Click Consult Limited

The importance of database segmentation in email marketing

Posted by June 10, 2016
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Regardless of how much time and effort go into your email marketing campaigns, if you’re hoping to succeed with a one-size-fits-all policy, then you are unfortunately going to be disappointed.

To begin with, it’s probably a good idea to explain what, when related to email marketing, we mean by ‘segmentation’. In this regard, we’re talking about breaking your contact data down into marketable subsections. We’re making the assumption here that you have in place one of the many varieties of mass-emailing software, but, provided you do, alongside email addresses you will have other data – names, job-roles, demographic information, location etc. It is this that offers the first opportunity for segmentation.


The effort here is to ensure as much personalisation as possible within the limitations of your data. With 80.39% of respondents to a recent Click Consult survey stating they believe personalisation is either very or extremely important to the development of brand loyalty, it’s not difficult to see why. By looking to vary the subject lines and content of your email sends by relevant subcategories of contact, you increase the likelihood of both click-throughs and conversions.

To use a mixed-media metaphor – think of the broader targeting and delivery method of televisual advertisements. Considerations for placement of a television advert, besides exorbitant cost, are the programme it will be aired before, during or after, the time of day that programme airs and the demographic of the audience for it. In this regard, brands are able to loosely target specific interests and demographics with relevant ads (this is being taken to its logical conclusion in the UK lately with a spate of ad break takeovers). Your email database is a much more comprehensive resource for the data required to make these decisions than that available to buyers of television ad space. Used correctly, your database helps to contextualise your entire audience and deliver the right content to them.

Catering content to the buyer’s journey

In addition to permitting mass email shots and storing basic information on your content, the majority of good email marketing platforms will allow you to track consumer interaction with your brand’s site. Provided you have researched your buyer’s journey, and the length of the buying cycle, you will have some concept of how consumers are interacting with your brand, and what content they interact with at what stage. This information allows you a fantastic opportunity to nurture your brand’s relationship with the consumer.

By tailoring the content and offers you deliver to consumers to their particular position in the buyer’s journey, you can increase the degree of inferred personalisation for the consumer and also the usefulness of an email to the consumer (the latter of which will improve the chances of your next email being opened). For this reason, it is important to develop a strategy both for segmentation and for your content (some examples of excellent content marketing can be found here).

Segmentation data

As is probably apparent by now, the more data you have access to, the better your segmentation strategy will fare, but what are the types of data you can legitimately gather? There are two main types:

Explicit data: – this is information that your consumers will have provided themselves – whether via a contact form or other branded opt-in forum, or via a public platform such as LinkedIn (for B2B purposes, for example).

Implicit data: – this, on the other hand, is data that is gathered from behaviour – such as interactions with your brand’s site, or data from tracking cookies.

The more data you have, the more easily and more strategically you can segment your email lists in order to make the most impact.

Methods of segmentation

By demographic: – This is much like the television advertising model mentioned earlier, where emails are targeted at specific groups by age, sex, location etc.

Interaction: – Emails based on interaction are responsive both to the consumer’s actions on a brand’s site and also the brand’s knowledge of their own buyer’s journey and length of cycle. Whether it is the ‘hello and welcome’ email on initial sign, ‘thank you for purchasing’ or even the ‘products/services/offers you might be interested in’ email, these are nurturing emails and therefore more likely to encourage future opens and interactions.

Though either method of segmentation will encourage better results than blanket emailing, the second method is, of course, the most customer (and ROI) friendly. For the best results, however, we would recommend a strategy that focuses first on segmentation by interaction and then secondarily by demographic – ensuring the highest level of personalisation possible with the data available to you.

Post written by John Warner, content executive at Click Consult.

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