4 Reasons Why Email Segmentation Matters

Sometimes it sounds very “broken-recordish.”

Send timely, targeted, relevant emails to subscribers who have asked for them.

It’s my go-to message – my mantra of sorts – when it comes to email marketing. It’s one of those things I recommend printing out and pasting to your desk. It’s a phrase you should repeat when you’re getting ready to hit the send button on that next email marketing campaign. It’s the question to ask your team all of the time, but especially if you see your metrics on the fritz (declining open and/or click through rates, increasing complaints, poor deliverability, etc).

What Poor (Or No) Segmentation Looks Like

On December 20, 2009, I received these 3 emails within a 33-minute span (6:09AM, 6:29AM, and 6:42AM).

1. Inbox View: Before even opening the emails, what do you notice about them? Pretty easy one, right? While the from names are all different, the subject lines are identical. As it turns out, Multichannel Merchant, DIRECT, and Chief Marketer are all divisions of Penton Media (see email footer).

Why this matters: I feel like I just got spammed. Why? Penton Media just asked (errr…told) me 3 times to fill out their survey. Poor brand impression not only from Penton, but also from the 3 divisions who sent me that survey. I deleted all three.

2. Opened View: You’ll quickly see if you open all three emails (see Multichannel Merchant below) that, with the exception of the header image, a few words here and there, and the signatures, the email copy is identical.

Why this matters: Again, I’ve just been sent the same survey 3 times. The response rates on surveys already tend to be low. Sending it to me 3 times under 3 different from names does not increase my chances of completing.

So, who cares?

4 Reasons Why Email Segmentation Matters

I’m an email snob. It’s easy for me to sit up in my ivory email tower and tell everyone what they are doing wrong. I can’t argue that fact. But I do think segmentation matters – not only for me, but for the average email consumer as well. Here’s why:

1. Reduces inbox clutter: Assuming the emails were the same, would you rather receive 3 or just 1?

2. Increases relevancy: The more relevant an email, the more likely I am to take action (open, click, convert)

3. Earns trust: If I believe that you – the email marketer – have my best interests in mind, I’ll trust you more. More trust ultimately leads to more action (see #2).

4. Gain credibility: Good segmentation proves to me that you know what you are doing. It shows that you are not blasting off emails. Instead, you are putting thought behind each send.

Segmentation is not hard. Time to add it to your email marketing new year’s resolution list.

*After a conversation over IM with Andrew Kordek, it was pointed out that this post is lacking in concrete examples (case studies) of “segmentation success stories.” If you have some, please share in the comments below as I’d like to do a follow up post.

DJ Waldow
Director of Community, Blue Sky Factory