Jun 1

Tips for Segmenting Your Email Marketing Audience

“If you learn only one thing during my class, it’s that you need to get the right message to the right people at the right time.”

Famous words of one of my favorite advertising professors at GVSU spoken nearly every class period. I took three of his courses during my college career, so his motto then was almost reminiscent of a Denham’s Dentifrice commercial. Now a few years into my professional career, I’ve found this solid advice rings true time and time again.

With the constant bombardment of messages we receive daily, strategically approaching how you connect with each of your target audiences is key to making your message stand out among the rest. Basically, anyone can send you a marketing email — but only those addressing your specific needs will have you actually opening and engaging with that email.

Following are a few tips to help you use the right message for the right people when sending marketing emails — whether newsletters, updates or promotions or a simple hello — to boost interactions with your audiences.

Organize your contacts

If you know me, you know I firmly believe in organization. Before you can start sending tailored messages, you have to define your audiences. This, of course, will depend on the kind of organization you are. A nonprofit may want to classify each of its contacts based on their involvement within the organization. On the other hand, a law firm may classify its client contacts by each industry it serves or by the type of issue it is handling. Others may use particular demographics or psychographics. By taking this first step, you can then affirm what each of these audiences needs to hear from you.


Keep your segments broad

Time is of the essence, and we often don’t have enough of it. While segmenting specific audiences is essential to increasing engagement, you don’t want to be too specific.

If you’re sending emails that take hours to craft to just a handful of people, you’re wasting time and energy. Better to have three or four segmented audiences that really hit the nail on the head than send dozens of specific emails that take more time than they’re worth. If you’re a smaller business finding you have more than a handful of audiences, consider if/how content across your segments ever overlaps and try combining.


Massage your messaging

Now that you’ve divided your contacts into different groups, you can be more thoughtful about the content you’re sending them. Note these differences don’t have to always be big ones. Sometimes it’s a matter of a group of people to an exclusive event, other times it’s just switching up the order of updates and particular word choice in a general newsletter.

Tone and voice also play a role here — you can send different groups of people to the same content just by pitching it to them differently and making it meaningful to them. For example, a major donor versus an occasional volunteer may both be interested in the event you’re organizing, but the way each give to an organization is very different, which calls for a separate email to peek both groups’ interest.

Segmenting is not exclusive to the e-newsletter platform. Approach this as you would a strong social media strategy — you don’t share all the same kinds of information across your platforms as you have different followers looking for different content on each. By being intentional with the specific language you’re sending to specific audiences, you’ll find that messaging resonates more deeply with your audience, which will, in turn, increase your organization’s connection and activity.

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