What Every Small Business Owner Needs To Know About Email Segmentation

To most service-based entrepreneurs these days, the world’s email segmentation is a fairly common concept.

However, over the 30+ years The Business Catalyst has been helping people with automation marketing we have seen a real lack of business owners executing email segmentation to its full capacity, and as a result, they end up leaving money on the table.

This article is going to walk you through the basics of email segmentation. I’m going to explain where most small-business owners are going wrong, and provide some useful tips you can implement straight away to create a more personalised, and valuable experience for anyone coming into contact with your business.

What actually is email segmentation?

To put it very simply:

Email segmentation is the process of identifying subgroups in your email list so that you can create a specifically tailored marketing experience for them based on who they are or their particular interests.

Depending on what kind of business you are in you are going to have a number of different types of contacts who are interested in different things or who are at different stages of the marketing lifecycle.

For example, if you run a gift basket shop, you are definitely going to want to segment your contacts into male and female at the very least! But you can go so much further than that. You can segment them into what items they purchased in the basket. Are they red or white wine drinkers? Are they gluten-free? Do they like chocolate? 

What about special occasions like Valentine’s day? Do you know if you are going to be targeting men or women? What age? Are they parents?

By segmenting these groups into smaller, more niche categories you can ensure that you are communicating the right message to the right group of people.

It’s a laser-focused attitude to marketing, not a scattergun approach that we see a lot of small business owners take. 

The mistakes small business owners make around email segmentation

As I mentioned earlier, many small-business owners may think they are already doing email segmentation, but in fact, they are barely scratching the surface of what’s possible.

For example, a lot of clients who come to us have the same automated email campaign that goes out to both their prospects and their paying customers without really thinking about what marketing lifecycle stage those groups are in.

Another one we see a lot is business owners not tracking engagement on their website, or outbound marketing, so they aren’t able to put people into groups based on their interests. 

This can cause a lot of your contacts or customers to feel like they aren’t being listened to or served properly. If that’s the case then your emails are destined to be instantly deleted or deposited directly in the spam folder!

We expect better from businesses

In the modern world of business, we all have certain expectations now. We expect a business to know why we have contacted them and we expect real valuable content before we are confident to take that step towards becoming a customer.

How many times have you been on the phone with some organisation and felt frustrated at having to repeat your story for the third time to another agent, because they haven’t passed on your details, stored them or tracked your information?

How many times have you sent emails from companies straight to the bin because they are totally irrelevant to your needs? You may even be interested in another one of their products or services, but find yourself unsubscribing as you feel like you’re being spammed.

By not listening to your contacts, and not segmenting your list properly, your contacts may well be feeling the same.

Lack of segmenting really limits your ability to add value to your contacts and upsell, downsell and cross-sell to them, meaning you end up leaving a lot of money on the table.

How to Segment Your Lists

The first thing you need to do to start building nice, tailored segments is to ask yourself some basic questions about the people coming through your business. Some good questions are:

  • Who is buying my products/service?
  • What is useful to know about them to be able to target later?
  • What are the reasons someone would buy my product/service?
  • What product/service did they purchase (if you have multiple)?
  • What interests them, in relation to my product/service?
  • What is their lead source?
  • What are the demographics of my ideal clients (read my earlier blog for more info on this)?
  • Which form did they complete on my website?
  • Which ad did they respond to?
  • What lead magnet did they take/download?

Once we’ve gathered this information we’ve got to make sure we have a way of storing it in order to start building these segmented lists. 

Have they just downloaded a free lead magnet? Did they see your offer, but not take it? Have they made a purchase and might want to see what else you have?

When you can track all of these contact points you are able to build and send out really specific messages to each of these groups in order to educate them, indoctrinate them, recommend them new products/services, thank them for their loyalty, ask for referrals, etc.

TAKE ACTION: Create a list for yourself. Answer each of the questions above to start gathering information for your own segment. See how it goes!  

Ideally, creating a customer journey map of these touch points and where your contacts can fall through the cracks can reduce the number of prospects that you’re potentially losing

Use The Data

Now that you have all of this awesome intelligence on your contacts, please, make sure you bloody use it!

One of the worst things I’ve seen small business owners do is spend all this time gathering this information, and still not take any action – or indeed, gathering a whole load of data that serves no purpose and that can’t be impacted.

If your contacts have downloaded a white paper, ebook or lead magnet on a specific area of interest you have a massive opportunity to offer them something from your product list that is similar − so do it!. 

A good CRM can be your best friend here and can automate this for you once you set it up. Personally, I would recommend using Keap –it’s our favourite! Feel free to get in touch if you would like some advice on setting this up.  

How niche do we go in segmentation?

Email segmentation doesn’t mean manually typing out messages to each contact you engage with. Not at all. Once you set it up this process is entirely automated. It just takes a little time to plan it all out. 

Once we have answered all of the questions we outlined earlier, we can start to cross-reference all of our offers so that when someone engages with one of them, they are automatically educated and indoctrinated about something else that might give them value.

If I run a dental practice, for example, and someone has come in for a regular clean, I might want to put them on a segmentation list that educates them about teeth whitening, or perhaps my own range of dental cleaning products. 

The important thing here is that even if people don’t purchase from you, you are still delivering valuable content in their areas of interest.

By collecting the data (intelligence) on these groups you are able to send out a lot more meaningful and valuable content to each demographic, touching on their interests, their mindsets, their preferences, etc.

It’s a very different message for each, so make sure you take the time to find out what your segments really want and then give it to them!

How many emails does a contact need from you to buy?

If you get your email segmenting right, it should not only play a huge role in helping your contacts over the line, but also in maximising the value from your current clients too. 

The research coming in at the moment tells us a contact needs 11 touchpoints in order to make a buying decision so if you have a good, tailored email campaign going out to the right people, that can do a lot of the heavy lifting and preselling for you – especially if it’s automated. 

The one thing to remember is that email segmentation can be very product-specific. What you are offering to your prospects will depend on the level of detail you go into when it comes to educating vs selling, so make sure you understand the level of awareness a prospect has when dealing with you. 

The good news is that you don’t need your entire business mapped out from head to toe to start building out your segmented lists. 

As long as you have a product, and know the different areas of interest around it and the various demographics your ideal client has, you can put this into practice and start reaping the rewards.

Happy segmenting!

Want to learn more about how you can implement email segmenting in your business?

Contact The Business Catalyst.