Segmentation - The 5th Element

Segmentation - The 5th Element

Do you remember this video of Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s long time CEO and world’s 19th richest man (according to Forbes), working up quite a sweat as he enthused about the lifeblood of the software behemoth, its developers?  Developers, developers, developers!

In the field of email marketing, that same chant could be repeated with the same rhythm and verve (but perhaps a little less perspiration) ad infinitum, however the word would be segmentation.  Segmentation, segmentation, segmentation!  Segmentation involves applying what you know about your customers to greatest effect.  If you segment properly, you’ll be in the best possible position to send the right content to the right people at the right time to prompt the right response.

Ultimately, segmentation comes down to 5 elements.  Who, What, When, Where and Why?  “Who are your audience?”,  “What are they doing?”,  “Where are they doing it?”, “When are they doing it?” and the 5th and final element, “Why?”.

Who are your audience?

The more you know about the people you’re communicating with, the better you can communicate with them.  Across all online channels today, customers expect you to know more about them and their interests and then to use this knowledge in future communication.  Maintaining and developing a profile of your customers can quickly help to ensure you’re communicating properly.  This is the foundation for everything that follows.

What are they doing?

There are a number of ways you can keep track of what your customers are doing online; monitor visits to and purchases on your website, track email opens and clicks, use snapshot reporting to review how many people have clicked and where or whether they’ve shared the content elsewhere to name but a few.  Soon enough you’ll have learned plenty about what kinds of things your customers are interested in and can use this information this at a granular, customer level to build more targeted segments and make your emails more relevant.

Where are they doing it?

In digital terms, this is about which channels your customers are engaging with the most.  Use all of the tools at your disposal and soon you’ll know the best places to target your existing and potential customers.  The most effective measures will also inform you about how to optimise your creative layout and where to position your calls to action for best results.

When are they doing it?

This is all about relevance.  It’s great if you can communicate the right messages to the right people – that’s a huge step – but to be truly relevant you need to learn when they’re online, when they read their emails, when they are idly browsing and when they’re in a buying mood.


All of the above helps you understand who your customers are, what they are doing, when and where they’re doing it.  If you can infer from this the reasons why, you’ve got it made.

Effective segmentation is probably the single most important element of any email marketing strategy – if you want your emails to be relevant, effective and engaging you need to think carefully about how you segment and target your audience on an ongoing basis.  According to Marketing Sherpa’s 2012 Email Marketing Benchmark report, less than one-third of organizations are sending relevant email communications, so this represents a massive opportunity for organisations that are prepared to invest in this area.

Why not start building a plan today?

08 Feb 2012

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