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List Segmentation - Why Its Important And How To Do It

Quite simply, list segmentation targets your communications and increases the relevancy of your messages, thus resulting in higher open and click-through rates, enhanced customer loyalty your customers believe that each email is specifically for them - and increased sales. In email marketing, the more relevant your campaign is, the better response is and the more conversions you get. When you think about it, this is the desired reaction to your email campaigns, isn't it? So why are you still procrastinating?

The advantages of segmentation are obvious and if done correctly, you will avoid the hazards of opt-outs and being labelled as a spammer'. It also goes a long way to improving your email deliverability and online reputation. In fact, it has been shown that marketers who send relevant email campaigns enjoy lower opt-out rates than those who send the same email to everyone on their list.

Of course segmenting your precious lists can be an unnerving task, especially if you have never attempted to do it before. So, we've looked at some of the most effective methods and presented them for you below. Don't panic; you don't need to try them all at once, just start with the information that you have and work your way from there.

Your segmentation can be based on any or every of the following criteria:

- Prospective customers vs. existing customers. This is a very important group to segment. What you will avoid is for an existing customer to receive an email as if they were a prospect, offering better deals than the one they were offered. It's a bad move and the existing customer won't trust that they are unique in your eyes, but this mistake can be easily avoided.

- Demographics (ZIP/Postal code, gender, age, occupation). Your subscriber lives in New York, why are you sending them specials about flights between Texas and Alaska? Or, your subscriber is a 25 year old woman, so why are you sending her emails for specials on Fashions for Mature Women'? You get the idea. Take note of demographics and your relevant emails will give your subscriber the impression that you are listening (which you are) and will help garner the results you are looking for.

- Behavioural data - Open and click-through rates, latest or last visit, this information can help you target who is more responsive to your emails. The subscribers who open your emails all the time or on a regular basis can perhaps be tested with a higher frequency of emails.

- Recent Subscribers. Recent could be 3-6 months or it could be since the last campaign you sent a month ago. Either way, the newbies' should be separated and paid special attention to, don't be so quick to finish the courting period'. You could offer more deals or discounts on your products or services, thereby giving them the feeling that you haven't just loved them and left them'.

- Inactive Subscribers Essentially any subscriber who hasn't opened or clicked on your email over an extended period of time can be deemed inactive'. Instead of writing them off as a lost cause, put them into a separate group and aim to send a targeted reactivation campaign to them in the near future.

- Preference Surveys / Interest based preferences. Don't be scared to ask for information you don't have, such as new interests and updated email addresses. Explain how this will help you to send more relevant, useful emails and remind them that you will maintain their privacy at all costs.

- Major Clients. Anyone who spends more than say $1000 at any given time, when others spend less than $100, should always get special attention. Offer platinum status, free shipping or gifts with their next purchase. Anything that makes your customer think that you do really appreciate their loyalty, which you do of course.