Everyone is not your customer. Some people might be at some time in the future and others never will be. So if you have limited time and marketing resources, you want to narrow your focus, concentrating on a niche where you can be the best choice.

In a recent podcast, my guest Gerard Doyle drove that point home when he said that no one recommends the third best restaurant in town.

Segment Your Customers

Even if you have narrowed your market and have a well defined target audience, your customers are not all the same. Some are casual buyers and others are rapid fans. Some only care about your sales and promotions, and some are frequent buyers. When you begin to think of customers as individuals it is easy to understand that what appeals to one may not interest another.

As you plan email newsletters to be sent to existing customers, you shouldn’t treat them as if they were all the same. If you do, some of your customers will get too much information, others not enough, or they will get information at the wrong time.

Good email marketing is about relevance. Relevant emails are opened, irrelevant emails are unopened or deleted.The result is that many of these customers, who you fought so hard to attract, will simply unsubscribe from your email newsletter. Then you won’t be able to talk to them at all..

Potential Email Segmentation Strategies

There are lots of ways to divide your customers. Recency, frequency, and monetary value are three key ways to segment your customer base. Here are a few ways to look at your customers:

  • Divide customers by purchase history. If you have a product people are likely to buy often, create a subset of frequent shoppers. Special offers and invitations to special events may appeal to this group. VIPs are a wonderful first audience segment. Try emailing your very best customers your earliest product announcements or best deals.
  • Separate experts and beginners. If you have a product that customers need to learn more about, divide your list by expertise. That way you aren’t boring experienced customers with emails about how to get started or overwhelming new customers with more advanced information.
  • Divide by the types of products they have bought. If you have a broad product line, this will allow you to offer coupons to encourage repeat purchases, or cross promote and introduce new products to old customers.
  • Divide by geography. This allows you to promote local events to customers who are near enough to attend in person.

Data Helps Divide the Groups

One of the best things about email marketing is that you can use customer interactions with your email to segment your audience. If you have only limited information about your customers send a few general emails when they join the list. Make sure you have something for everyone, then look at your reporting data to see who clicks on which article or offer.

By looking for patterns, you can begin to create one or two audience segments. Once you identify one or more segments, send a targeted test email to each with different subject lines and content directing readers to targeted content. Emails that are targeted to each audience’s interest are more likely to get better open and click-through rates.

If you use a product like Constant Contact you can take advantage of features like Click Email Segmentation. With these tools readers are dropped into different lists based on which links they click. They are automatically segmented by interest and you can now begin delivering more custom messages.

Worth the Time

Yes, creating custom campaigns for niche audiences is time consuming, but if you actually want people to pay attention to the emails you are sending, then send them something that is relevant to them. For example, a sporting goods shop which sends an email to people interested in skiing with the subject link “Ski Blow-Out Sale” will see dramatically better results than a general “End-of-Season Sale” email. So if you want to sell more, then treat customers like individuals by sending more personal and relevant messages.

Want to learn more about email segmentation for your business and using advanced email tools? Check my webinar on email personalization.