Segmenting for smarter sales

Email databases are at the core of a salesperson’s toolkit. Whether it’s at the top or bottom of the funnel, your database is going to be your touchstone for lead progression. But just having all that data isn’t the end of the process. A good salesperson will make that data work for them, and the easiest way to do this is through Email Segmentation.

So what is email segmentation? Put simply, it’s dividing your email lists into useful categories. A first time browser is going to require different attention than someone who’s purchased before. Similarly, a lone purchaser from the west coast is materially different to a corporate buyer in Europe. So segment, break up that monolith of a database, and start working intelligently with your data. Below, we’ve included a few ways you can get started.

Personal profile

This is your first port of call for any segmentation you might be thinking of. Who the consumer is as a person will fundamentally affect your future relationship with them, and your communications should reflect this. This includes things like their age, gender identity, income bracket, and even who they *feel* they are. If someone sees themselves as a connoisseur of your products, and you talk to them in the same way as you talk to pure utility purchasers, you’re going to create dissonance. As a salesperson, it’s your job to minimize this, and ensure that the customer feels like a welcome and unique part of the sales process. Similarly, you want to ensure that your communications are relevant. So make sure your database takes note of the following factors:

1. Location

This might seem like a straightforward element, but geo-targeting your product is pivotal. If someone lives in Kentucky and starts hearing about your offers in London, they’re quickly going to tune you out. This can be a permanent setback in the purchaser process, so precisely identifying your customer’s location is a key step in keeping your contact relevant!

2. Age Bracket

Different age demographics have different wants, needs, and communication etiquette. You need to talk to someone as their peer, or at least as an interested party. Tone is informed by social context, so don’t waste your resources trying to develop a “generic” one. Be smart, target well, and talk to your audience.

3. Gender identity

This one might seem less and less relevant by the day, but it’s still worth keeping in mind if you have gender-based offerings. The golden rule is to make sure your customer can and will care. Nothing turns someone away faster than a product self-identifying as being for “somebody else”. Avoid this, and use gender details to tweak your segmentation.

4. Physical and digital

Is your customer a regular patron of your brick-and-mortar chain? Or are they more inclined towards web-purchases? These two different markets, though they might seem so close together, deserve alternative treatment. So make sure to contact your physical customers with in-store discounts and offers, while guiding your web customers towards your online shopping features.

5. Level of education

Education is a good shorthand for a person’s future goals. If your product targets someone of a particular academic standing, or relies on educational context, then target appropriately. This is just one of the many ways you can add nuance to your segmentation, and add personality to your emails.

6. Email tone

You can learn a lot from an email address, so make sure to factor that in. In addition, certain addresses (like Gmail) let you know that you can expect dynamic scaling and other features.

7. Happiness and Satisfaction

There are lots of ways to gauge user satisfaction, and you should take your favoured method into account in your emails. If a customer is dissatisfied, for example, it might be best to try reconciliation before bombarding them with review requests. So be aware of your customers mood, and use it to your advantage when getting in touch.

Corporate profile

When engaging with business employees, and especially when it’s a business-to-business lead, knowing the who and what of their corporate identity is crucial. Corporate buyers can be diverse even within the same industry. Your communications need to react to their specific ethos and needs. Here, we’ve outlined a few ways to ensure that your interactions are as targeted as possible.

1. Industry

Industries can be broad categories, but they can still help you add a personal touch to your emails. It can also help you appear well-informed and professional, both desirable characteristics for any salesperson.

2. Organisation character

Knowing your customer will never be as relevant as it is here. Firms try hard to differentiate themselves from their peers, especially in narrow industries. How they view their mission is going to affect how they view your product. So take the time to scope out their operations, and be on the look-out for defining features like franchising or product-delivery models. You want to be relevant, and that starts with being informed.

3. Role and function

Once you have segmented the firm, you need to segment its staff. Requirements will vary across staff level, not to mention purview. Sending an accounting software proposal to sales won’t fly, and is a quick way bump yourself down the list of priorities. Good segmentation will avoid this, and keep your emails interesting and pertinent.

4. Seniority

Now that you know the department, who do you talk to? Will a manager be interested in what you provide? Or will it require a director looking over the proposal? Ask yourself these questions before you make contact. This can help you avoid time-consuming, and frustrating, redirection.

Buyer Profile

Now that the who and who from are out of the way, it’s time to get granular. How a person makes their purchases is a key indicator for your segmentation. You should be aiming to build a character before you start emailing, so that your messages are an enticing as possible. Some important factors include:

1. Purchase history

Your relationship with a customer should evolve. If someone has bought from you before, act on that information. This helps make your contacts both personal and dynamic. Your goal is to bring them into your product ecosystem, and that won’t happen if you send them superficial contacts every time. So be smart, and use their past purchases to offer them products they didn’t know they wanted.

2. Future interests

Sometimes a customer might not be at the buying stage, or might be developing their purchase plan. This shouldn’t be a reason to drop contact. Ask them what they want, or what they are going to want. This way they feel valued, and you are bringing in valuable information for that future purchase.

3. Frequency of purchase

A loyalty program is a big draw for many customers, and should be at the top of your priorities. Integrate this into your segmentation, and make sure that you treat repeat customers properly. Let them know that they matter, and you’ll create a memorable, and more attractive, purchasing experience.

4. Purchase calendar

Your communications need to be aware of trends. If someone buys the same thing at the same time every year, you should know. This lets you plan ahead, and make your sales emails more effective. If you know someone has a busy season, make sure to target them during that time with the products they need.

5. Cycle stage

Don’t forget to interface all of this excellent profile data with your existing sales structure. A key feature of any buyer identity is where they sit on your engagement timeline, so make sure to segment accordingly.

6. Referral tendencies

If you notice business coming your way from a specific customer, then it might be worth targeting them a little differently. Loyalty programs, discounts, and more can all help to cement a potential ambassador for your product.

7. Reviewing

A smart way to build your brand is to segment according to a number of harmonious factors. If you know a customer has a high happiness score, and social media presence, then it might be worth edging them towards reviewing your product. This is a dedicated outreach process, and not something you can achieve passively. So keep that in mind when drawing up your segmentation criteria.

8. Experience and progress

A simple fact of any buying platform is that some users are going to be more proficient than others. You will have some customers who know just how your system ticks, and will make use of it to its fullest. Then you have some less able customers, who perhaps struggle with the finer points of your offering. Make sure to target the latter with some guidance, to help build a more welcoming and dynamic buyer experience.

9. Product interaction

If you have an ongoing basis product, such as an event or booking system, make sure to respond to customers progress. If someone doesn’t attend after confirming, or doesn’t engage with a topic, make sure to reach out so you can fine tune their experience. This will keep you on their radar, and help engage them going forward.

Interests and preferences

A lot of what we’ve included here is geared towards more traditional industries. That’s not to say that it can’t apply to your web-business, but you may want to fine tune it a bit. For that reason, we’ve included some more digital segmentation options below.

1. Content interests

If you are a content creator, then topics are often your product. So make sure at the outset to start identifying what you customers want to read. This is not only going to tie into what you produce, but will heavily influence how you should update people. It should go without saying that if this behaviour changes, then you should update your contacts accordingly.

2. Formatting

How you present your content will often influence uptake. So keep an eye on your readership by format, whether it be blogs or listicles, and email accordingly. This kind of targeting will keep your updates fresh and well-read, and stop readers from drifting.

3. Engagement

With formats such as video, conversion might not be as useful as engagement time. So if someone only watches the first few minutes of a video, you should distinguish them from full viewers in terms of follow up. Rather than progressing them down the funnel, it might be worth introducing them to the content again, and gauging engagement.

4. Abandonment response

If you run an online business, chances are that you will have customers who load up their digital shopping cart, before deciding against the purchase. It’s key that you have a response behaviour to this, and a process for bringing customers back down the funnel. The same goes for forms, surveys, and any other kind of web interaction.

5. Call to action

Any good sales person will already have tangled with CTAs before. What you may not have done is to reflect your successful engagements with your outreach. If a customer responds well to certain types of language, then mirror that in the contacts you make. Not only are you creating a consistent semantic experience, but you’re capitalising on information you already have. That’s the key to successful segmentation!


The above are just a few ways you can segment, and we’re sure you’ll find some clever ways to make your email list work for you. Just remember the cardinal rule of segmentation: different customers should be approached differently. Take information you know to tailor your contacts, and you email effectiveness will rise accordingly.