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Email segmentation: how to use segmentation to personalize emails

Email subscribers’ inboxes are packed with marketing emails competing for their attention. Every day they receive promotions, offers, and deals designed to drive them to convert and part with their hard-earned cash. And you want to do the same, so how do you make your email marketing stand out?
Marketer learning how to use email segmentation to personalize their emails

Email segmentation is the first step towards email personalization, but it’s also so much more. Segmenting your email marketing guarantees that you’re delivering relevant messages. And relevancy is what subscribers crave.

Sending irrelevant emails can readers into unengaged contacts. Sending them repeatedly, all but guarantees their unsubscribe.

To keep subscribers engaged you need to consider email segmentation as a core element of your email marketing strategy. Segmenting your audience base allows you to send personalized emails that reflect the customers’ needs and wants. The more you’re able to do this, the easier it’ll be to convert and retain customers.

Below are some key segments you should be building to optimize your email marketing performance.

Why email segmentation is important?

Every time you send a targeted email to your segments, you’re one step closer to sending personalized content. The more you refine your audience segments, the more relevant and personalized your marketing will feel when it lands in a subscriber’s inbox.

There is a number of ways you can use email segmentation in your emails to personalize them.  In the following sections, we’ll explore tactics for different industries to master the art of email segmentation.

General email segmentation

Every email marketer, from beginner to well-seasoned professionals, should have a collection of general segments built and ready to use when the campaign demands it.

These usually use the explicit data customers hand over in exchange for a more personalized experience. Demographic data such as gender, age, and location are all examples of explicit data and should form the basis of your email segmentation strategy.

Marketing preferences collected through your preference center should also be a priority for serious email marketers. You should be collecting preferences such as favorite products, interests, and newsletters they’d like to receive. This will give you unprecedented insight into your customers and empower them to personalize their own experiences.

B2B segmentation

As well as segmenting based on demographic data B2B marketers can use lead scoring to segment and target specific audience groups.

Segments based on whether a prospect is “cold”, “warm”, “hot”, or “red hot” enables you to send targeted messages designed to tip them into the next category. For example, you can target your “red hot” segment with invitations to book calls with your sales team. Or, you can target your “warm” contacts with educational download content to drive them into the “hot” prospect category.

Ecommerce segmentation

Ecommerce brands have a wealth of customer data at their fingertips. From past purchases to total money spent, every insight adds value to your relationship with customers.

You can take these insights further by segmenting based on customers’ RFM scores. RFM – recency, frequency, and monetary – models help ecommerce brands group customers based on their shopping habits.

Dotdigital’s RFM modeling tool groups shoppers into eight personas which you can use to create audience segments. These personas are:

  • Lost
  • At-risk
  • Can’t lose
  • Need nurturing
  • High potential
  • Recent customers
  • Loyalists
  • Champions

Segmenting your audience based on these personas helps you identify what each group needs. For example, during the sales period, you can offer “Loyalist” and “Champion” segments exclusive pre-sale access. Or you can target your “Need nurturing” segment with engaging newsletter content that helps them develop stronger connections with your brand.

Internal communication segmentation

A lot of internal communication and HR teams tend to rely on their internal email providers to connect with staff, but the benefit of using an automation platform is unprecedented.

One of the biggest perks is the ability to segment your workforce. Whether you’re sending important updates to managers, onboarding new staff, or targeting specific office locations, segmentation will enable you to get messages out quickly and efficiently.

Direct-to-consumer (D2C) segmentation

A lot of emerging D2C brands offer products and services to consumers on a subscription basis. These membership-based businesses need to connect with customers to keep the contract rolling.

Targeting audience segments based on how long they’ve been subscribed to your services, and the type or level of subscription they have is a great place to start. You can ensure your loyal customers are rewarded and kept up-to-date with your latest releases. You can also nurture subscribers paying for basic packages by regularly delivering outlining the benefits of upgrading.

Non-profit segmentation

The audience base of a non-profit organization is as diverse as they come, which means segmentation is a vital tactic. Charities, non-profits, and membership organizations regularly have to deliver important communications to stakeholders, but each stakeholder may require a different level of business insight.

Building segments for your volunteers, fundraisers, board members, ambassadors, and more will make getting emails out easier and more efficient.


By incorporating personalized strategies your email marketing, you can establish a deeper connection with subscribers and deliver content that genuinely resonates with them. This approach allows you to customize your email content to align with individual needs and preferences. This will enhance the likelihood of your subscribers opening and engaging with the message, ultimately driving desired actions.

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