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Email List Segmentation Best Practices For High Open Rate

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This article was last updated on September 1, 2020

Want to learn more about email list segmentation best practices? In today’s post we will show what criteria to apply when segmenting your audience database in order create more effective marketing campaigns.

When we speak of email marketing, sending generic emails to everyone on your email database may not only lower your chances of conversions but may even lead to a complete dead end. In other words, in order to achieve the highest email marketing results for your business, the first thing to do is put your recipients into different categories.

What does email list segmentation mean?

Basically, this is the process of filtering your email database by certain criteria, i.e. creating smart custom email lists. Email list segmentation is possible only when you have a certain amount of valuable information about your users. Gathering as much information as possible allows you to better segment your email list and create individualized and well crafted email offers based on the user needs from each custom email list.

How to gather essential information in order to segment?

Conducting website surveys, email surveys, and post-purchase surveys in return to a small reward is an easy way to gather the information that you need from your potential and current customers. Analyzing the user behavior on your website will also give you essential insight in order to build different user profiles.

Why is email list segmentation necessary?

The benefits are numerous. First of all, segmenting your audience well and sending them relevant emails keeps you away from the spam folder. Sending personalized emails boosts the open and click-through rates, therefore making the chances of conversion higher. In addition, it decreases the risk of your recipients hitting “Unsubscribe”.

Email list segmentation best practices for B2C businesses.

1. Demographic Criteria

Demographic information gives you a great idea of who your customers are. Here is what you should look for when segmenting by demographic criteria:

  • Geographic location: knowing which country or even which city your recipients are located in may turn out to be a huge asset for businesses who want to send location-oriented offers such as restaurant coupons, hotel offers, physical store discounts, etc.
  • Age: segmenting your audience by age is a must-have criteria, as different age groups have different buying habits and needs.
  • Gender: especially useful for businesses whose products or services are purposed for different genders such as male or female clothing lines and shoes, beauty or barber salons, etc.
2. Psychographic Criteria

Segmenting your audience by their behavior is one of the email list segmentation best practices which also helps you determine your different buying personas. Psychographic segmentation allows you to use different approaches that will lead to conversions. Providing the right incentives for your different persona types can do wonders for your business! Here is what to look for:

  • Shopping frequency: How often do your customers purchase from you? Nothing bad to send them email reminders based on when their last purchase was.
  • Segmenting by explicit interest in certain product or service category, e.g. rock band T-shirts, sushi restaurants, etc. This information can help you craft super personalized email offers which generate powerful results.
  • What incentives excite your personas: Is it the new exclusive collection? Or perhaps the 70% discount sales? Observe and analyze: what makes your users click more?
3. Criteria Based on Stages of the Sales Cycle

This is one of the most effective segment criteria. People in different stages of the sales cycle need different incentives in order to be pushed closer to conversion. The sales cycle may vary from one business to another but this is what your segments should look like basically.

  • Leads or potential customers: these are the people who still haven’t made any purchase from you. Email marketing campaigns containing product reviews by other people, quality proofs, money back guarantees, discounts and even free products giveaway can help you convert users belonging to this segment.
  • One-time customers: users who have purchased once but never returned. Your objective with this segment is to turn these users into returning customers by sending them enticing reactivating offers.
  • Loyal customers: this would be one of the most precious segments for you. These are the people who know your products and services well and regularly order from you. What you can do, is send them exclusive offers to make them feel special and strengthen their bond with your brand.

4. Abandonment criteria
  • Shopping cart abandonment: an extremely important segmentation criteria which groups the users who almost converted but then something happened. Reminding emails with extra incentives to finish their order can be a wise decision for this custom email list.
  • Form abandonment: similar to the previous one, this segment usually refers to users who have started filling out a form for an event, a webinar, a workshop, or anything else but then something went wrong and they hit the “Close” or “Back” button before submitting.

Email list segmentation best practices for B2B companies.

Business to business companies are completely different from B2C ones. Naturally, custom email lists are based on different criteria. Here are the email list segmentation best practices for your B2B database.

1. By type of business

You can create different custom email lists based on the type of business, such as franchise companies, non-profit organizations, e-commerce businesses, or else.

2. By business size

Whether you are targeting big enterprises, or small local businesses, you will need to craft different email marketing campaigns based on their unique needs.

3. By industry

Needless to say, when you create your email campaigns, you will need to make them relevant for you recipient’s industry. Creating such a criteria for filtering your email database is wise for those who target companies of different industries.

4. By contact person job title or function

Creating segments based on the job title of the person receiving your email is also wise. Are they the people who make the essential decisions in the company?


Email list segmentation best practices can vary from one business to another. These widely used criteria examples that we’ve listed are simply ideas to help you get started with your email database segmentation. In order to be successful with your campaigns, our advice is to identify those criteria that are significant for your own business, and therefore will lead to the best results for you.

Wanna share other segmentation criteria you use for your own business?