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 do they relate to email marketing?
We want you to fully understand what both are, and how you can use them for your business, too.
In this post, we’ll take an in-depth look at how segmentation and automation are changing email marketing.
Let’s jump right in.
Segmentation for Increased Personalization
First things first: Let’s define segmentation so we’re all on the same page.
Segmentation is essentially the breaking down of email subscribers into categorical lists.
By creating “segments” (think geographic location, male or female, age, purchase history, etc.), marketers can deliver more relevant content to the different groups of people on their lists.
And by sending more relevant messages, segmented email lists help businesses create a more engaged audience.
The numbers prove it, too: Some marketers have reported as much as a 760% increase in revenue from segmented campaigns, according to Campaign Monitor, while a DMA report showed that segmented lists generate 58% of all email revenue.
So how does it work?
By collecting customer info up front (like name, gender, location, product interests, etc.) the business can then put this data to good use when it comes time to send a new campaign.
This data can be gleaned during the purchase process for an eCommerce site, via an opt-in form, or even from an on-site a call to action (for an eBook, guide, etc.).
Let’s look at this process in a bit more detail:
Segmentation happens two main ways
1. You can let subscribers self-segment by using different opt-in forms on different interest-based pages (like separate opt-ins for pages with information on email marketing vs. conversion studies).
2. You can collect subscriber information via a form and segment on the back end.
This route means you leverage the user data (gender, location, job title, age, etc.) to create different segments based on interests or target audiences, or even purchase history.
Both paths require the subscriber to share some personal information and make good use of a well-designed form.
Once you’ve created some segments, how do you put them to good use?
Say you own an online business, and you want to send out emails promoting new items and sales within the different departments of your store.
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.
Compare this Old Navy email promoting all kinds of different products:
See how they’re promoting all kinds of different products and have 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 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 about tips on how to maximize their email marketing?
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 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 or one-off sends, marketers can help ensure they’re sending the right message at the right time (without manually sending messages one by one.)
What’s more: New data shows that email marketing is the most widely used form of automation.
A whopping 82% of companies with automation tools use some form of email marketing automation technology.
And guess what?
Research from eMarketer shows that B2C marketers who leverage automation have seen conversion rates as high as 50%, while Epsilon Email Institute shows that automated emails have 70.5% higher open rates in comparison to “business as usual” messages.
So what do they look like in action?
Say you have a customer who has left items in his or her shopping cart.
You want that person to come back and check out, right?
Automation to the rescue.
You could set up an automated email for all customers who abandon their carts that says, “Hey, you still have items in your shopping cart!” that automatically sends out to any customer who has not checked out after seven days (like in the image below.)
If you added a small discount, you could further encourage those lost customers to come back and finish the checkout process.
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 modern 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:
Let’s break this down to see exactly how it works
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 the traveler just visited is clearly stated.
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.
If you need a boost, we’ve got resources that can help you across the board with email marketing.
Or, if you want to learn more about marketing automation, expand your knowledge base by learning some of the common pitfalls that keep some marketers from succeeding with automation.
Get out there and get started with your new strategy today!
And while you’re at it, hit like and share to help us spread the word.
When she’s not assisting wherever she can within our organization, you can find her eating pizza, solving sudoku puzzles and hanging out with her family.
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