information about a product, or, better yet, a discount, they may be more easily drawn to a sale.

You can also create segments for people who haven’t been active on your site for a few days. Show off a new product or service or promote something to them they haven’t looked at before. It’s been demonstrated that exposure to something new triggers the release of dopamine in the brain. If you have a large group of users who haven’t frequented your site in a while, show them something exciting to bring them back.

You can also create segments for people who haven’t been active on your site for a few days.

Source: Really Good Emails

You can also use email to reach out to those who’ve been hovering around your contact page or to provide a bit more insight to those who’ve been reviewing your About page. As long as you have browsing activity from users from your website, you can craft emails accordingly.

Customers with negative experiences

Segmentation and advanced segmentation techniques, in particular, aren’t just reserved for those who have a positive opinion of your company.

It’s easy to assume that the people who buy from you or frequent your sites are the best targets for advanced segmentation practices. However, it’s sometimes effective to group users together who’ve had a negative experience.

It could be those who’ve left a negative review, or those who’ve had to send a product back due to some defect. While negative experiences can be made into segments, it’s important to keep similar experiences together.

So, in this case, you could have one segment for those who’ve left negative feedback, and another for those who’ve had to request returns. This way, you can tailor your approaches for each individual group.

You may offer different forms of response for each issue. In the case of a negative review, you may need to follow up to find out what exactly caused the issue. With a product return, you could offer store credit or a replacement.

While some companies may feel that positive activity is the only thing that makes for advanced segments, email segmentation best practices can help you make use of even those negative experiences.

Subscription timeframes

For many customers, their time with a business is to be valued. If they’re a longtime customer, they’ll be quick to mention it, in many instances. Whether they’re bragging about your brand in a review or leveraging for something more, the length of their subscription or relationship with you is pertinent.

How is this different than repeat buyers? In this case, we’re talking about timeframes. Has the customer been buying from you for over six months? A year? Five years? Ten? In that case, those customers may qualify for special discounts or deals that are exclusive to them.

Again, this is an example of how repeat buyers offer more potential for profits. However, it offers you a different way to segment them.

Some stores even have a loyalty system in place where you can earn tokens or points. It’s a great opportunity to divide your list into advanced segments and show users in those segments how much you value their loyalty.

Some stores even have a loyalty system in place where you can earn tokens or points.

Source: Really Good Emails

If you’re looking for a new way to segment your list and take advantage of repeat business, consider implementing this type of point system or a length-of-subscription loyalty program, then building segments off it accordingly.

Product-centric segments

Nearly every company has those products they’re trying to push a little harder than the others. Maybe higher management has said they want more sales for that particular product. Or maybe it simply hasn’t been selling as well as the others and needs a little boost.

The great thing about creating segments for people who’ve bought a specific product is that you can offer them rewards, then promote those rewards to people who are still uncertain about buying. Not only does this reward those who’ve made a purchase, but the possibility of rewards can be great for converting hesitant leads to customers.

You can also create segments for certain products as a way to promote other products. Maybe they’re complimentary, like attachments or add-ons. Or you could be promoting similar products to the one the customer just bought.

Obviously, the type of product, price, and timeframe will all impact how this type of segment works. However, creating separate segments for customers who’ve purchased specific products opens you up to new promotional opportunities, both to existing buyers and holdouts.

Wrap up

Email segmentation goes well beyond the basics. We’ve all heard about age, gender, and location segments. However, email segmentation best practices go further. They take into account the customer’s relationship with your brand and their interactions with your site.

Remember, advanced segmentation practices can be used for:

  • Buyer activity, including product purchases and subscription date
  • Website activity or lack thereof
  • Negative experiences, including product returns or negative reviews

When you know how to segment your list based on the way your buyers act, you can meet them where they are and deliver the hyper-focused content they want.

Ready to segment your list? Learn how to gather data to create better segments today.

Easily build sign-up forms that convert
Easily build sign-up forms that convert

Our easy-to-use tools help you build landing pages and sign-up forms to grow your lists.

Learn More

Case Study

Learn how Girls Who Code uses Campaign Monitor to change the tech world for the better.
Learn how
The email platform for agencies

The email platform for agencies

We started out helping agencies with email, so let us help you.

Learn more
This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
Press CMD+D to Bookmark this page

Get started with Campaign Monitor today.

With our powerful yet easy-to-use tools, it's never been easier to make an impact with email marketing.

Try it for free