Segmenting data: a beginner’s guide

7 minute read

In my role at Sign-Up.to I’m often asked “What’s the best way of segmenting data?” by my clients. It’s a question that I welcome, segmenting your data is the key to achieving the best possible email marketing results. It’s really the best way to make your emails relevant and help your subscribers feel more engaged with your brand. The question is, where do you begin? It can seem like a daunting task so in this blog post I’ll look at how you can get started, breaking the process down into small and manageable steps.

Why are you going to segment your data?

First things first, what are you trying to achieve? Before you approach this task you need to think about your reasoning for it. Segmentation has to be viewed as a long term change, you don’t want to get a month or so down the line and realise you hadn’t thought about x, y or z, so thinking through your reasons is essential. I’d recommend talking with colleagues and exploring every eventuality. The obvious reason is that you want to increase the chances of a customer purchasing your product/service, but try and think further than that – in what way can you target them?

How are you going to segment it?

There are an endless number of ways in which you can segment your data, but ultimately it needs to be manageable, relevant and straightforward for it to really work. This all goes back to the reasons behind why you want to segment data but let’s face it, you want to get the best return from your email marketing activities, so make your email as relevant as possible. It is truly the best way of interacting with your subscribers and encouraging them to purchase. Below I have listed a few examples of how you could go about organising your data, but it will always depend on the type of emails you plan on sending.

  • Retail: Think about the products you are selling and remember who your subscribers are. If you sell products for both genders you might want to avoid sending an email about men’s clothing to women. Try and think about how you could segment by product area and this could be based on purchases made in the past.
  • Restaurant: If you own more than one restaurant an obvious way of dividing your data could be through location. Tailor the emails your subscriber receives to the area in which they live and the campaign will immediately feel more relevant to the recipient.
  • Events company: Depending on the event you’re hosting segmenting data by ticket type could be really valuable. It could encourage cross and upselling, and your subscribers will be able to relate to the content of your email.

These ideas can obviously be applied to other industries, but this just touches on a few ideas. If you’re unsure about what your subscribers are interested in, why don’t you ask them? Let them set their own preferences and tell you the emails they want to receive. They’re more likely to engage with you, and you’ll gain a better insight into the type of customer they are.

Getting started

So you’ve established why you need to segment data and thought about how to do it, but how are you going to put segmentation in place in your Sign-Up.to account?

The best way to organise your data is through setting up subscriber profiles. This will allow you to set up custom fields and organise your data as much as you need to. For example, you might be keen to divide your database into categories – ideal for retailers or companies selling multiple products. Using the ‘multiple select’ subscriber profile option you’ll be able to add as many product categories as you need (see the image on the right). Subscribers can then set their preferences in your data capture forms, or you could apply a category if you’re importing data manually. In ‘Send’ you’ll then be able to set up send lists based on the categories set up. Let’s say you had a push on kids toys you might send the list out to people who have shown an interest in that area, or purchased kids products in the past.

There are also other ways in which to segment data, gender and location are two classic examples. You can also use our target by activity feature which lets you send out emails based on how your subscribers engage with an email campaign you’ve sent them.

I hope this has given you a good idea on how to get started with segmenting your subscriber data. I can’t recommend it enough and, with a little bit of time sorting through data, you’re going to be in a strong position to send out great email campaigns and really understand who your subscribers are and what they’re interested in. If you have any questions about how to get started, or using the Sign-Up.to features mentioned in this post please drop our Support team an email or leave a comment below.