Segmentation: Show Your Subscribers You Really Get Them

David Taitelbaum, Marketing Strategist

David Taitelbaum, Marketing Strategist

Author Bio

As the leader of West Coast strategy services for Oracle's Bronto Software, David Taitelbaum consults with brands on digital marketing strategy and customer engagement campaigns throughout North America and Asia. He has over 15 years of experience leading ecommerce organizations and developing successful marketing campaigns for companies of all sizes. Most recently, Taitelbaum oversaw global ecommerce operations for City of Sleep, including support, marketing and channel distribution. He is a regular contributor to Bronto’s Commerce Marketing blog. When he is not guiding Bronto’s clients to strategic marketing success, he is spending time at home with his lovely wife, raising their two children.

For email marketers, the struggle to get an email open is real. But with the sheer volume of emails customers receive, it’s no wonder that some seem to be playing hard to get. To make your messages stand out and encourage more customers to open, it’s important to get to know them.

Check out these examples from two popular industries, jewelry and workout gear, to see how segmentation can give you a leg up in speaking to your customers.

Segmentation That Really Shines

If I get an email offer for jewelry discounts, there’s a pretty good chance I’ll open it. After all, jewelry is a surefire way to ensure I get my wife a present she’ll love. But how can you go beyond the typical Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day and Christmas batch-and-blast email campaigns? Know your customers better.

Here are two ways to do just that:

Ask Subscribers for More Information
If you keep your request short and sweet, many consumers will provide this info at sign-up. But only request info that can help you serve the customer and give you a return on the investment. Blue Nile does a great job with their initial pop-up by teasing out whether new subscribers might be planning to propose anytime soon. They ask if subscribers are married, engaged, or soon to be engaged.  Subscribers who are soon to be engaged could potentially be ready to make a large purchase in the very near future and come back for other purchases during their lifetime, and you’ve found them with one simple question. You can now add them to a series promoting engagement rings. That’s the power of meaningful segmentation.

Use Customer Order History
When I signed up for Blue Nile, I told them I’m married, which indicated I wasn’t a candidate for the engagement ring series. However, if they were to take a look at my order history, they would see I exclusively buy aquamarine jewelry and I buy it in December and May. With just a bit of work, they can easily add me to a segment based on gemstone preference. It would be pretty easy to create dynamic email campaigns for special occasions where the gemstone is the dynamic element. Just think how much more likely I’d be to engage with the email if it’s based on my purchase history.

To encourage opens, you could dynamically include the segment info in your subject line, such as:

  • Check out our top-rated Aquamarine jewelry
  • Aquamarine Jewelry for Mother’s Day
  • Create a Unique Aquamarine Piece for Christmas

You can use the same email for all gemstones and apply the appropriate gemstone with a dynamic element. You can even send an “informational” email several weeks in advance with no discount offered. The customer gets a first look at what’s available and can start scoping out potential gift ideas. If they add jewelry to the basket but don’t complete the order, they become good candidates for a cart abandonment series and/or retargeting ads.

Check out the Facebook retargeting ad and cart abandonment email I received while shopping for a Christmas gift for my wife.

Blue Nile examplesThis highly segmented form of advertising typically results in improved engagement, which is measured by open and click-through rates. Your ability to follow up with highly targeted cart abandonment and retargeting campaigns should only improve your chance of converting customers.

Secure Your Pro Status With the Fitness Fanatics

Why send a generic message to an athletic audience when you can help your customers find the best gear and provide them with relevant training info to help them hit their fitness goals? Although we’re dealing with a different product line, the same marketing principles still apply.

Ask Subscribers for More Information
2XU gives you the option to indicate what type of activity you perform to stay fit. If you’re a Crossfit fan, you’ll probably want gear that focuses on recovery, while swimmers will want to shop for swim gear. 2XU really knows their audience and has tailored their preference center for those who are serious about achieving their fitness goals.

Preference Center examplesIt’s also helpful to know if a subscriber is training for an upcoming event. If they indicate they’re training for a triathlon, consider adding them to a triathlon email series that combines product-specific marketing with targeted content. Triathletes spend dozens of hours training, in addition to thousands of dollars on gear, entrance fees and travel. Show them you’re serious about helping them perform, and they’ll be much more likely to engage with your email messaging.

Use Customer Order History
Everlast does a nice job segmenting their subscribers based on activity. They recognize that an MMA enthusiast has different gear and training needs than a boxer, and some subscribers prefer Everlast training apparel but will never set foot in a boxing ring or the octagon.

Using order history and customer data, Everlast built segments and added a dynamic element in the subject line for their recent “12 Days of Christmas” campaign. Here are some examples:

  • Coaching Gear – 40% off – Today Only
  • Today’s Flash>>40% off MMA & Fitness Gear
  • All-Day Event: 40% Off Apparel

Throughout the year, you can use these segments for a content engagement series. Remember, customers who are fitness fanatics will spend much more time pursuing their fitness goals than actually shopping for fitness products. But if you can provide relevant content to motivate your subscribers and help them achieve their goals, they’ll see you as a valuable resource and be more likely to engage with your brand and your emails.

Everlast’s #TeamEverlast is full of training information from coaches as well as MMA and boxing athletes. Everlast has become synonymous with fight sports, and they’re able to combine articles on the latest fights, training, and tips from up-and-coming contenders, which makes it even more likely that their subscribers will open and read their emails.

Everlast exampleI hope these examples have inspired you to get to know your customers better. Have any examples from your industry? Share them with us below.


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