How Segmentation and Automation Can Transform Your Email Marketing

Segmentation and automation are big terms in the world of email marketing right now.

And for good reason: Marketers and businesses are using both strategies together to send more relevant messages to customers – and are seeing major boosts in revenue and overall ROI on email marketing as a result!

But maybe you’re wondering, “What are segmentation and automation…and how will they improve my email marketing?

In this post, we’ll take an in-depth look at what segmentation and automation are and how you can apply them to your own email strategy!

Let’s jump right in.

Segmentation Increases Relevance

First things first: Let’s define segmentation so we’re all on the same page.

Segmentation is essentially organizing your subscriber database into smaller, more specific lists.

For example, you could segment based on a subscriber’s location, whether they are male or female, their age, purchase history, etc.

By creating categorical “segments” marketers can deliver more relevant content to the different groups of people on their list.

And by sending more relevant messages, you’re creating a more engaged audience.

The numbers prove it, too: Some marketers have reported as much as a 760% increase in revenue from segmented campaigns, while a DMA report showed that segmented lists generate 58% of all email revenue.

So how does it work?

Great question! Let’s look at the segmentation process in a bit more detail.

how to segment your list

Here at Sendlane, there are 3 possible ways to organize your subscribers into categorical lists so you can send more relevant emails:

1. Opt-In Forms

By collecting subscriber info up front, you can build your list and segment subscribers simultaneously and put the data to good use right away.

To do this, you would create individual opt-in forms for each interest-based page you have, or for the various products or services you offer.

Since each opt-in form funnels into a different list, subscribers will self-segment as they sign up for the content they’re interested in.

2. Tags

This feature allows you to identify subscribers (who are already on your list) based on their actions.

Tags can be applied to any link in an email – Autoresponder, Workflow, or Campaign – that you send out.

If a recipient clicks on a tagged link, a Tag will be applied to their subscriber profile.

For a step-by-step tutorial on tagging, you can check out our knowledge base article here!

3. Segmentation

Our segmentation feature allows you to filter your list based on user data, and then use that data to organize subscribers into smaller, more targeted groups.

Head to our knowledge base to learn how to use the segmentation feature!


List hygiene is the most popular use of segmentation because it keeps your list clean and engaged.

But, you can also use segments to send customized content to subscribers who are actively opening and clicking your messages!

Say you own an online business, and you want to send out emails promoting new items or events within the different departments of your company.

By creating segments within your list of email subscribers, you can find out which customers are interested in information about video marketing tools vs. those who want to hear about affiliate opportunities.

This way, you’re not sending a mass message about everything you do to everyone – you’re sending specific messages based on the customer’s interests.

Let’s look at some real-life examples, too.

This Old Navy email is promoting all kinds of different products:

See how they have a variety of products and multiple calls to action?

It’s not customized to the recipient’s interests, and it’s got a lot of different conversion paths.

There’s no tailored offerings – it’s kind of just an information dump.

Now take a look at this email from Sendlane:


See how it’s only promoting a single blog article to those who’ve self-segmented into a list to receive newsletter and blog updates?

It’s much less chaotic, and there’s a single path for conversion front and center (instead of many paths that distract the reader).

The message appeals to the readers interests AND it’s very clear what the recipients of this message are expected to do next.

And that’s not all.

Email marketing segmentation has a variety of benefits, including:

The bottom line: Segments help improve message relevancy.

Makes sense, right?

Now that we understand segments, let’s look at where automation comes in.

Automation for Perfect Timing

Automated emails are triggered emails or email sequences that automatically get sent to a subscriber.

But it gets better: Automation is helping free up the marketing department, too.

By establishing automated email sequences, marketers can help ensure they’re sending the right message at the right time (without having to manually send messages one by one).

And guess what?

It works.

In fact, automated emails have a 70.5% higher open rate and 152% higher click-through rates than “business as usual” marketing messages.

Sendlane Automation

There are two Sendlane tools that allow you to send automated email sequences to your Lists:


Autoresponders are the simplest form of email automation.

These are also known as standard Drip-style Campaigns.

Every subscriber that progresses through a series of Autoresponders will receive the same set of emails, usually a day part and in the same order, regardless of their activity.

Learn how to create an autoresponder series here!


Workflows can be used for simple or more complex automation.

These are dynamic, action-based flows of emails that can self-clean, self-segment, and much more!

You can set up your Workflow to send out the same set of emails for a designated period of time in the same order, just like Autoresponders…

OR You can set up your Workflow to send behavior based emails, i.e. did the subscriber open or click my latest email?

If they did not, send a personalized, follow-up email to re-engage.

If they did, continue with the rest of the Workflow.

Workflows have a wide range of capabilities, allowing you to automatically subscribe or unsubscribe recipients from lists, add or remove Tags, and so much more.

Check out our step-by-step tutorial on creating a Workflow here!

So what does this look like in action?

Check out the below email from Survey Monkey. This is an automated email that is sent out to new members of the website immediately after they’ve signed up.

The message is clear and tells the new user exactly what they can do with their new account.

Although the email itself is quite simple, it is a quick, easy way for Survey Monkey to engage with their new users.

And this is just one of many ways you can put automation to good use.

So what happens when you use these two tactics together?

The One-Two Punch that Delivers

It’s no big surprise that the combination of segmented and automated emails are delivering impressive results.

In fact, some might say these two tactics are completely revolutionizing the way email marketing works.


Because long gone are the days of the one-size-fits-all message.

Today, customers expect more – and personalized, highly relevant messages are important to them.

Data shows that 74% of consumers get frustrated when content appears that has nothing to do with their interests.

However, working together, these two strategies let marketers deliver the right message to the right people at the right time.

Think of it as a one-two punch that makes impressive contact with the target.

Here’s an example of segmentation and automation working together:


The segmentation

In this example, the subscriber would have been part of a segment for recently completed trips.

It’s personalized, too: Notice how up top, the name of the destination that the traveler just visited is clearly stated.

The automation

We know this is an automated message because the email was triggered by the end date of the traveler’s journey.

By establishing automated sequences that follow up with travelers, Priceline is able to keep in touch with past customers and are using a discount to encourage future travel.

This automation keeps the sales funnel moving, and encourages the customer to shop with them again.

Why it’s so effective

This email message feels tailor made for the recipient.

It was sent at the right moment (at the end of a trip booked through the site), it’s personalized (includes recent destination), and it’s compelling (has a discount for booking future travel).

Now, when we compare this to a standard mass email that’s sent out to all customers regardless of factors like recent purchases, interests, demographics, etc., you can fully understand how dramatically different the two types of email messages are.

One is clearly a one-size-fits-all, while the other is relevant, engaging, and personalized.

If you had to choose between the two types of messages, which would you prefer?

Most likely the one that’s more customized for your individual needs and interests.

Segmentation and Automation Wrap Up

The main lesson here: Keep things general, and you risk being lost in the mass of emails that come into the inbox every day.

Put segmentation and automation to work when it comes to email marketing, and your subscribers will thank you.

Be sure you have an effective Email Marketing Service, like Sendlane, on your side that is designed to help you segment and automate efficiently.

You’ll get more opens, more reads, and ultimately, more conversions that bring in money.

Get out there and get started with your new strategy today!

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Caitlin Hutchinson

Caitlin Hutchinson

Brand Marketing ManagerSendlane
A native of San Diego, California, Caitlin has a passion for developing creative and engaging marketing content. Primarily responsible for overseeing the development, execution and delivery of digital content across all of Sendlane’s channels while maintaining an online presence of Sendlane's team culture. Host of The Marketing Automation Hustle Podcast and Sendlane Youtube Training Channel. Works closely with the marketing team to manage creative projects and develop creative assets/solutions to enhance the brand. Collaborates at the intersection of marketing, product, content, and sales to develop powerful and memorable stories and interactive experiences that bring the Sendlane vision to life.
Caitlin Hutchinson