How Email Segmentation Could Boost Your Retention

How smart is your email strategy for your digital business?

As we’ve said before, getting people on your list is one thing, but it’s even more important what you do with them next.

Whether you’re a SaaS, an ecommerce business, or a seller of digital products and services, one thing every business wants is to successfully retain customers. After all, it tends to be cheaper and more cost effective to keep your current customers than to find new ones.

Email marketing works. In fact, the graph from Neil Patel below shows it far outdoing other methods in terms of ROI…


… but the key is that you have to have good strategy behind it to see results.

Email segmentation is important if you want to smart about your business email strategy. It’s also a good way to boost your chances of retaining those customers…

Why Are “Blanket” Emails A Bad Idea?

You hear the word “relevance” discussed regularly when it comes to any form of marketing. We want to publish “relevant” content, present “relevant” offers and target the right audience with those things.

Email is no different. If I purchase makeup from your online store, how likely is it that I’ll also be interested in men’s socks? Yet many online sellers work off the basis of blanket emailing everything they have to say to every person on their list.

By my second or third men’s sock sale email, I’ve been trained to believe that your emails are not relevant to me and I’ve stopped opening them. If I don’t open any of your emails, you may start to slip from my mind as being a business relevant to my needs, then how likely will I be to come back and shop again?

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Why Segmentation Works

We’ve covered segmentation previously so we won’t labor over the point, but in a nutshell, segmentation works because it allows you to be more targeted with your messaging so that relevant messages are put in front of the right people.

These statistics from Mailchimp show how segmented email campaigns do better than those which aren’t:


As Neil Patel puts it, email segmentation helps you to find untapped potential in your list and take advantage of it.



Source: Neil Patel

Avoid Spam Folders

The whole purpose of email marketing gets defeated if your emails end up on a quick trip to the spam folder. One way to avoid this is to do your best to get good open and action rates on your emails.

Email service providers note whether or not your emails are getting opened, links are getting clicked, or actions such as replying or flagging as important are taken. If you’re sending irrelevant, blanket emails which are ignored or deleted, expect to end up in spam boxes and have your task of retaining customers made even more difficult.

How To Segment

A major benefit of segmenting is that it allows you to respond appropriately to customer behavior and serve up relevant information to them. Previously, we looked at some basic tagging in Infusionsoft to help you create segments, but let’s look at a few slightly more advanced segmentation ideas:


This is a basic way to create a segment, but look at what you can do with it. Simply knowing age, gender or job role can allow you to adjust your messaging for maximum engagement, even if it is essentially the same thing you are promoting.

Email Marketing On Acid provide a great example of this from Fit For Me.The message is exactly the same as they are sharing the same promotion, but the image on the left could be sent out to younger subscribers, while the one on the right is sent out to an older age group. This way they have elements that any of their subscribers can relate to.


Product Category Preferences

How does a 7000% increase in email marketing revenue sound? In this example from EmailMonday, Totes Isotoner Group noticed that many shoppers were only visiting a single product category: umbrellas, gloves, or boots.

When they segmented those consumers and sent targeted email offers based on that category, they saw more browsers becoming buyers and achieved that impressive 7000% statistic. See how relevance works? The company will also be more likely to keep those customers because they understand their preferences.

Your Best Customers

However you define “best customers”, creating a segment for them is a good idea. This way you can not only send them special offers, but encourage them to engage with your business.

For example, you may want to survey them and get their input on new products they’d like or any ideas they’d like to see implemented. You could also use this segment as a means to encourage referrals of new business, perhaps rewarding them for doing so.

The idea is that you want to keep nurturing those top customers. Make them feel special and you will be more likely to hang on to them.

Abandoned Tasks

This is a good one for any SaaS out there. Churn is always of high concern, so you want to make a move early to prevent it. Say your client abandons a task part way through in your software, it could be because they were busy with something else and decided to leave, but it could also be because they got confused or something went wrong.

If you can set up a system so that the abandoned task triggers a tag rule, you can send an email seeking to find out why they abandoned the task. You then have an opportunity to help the customer succeed and potentially intervene before they leave.

Survey Results

If you’re starting close to scratch and need a way to quickly understand what customer preferences are, surveys or quizzes can be a great way to do it. In fact, as Marketo shows, the evidence is in that people love taking quizzes.

For maximum effectiveness, you need to be quite thoughtful with the questions that you ask, so that you can generate useful results of preferences, ability or personality. You can then segment your customers based on the answers they gave you.

Look at Tru&Co for a perfect example. The online lingerie retailers offer a 10% discount to those who complete their quiz and use it as a means to recommend products which will suit the preferences of the customer. This is also a great way for them to send targeted email offers which make sense to the customer.


Geographic Location

It goes without saying that sometimes an offer may be better suited to those in a certain geographic location more than others, but Email On Acid demonstrates how you could take this a step further…

If you know where someone is located, what else do you know about them? That’s right, you can understand the kinds of weather patterns they deal with and make offers accordingly (especially if you are an ecommerce seller).

Skymosity is a company set up to track weather patterns and help you to segment customers accordingly. To share the example given by Email On Acid, athletic company Brooks used this data to create multiple campaigns based upon weather conditions and temperature range. This is a powerful way to remain relevant!


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Final Thoughts

How does email segmentation boost retention? Simply by allowing you to remain relevant in the eyes of the customer, keeping you on their minds and ensuring that your emails get opened.

Segmentation is a powerful way to encourage engagement, promote repeat business and therefore retention of your customers.

Different email marketing platforms support segmentation in different ways, and it’s important to understand what are your most valuable segmentation cohorts when choosing the best marketing platform.

There are literally dozens of different ways you can segment your audience, but look to try some more advanced methods if you really want to increase your chances of keeping the customer.
If you can deliver high customer value and increased email engagement, then your retention figures should look good.

Keith Perhac

Keith is the Founder of SegMetrics, and has spent the last decade working on optimizing marketing funnels and nurture campaigns.

SegMetrics was born out of a frustration with how impossibly hard it is to pull trustworthy, complete and actionable data out of his client's marketing tools.

How to Use Tags to Understand Your Marketing Funnels

Are you using marketing tags to the fullest?

Tagging is a great tool if you use it right, yet we commonly come across clients who are not using tagging effectively, or who are dumping every contact into the same list with no tagging happening at all.

Some people are even just tagging their leads for “someday” because they think they should be, but there is no pattern to their tags, and when the time comes, they don’t remember what the tags meant.

Making good use of tags will not only give you a better system for understanding how your leads go through your marekting funnels, but will help with using other tools, such as Segmetrics.

So why use tagging and how can you do it better?

Why Tag?

There is one key purpose for tagging – to segment your list.

List segmentation can help you get better open and click-through rates on emails as well as better conversion rates overall. By segmenting your audience according to certain characteristics or interests that they share (for example, they signed up for your free report or they attended your live event) you are better able to deliver messages that are well-targeted to your audience.

Mailchimp found in a recent survey that segmented email campaigns significantly out-performed campaigns that were not segmented.


Source: Mailchimp

A message that is targeted based on the preferences of the audience will have a much more powerful impact than simply blanket-emailing your entire list. You lose significant effectiveness if you send the same email to everyone because you train people to believe that your emails aren’t relevant. This means emails could be ignored in the future, even if the subject matter could have been of interest.

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The role of the tag

A tag helps you to break down data into small groups based on similar interests, actions or demographic measures. Tags help you create your targeted segments because they are easily grouped together and reviewed later. You can review like-for-like, or even see whether there are correlations between one and another.


Tags can also help you tell at a glance what a customer’s relationship with your business is like. Put simply, they allow you to quickly and easily assess the suitability of your messaging for the customer and facilitate the creation of customer segments.

A good system of tagging is great for tracking and data analysis purposes. With SegMetrics, for example, users can pull all of their tag data into SegMetrics in order to track key metrics for all of their Tags — Leads, Revenue, Lead Value, Conversion Rates, and more.

SegMetrics Tags reporting for EOFire. Learn more about how John Lee Dumas is using this Tags data.

SegMetrics users can also use this Tag data to create in-depth segments of users (e.g., all people who have signed up for a webinar or all people who have purchased a product). Now they can track this specific group of people.

Creating a Segment in SegMetrics allows you to zero in on who you want to track.
Creating a Segment in SegMetrics allows you to zero in on who you want to track.

Tags also help you to set up rules within your CRM. For example, if a customer cancels their subscription to your product or service, you will want to remove any membership related tags automatically, so that they are taken off certain mailing lists and are no longer able to access your product. Having the right tags set up means you don’t have to go through the hassle of manually removing customers.

Tagging Mistakes

By far the biggest and most common mistake we see with tagging is that people use it with that “for someday” mindset and so have no discernable system or pattern for their use. This means that two years later, they probably have no idea what the tag they used means and have forgotten how the lead came to have that tag attached to them.

If you create a mish-mash of tags all over the place, it makes the job of drawing useful data from them that much more difficult. If you have trouble finding useful data, or if it is a difficult process for you to get to it, you could easily be missing opportunities to optimize your business and get better results.

On the other hand, having an organized system for using tags gives you a better ability to make use of your CRM and makes life easier by adding efficiencies to your marketing. This alone can give you an advantage over less-organized competitors.

In short: Don’t be like the tagger who is randomly hitting every wall in town only to create a mess. Be organized and have a clear purpose.


Street art by Banksy – the organized kind of tagging

Tagging Best Practices

Tags can be further grouped into parent categories in your CRM. The best way to use these is to think of the parent category as a labeled drawer, while the tags are the things inside the drawer. You should have well-labeled parent categories and tags that you’d expect to find under them (no “junk drawers!”).

When setting up your parent categories and tags, it’s important to have a logical system which will still make sense to you in the future. You don’t want to be looking at a tag in a couple years time and have no idea what it means.

Most businesses will probably only need 5 or 6 good parent categories. The key for you will be to identify which ones make sense. We’ve included a few ideas from common examples in the next section.

Good Examples Of Tags To Use

Here are some examples of the types of tags that most businesses should use. A useful way of looking at it is that you want to be able to quickly determine an individual’s status with your company at first glance. Beginning with those customers or prospect categories is a good start.


Knowing the specifics behind how a customer signed up with you, what their behaviors are and what kinds of events and topics they’re interested in not only helps you deliver more of that targeted content, but it helps you to identify lead values and customer lifetime values for each source. For example, you might find that while one webinar gets you more lead numbers, a totally different one tends to bring in customers who stay longer or buy more. This tells you what to focus on if you’re looking for good business growth.

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Final Thoughts

Tagging is a vital way to make the best use of your CRM and ensure that you have created a good system. Tags help you segment your audience so that you can be very targeted with your messaging, as well as gather key data in order to identify improvements.

If you want to have a better experience with tagging, it’s important to create a good system for yourself, one that makes sense and that you will remember further down the track. This means you should break down the data you need into logical parent categories and create tags that fit well within those categories.

It’s often the small tweaks that can make a big difference in business, and having a good tagging system is one of those small, yet important changes.

Keith Perhac

Keith is the Founder of SegMetrics, and has spent the last decade working on optimizing marketing funnels and nurture campaigns.

SegMetrics was born out of a frustration with how impossibly hard it is to pull trustworthy, complete and actionable data out of his client's marketing tools.