How to segment your email lists and turn them into gold!

We all know how to segment our email lists; all the good marketing blogs out there tell us to sort by geography, age, gender, job title, responsibility, turn over etc, which is great if you have that information, and you can target your products or service in that way. But what about the hundreds of marketing databases out there that have been created over time through signing up to a newsletter, or have been captured at an event that don’t have these gems of data to segment by?

      Ignore them? But it might include the game changer customer, you just don’t know it…. 

      Send them every email? You don’t want to spam them and risk losing them….

You want to send them relevant communications based on their needs and stage in the buying cycle, but how do you know where to start?

We come across this problem quite a lot with our clients. One recently bemoaned:
“We have an opted in email database that we email regularly with good open and click through rates and several responses but no actual sales!”

They spent a lot of time on what would be considered ‘tyre kickers’ quite literally, the client in question restores classic Jaguars.  People read, click and engage because they are interested in the latest renovation, tinker with old cars or are looking for advice and tips from professionals. 

Our client would spend hours on the phone to people who called, hoping that it would be the enquiry for their next big restoration project, only to realise twenty minutes in after a good chat and bit of knowledge sharing, they would hang up with a simple thanks, never to be seen again!

Sorting the valuable from the worthless

Only you can profile your clients – a good place to start is to look at your best customer attributes and match them – more in our blog 'how to profile your customers'.

For our client, we identified 3 types of profiles that were in their database:

  • Customer Profile 1: Information Gatherers
    These people might want to learn how to do something technical, or get advice on classic cars. They may already own a classic Jaguar and want know-how advice, or just be interested in classic Jaguars. They are not necessarily a buyer. They need to be made aware that our client is an industry expert.
  • Customer Profile 2: Owners/Potential Owners
    These people want to buy something, whether a restoration service or a car. They know what they want and have money to spend. They need to be convinced that our client is the best company to spend money with.
  • Customer Profile 3: Need Convincing
    These people are looking to buy a classic car. They are at the due diligence stage, information gathering, emotion-fueled. They need to be convinced that they want to buy a classic Jaguar.

We created a nurture campaign with a trigger email pointing to three different pieces of content, each piece was designed to segment the database into one of the three profiles depending on how the receiver interacted with the content.  We then tailored the automated nurture stream at the right level, generating and sending content designed for them.

Every time anyone opts in to the client’s database or signs up to the client’s newsletter, they automatically receive the trigger email for this nurture campaign.  How they interact with that initial email demonstrates their intent. We nurture them at their pace, not when the client is ready to send another email blast.

Hit the jackpot

The campaign has been a success. Apart from our client getting their sanity back, they can now determine:

  • how long potential customers and existing customers spend on their website
  • what content is of interest to potential customers and existing customers

This information enables our client to actively engage with both new and existing customers at the right time and have relevant conversations that meet their customer needs. Our clients time is now spent speaking to people that are suitably engaged AND more importantly have the budget and intent to spend money restoring a classic car.

Don’t let the fact that you just have an email address put you off. Think creatively and write content with purpose - do you want your audience to learn something or do something?  Remember this isn’t an overnight win, but investing in your data can create ‘carat gold’ opportunities for your business.


The system we refer to is SharpSpring, however other marketing automation platforms are available such as HubSpot, Marketo and Pardot to name but a few.