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Nathan Chambers
January 27, 2020 | Nathan Chambers

Three Easy Ways to Start Segmenting Your Email Lists

Email continues to be a critical tool in the digital marketing toolbox. When done well, email is a fantastic customer loyalty tool. And, email is inexpensive. It costs only pennies to send an email to your database, and a small amount of time for your creative person or agency to design and produce your content. The key to your email success is not your offer or product! Success lies in your campaign list strategy.

Below are three quick and easy tips on effective segmentation strategies for successful email campaigns.

Customize your emails

We know it’s easy to be lazy when the email is late and you just need to get it out. But don’t assume all your subscribers should always get the same content. If you view your database as one big list of names and put minimal effort into separating them into different groups – this minimal effort will show. Over half of those who subscribe to email lists end up throwing the email in the trash when it hits their inbox.

Let’s look at it from your customer’s perspective. They were at the winery, they filled out a customer information card, or made a purchase and shipped bottles home; they either asked or were aware they’d be added to the mailing list and are hoping for special offers, events or other news. This is a transaction of trust - especially in current times where people are more aware than ever about hackers and cyber security. As a payback for their trust in you, they expect to get something of value back and on a reliable basis. If the only thing you have to offer them is random, all about sales or generic, they will view it as not worth their time and/or information. You violate that trust.

Market Segmentation

  1. Geographic Segmentation

    The easiest and quickest way to segment your database is through geography. For instance, target people in a certain area for events, or shipping offers based on weather. If you don’t, and someone in Florida gets an invite for an event in Seattle, they will be insulted, and may trust you less. They look to your brand for accountability, integrity, and accuracy. When they joined the mailing list, they felt a connection; now they may think you’re careless and not paying attention to where they live. The perception that you are inaccurate and not paying attention to details will reflect onto your brand, products, and services. Bottom line, you risk customers not becoming loyal repeat purchasers and unsubscribing from your list.

    “Taking the winery on the road” is a tremendous opportunity to bring the winery and the wines to customers who may not make it back to your tasting room. Your winery can develop relationships with other retailers and cross-promotions can become beneficial to both. It is also valuable for Wine Club members to host a tasting at their home in a key market. Sales Managers and “Winery Ambassadors” can visit regional markets 1-2 days early and have local event s for those on the mailing list. With a little effort, and planning, you can create local opportunities anywhere you’re not local. However, you won’t pull it off without successful geographic email segmentation.
  2. Content-specific Segmentation

    This is the next step beyond basic geography, titles, or club status. To increase effectiveness, email content needs to be based on analyzing multiple layers of the customer record, not just one. For example, what is their site traffic history on the web page, what products have they purchased in the past, what, if any pages/content did they download while visiting the site, including recipes or wine pairing. Knowing what their interests are can also be incredibly valuable as you work to target your customers with content relevant to them.

    As an example, imagine you decide to send a customer a special offer on a wine they’ve never looked at nor purchased. Why would they care? Some will appreciate the email and may make a purchase because they’ve purchased something else from you in the past, but most will not. Instead, they’ll ignore it or, worse yet, mark it as spam or unsubscribe. The more irrelevant an email is to a contact’s interests, the higher the risk of the contact marking the email as spam and never seeing your emails again.

    By segmenting by interest and you can send content that is relevant to them. Maybe when they joined the winery mailing list, they indicated they love recipes and like to cook. Why not include them in an email about a new wine and include a food and wine pairing recipe element to your email. This will greatly increase your rate of engagement with this customer segment. The more they engage, the more likely they are to keep an eye out for further emails and repeat that engagement until it becomes a regular habit.
  3. Behavior-specific Segmentation

    With this level of segmentation, you start by reviewing their site history. How long do they stay on a page? How many pages do they view on an average visit? Do they visit the site and make a purchase, or do they repeatedly come and go before finally buying? Which competitors do they visit? Is this their first visit to the site or their hundredth?

This type of information relies on advanced analytics tools which help form behavior profiles. Each profile type will respond to different email approaches. Some may only want an introduction to what you offer. Some may want extensive information. Impulse buyers will bite on sales for individual items without thinking, but often only on the items they’re truly interested in. You don’t want to deluge them with choice. You want them to click through as quickly as possible.

Nervous buyers will respond to packages where they perceive a greater overall savings. There may be items in that package they’re not as interested in, but they see the overall savings when items are combined. Even if that package is more than they might have spent on items they want, the total savings makes them feel they’re getting an exceptional deal. That nervousness is no longer about buying the item; it’s now about missing the deal. Gentle pushes will appeal to new contacts. Some will want professional language vs. friendly language. Tailor this information to drastically increase the responses from your email lists.

Implementing these strategies

You don’t need to tackle your entire email list or hammer out every level of email marketing segmentation at once. It’s more valuable to master one of these strategies before developing the next one than it is to fumble with implementing all of them at once. Baby-steps count. Start with one idea and build on it. The single most important thing is to try segmentation in all campaigns. Doing so will undoubtedly increase your success rates and metrics for your email and DTC campaigns.


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