How to Increase Your Email Marketing ROI With Segmentation

If you’re looking for a timely, measurable way to increase your email marketing ROI, then you’re in the right place. 

Timely as in, right away. Before the seasons change. Faster than you can binge a new season of your favorite series on Netflix. (Okay, maybe not that fast, but pretty close.)

Measurable as in actual dollars – or whatever currency fuels your business.

So let’s get to it.

We start with the statistic you see everywhere: The average ROI for email marketing is $38 for every $1 spent.

Everyone cites it, but few read the original report… we did! And we found another pretty crazy stat that we just had to share…

Did you know a full 77% of this email marketing ROI results from segmentation? 

Which means, if you aren’t using segmentation in your email marketing, you’re missing out on $30 of that $38 ROI for every $1 spent.

That’s a lot of money left on the table. 

And today you’re going to learn how to scoop it all up by segmenting your email list for laser-focused marketing and higher conversions.

In this “Segmentation 101” article, you’ll discover:

  • How to identify the primary segments of your market (so you can avoid “list fatigue” and gain higher engagement from your list)
  • Where and how to create segments for your email list (before, during, and after signup)
  • When to send targeted emails to each segment (based on behavior, sales cycle, and season)
  • How to evaluate and refine your segmentation

Be sure to bookmark this post, as it contains everything you need to get started with segmentation, including how to get a 14-day free trial of Sendlane to practice your segmentation chops. 

(Did we mention there are no setup fees, no contracts, and no limits with Sendlane? Yeah, we thought you’d like that, too.)

Now let’s get started.

Identify the primary segments of your market

Not every contact on your list is a perfect candidate for every product or service you sell. 

When you use a “spray and pray” approach to email marketing (sending every message to every individual contact), you risk alienating each person who isn’t the right fit for your current message or offer.

For example, say an athletic supply store sends a series of campaigns offering bicycling gear to increase sales in time for an upcoming bike race. 

The runners, tennis players, and swimmers on their list get frustrated by the influx of messages that don’t apply to them.  And start to feel like the athletic supply store doesn’t cater to their needs anymore. 

This dissatisfaction shows up as falling engagement statistics, lower open rates, and higher numbers of unsubscribes.

Segmentation allows you to send targeted messages to the right audience every time, without alienating contacts who don’t fit your current offer or topic. 

Here are 3 main ways to segment 

1. Situation, or “I have this problem/goal”

Does your business help people when they run into a specific problem or goal?

Calling out the particular situation in your ideal customer’s language is an excellent way to segment. 

Think of this as the, “hey, I get you” method.

For example, Nexus Pest Solutions asks contacts right on the homepage about their current pest problems:

This is a really effective use of situational segmentation because it means that someone who’s dealing with ants won’t get a message about termites (at least not until the ant problem disappears).

2. Stage, or level of experience

You don’t want to send beginner messages to an advanced contact or scare off a beginner with your top-tier offer.

This approach is more like, “tell me how far you’ve gotten so I can help you go the rest of the way.” 

Ryan Levesque, is a top business coach and author who teaches the Ask Method for surveying and segmenting an audience.

He practices what he preaches in this stage based opt-in survey:

By asking what stage his new contact’s are at, Ryan is able to customize his messages and examples to fit these five segments. Everyone feels like they are getting customized training – because they are.

And his million-dollar launches are proof this works.

3. Role or status

Sometimes your segments are easily identified by what they do or want. This could mean the jobs they hold (or want to hold), the conditions they want to improve (like diabetes patients or back pain sufferers), or the lifestyle choices they want to enhance (like church leader, vegan, or stay-at-home mom).

Lyft segments visitors by asking whether they are looking for a ride or want to become a driver. Pretty simple!

Now that you know the ways to segment, it’s time to see it in action.

Know where and how to create segments for your email list

While it’s ideal to segment your list at signup, this isn’t always possible. 

And even when it is, there may be further segmentation opportunities to increase your conversions over time.

For this reason you need to know how to segment at every stage of the journey.

Segment before signup

“Psst…hey you! We’re over here – come join us!”

Using landing pages or home pages to segment means your contact self-selects their problem before they even see your subscribe button. 

You’re waving at them from across the room, encouraging them to join group of people with the same problem or goal, rather than wander around alone.

Once they decide to subscribe, you need to track it in Sendlane. Go to the List tab and choose Segment to document the Signup Source of your new segment. That’s it!

Segmenting by Signup Source in Sendlane means the signup box is already coded to tag this contact without any extra work on your part or her part. Easy!

Segment during signup

Have you ever been to a party or networking event with a lot of new faces and not known what to talk about? 

Imagine if everyone who came up to you was wearing a nametag which described a topic of mutual interest. How easy would it be to make friends after that? 

Segmentation during signup is similar. You’re asking your new contact what he/she most wants to know from you so you’ll know what to say. 

The dropdown list in the example below was created in two minutes using the Webform Builder within the Integrations tab in Sendlane. The menu is drag and drop, making it fast and easy.

Segment after signup

A relationship in real life continues evolving after the first hello. 

With segmentation, you can likewise deepen your relationship with contacts who invite you into their email boxes on a regular basis. 

You do this by monitoring the actions they take, like clicking links, or by asking questions. This allows you to use “tags” to note traits and preferences. 

In Sendlane, tagging is quick work. After creating the tabs, a Workflow within the Automations tab allows you to create custom sequences of emails and events. A series of prompts makes setup quick and easy – no confusion.

This further segmentation leads to even higher conversions because the messages are laser-focused to contain the right offer for the right contact.

Now that you know where and how to segment, keep reading to discover when to send emails to your segments for the best results.

Determine when to send targeted emails to each segment

Segmentation gives you maximum flexibility and convenience in marketing to your email list, no matter what your topic or offer.

Tagging allows you to create super-targeted segments with a few clicks.

Like “People who were born on November 1, love unicorns, and clicked to vote on the name of the company goat…” now that’s a specific segment!

And the powerful combination of segmentation-plus-automation means you can send evergreen emails to every contact who fits your specific criteria. 

Imagine sending a highly specific offer or message to every single person who clicks a link in the third email of your welcome series… forever.

And then a few weeks later sending another email to those buyers checking in on their satisfaction. And so on…

Segmentation allows you to be personal and attentive when scaling (which is impossible to do on your own).

Here are three ways you can market to segments of your email list.

contact behavior

When your contact clicks a link, you can respond to his interest with an automated follow-up email or series.

For example, when a contact clicks on a link but does not purchase within a specified period, you can follow up with an automated email that contains a successful case study or a convincing “objection-busting” email to address his concerns.

You know he’s interested by his click, and segmentation allows you to give him enough information to make an informed decision.

To do this in Sendlane, navigate to the List tab. Then click Global Segment. 

You can add as many conditions to this segment as you need to get the specific type of contact who will respond best to your follow-up email or offer.

Just click the “Add Another Condition” button to keep narrowing down your audience preferences.

Sales cycle

There are logical steps after a purchase, and if you have an automated email followup, you can capture repeat business.

For example, a couple who just bought homeowner’s insurance from you for the first time is likely a good candidate for life insurance soon. They’ve just locked into a mortgage and want to make sure they don’t lose the house in the event of tragedy.

To set up a global segment (meaning it applies to all your lists) of contacts who purchase certain products and services, go to the Lists tab, then click on Global Segments and choose Event Tracking. The “event” you are tracking is a specific sale!

(To add specific products to Sendlane for Tracking, choose the Integrations tab and then Event Tracking. A successful sale is a “conversion.”)

By anticipating needs and scheduling relevant information and offers, you’ll always seem like you’re looking out for your contacts and customers (because you are).

Season or event

Ch-ch-ch-changes. Use the seasons or current events to create segmented offers for your list.

A photography studio could send an automated email on a contact’s wedding anniversary to offer a new family portrait session so they continue capturing the memories of their life together.

A weight loss coach may send a “back to school” special offer to busy moms who finally have some time to think about themselves after a busy summer.

In these cases, simply choose the right segment for your offer and schedule an automation to announce it.

Within the Sendlane Campaign tab, you can choose to segment your email by Global Segment or tags.

Your contacts and customers have changing needs throughout the year just like you do. Pay attention to those needs, and you can craft perfectly-timed information and offers.

Discover how to evaluate and refine your segmentation

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to segment. 

(Note: We cannot confirm or deny that actual rocket scientists are using Sendlane right now.) 

Yet segmentation does require regular evaluation and fine-tuning to continue increasing your ROI.

Sendlane reporting makes it easy to understand how your segments and campaigns are performing. By setting a date every month to review these reports, you’ll be able to spot trends, opportunities, and gaps.

Here are three questions to ask as you review your email reports:

Your segmentation game will be on point if you take an hour a month to refine it. And you’ll have the conversions to prove it.

Start segmenting with Sendlane

Whew! That wasn’t so hard.

In fact, it’s a lot like being a good friend. You ask questions. You pay attention. You steer conversations toward good topics. 

Now the final step is up to you. 

Will you start segmenting today and get the full ROI from email marketing? 

With Sendlane and our 14-day free trial, you can take this post and create your segments step by step in as little as 15 minutes!

And if you like how it works, importing your existing list is a snap.

Kristen Dahlberg

Content ManagerSendlane
As a member of the Sendlane content marketing team, Kristen focuses on everything from organization to content curation and process improvement. She enjoys variety and the challenge of learning the best way to accomplish each new goal.

Outside of work, Kristen spends as much time as possible at the beach, soaking up the San Diego sunshine!