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3 Reasons You MUST Segment Your Email Marketing Contact List

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You’ve probably heard by now that email marketing is dead.

You’ve probably read enough articles or heard enough testimonials to know that marketers and business owners don’t want to use email marketing for fear of failure.

But what you probably don’t realize is that it’s not email’s fault.

Here’s the thing: we still read our emails. Whether it’s a work email, an email newsletter we’ve subscribed to, or an unknown email with an interesting or unusual subject line … point is, we read our emails. Maybe not all of them, but we do.

So how can email marketing be dead?

Email Marketing: The Truth

It’s not about the medium.

It’s about the message.

So many email marketing campaigns fail because they send the wrong message to the wrong people. Marketers will typically create an email, generalize the content, send it out to the 5,000 people they have on their contact list… and then wonder why this approach isn’t working.

In a world of people who hate being sold to, that mass-produced email is just like a random ad on a billboard or a commercial on TV.

Why should they care about what you have to say?

Email Segmentation: Achieving Personalization

Email Segmentation is the act of creating groups for your email contact list based on different factors. For instance:

  • Their marketing needs
  • Their position on the sales cycle
  • Their age
  • Where you met them

By segmenting your email contact list and then creating an email specifically for each segment, you are able to connect more intimately with the people on the receiving end.

Here are three reasons why that’s important

Different People, Different Sales Cycle Stages

Let’s be real; as a marketer and/or business owner, you’re probably familiar with the Sales Cycle by now. But in case you’re not …

The Sales Cycle is generally a salesperson or business’s follow-up plan to close new customers. It’s what they do after they meet a potential consumer to turn that “potential” into a “confirmed.”

It’s got five distinct stages:

  • Prospect
  • Connect
  • Research
  • Present
  • Close

Different stages require different approaches and different pieces of information. How you communicate with someone in the Connect phase is not the same way you’d communicate with them during the Research or Close phase.

In other words, you cannot mass-send the same email and expect positive responses all around.

Here’s a general description of the typical client in each phase. This is not meant to stereotype them-rather, it’s to give you an idea of how different each client will be.

  • Prospect-client fits your buyer persona, is generally interested, but doesn’t know you. Couldn’t care less about you, actually.
  • Connect-client now knows you but is not a sure yes. Has heard what you have to say, but is still 50/50.
  • Research-client responded positively during the Connect phase. Now wants to know more.
  • Present-client is amenable/responsive/excited for a sales pitch. This is where you really want to pull out all stops.
  • Close-at this point, the client is back to 50/50. The ball is entirely in their court.
  • So!

How does this all fit in with email segmentation?

Let’s say you’re a digital marketing agency blasting out a promotion email for first-time clients: 50% off their first SEO Marketing package. If this is their first time signing on with you or purchasing your SEO Marketing package, they only have to pay half the price.

This would work really well for people in the Research, Present, and Close phases, as this offer might be just the thing they need to make them say “yes!”

However, if you send this to contacts in the Prospect or Connect phase? They don’t know you, they’re not a hundred percent sold on you, and-frankly? You’re not their only option. What’ll happen when they receive this?

They’ll send it straight to Trash.

And wait; there’s more.

What if you send this email to long-term clients of yours or people who just bought your SEO Marketing bundle last month? The former will wonder why you’re bothering to tell them this and the latter will regret the fact that they signed on so early.

Yikes, right?

Different People, Different Sizes

The fashion industry sneers at brands and clothes that proclaim they are “one-size-fits-all” because we all know that simply isn’t possible-much less true.

In a generation that is especially touchy about topics like body size, body weight, and body shape, generalization is dangerous ground. Brands that proclaim their clothes fit the “average” person can expect backlash from the masses, asking them who gave them the right to define what the “average” person looks like.

Touchy topic indeed.

The marketing world should exercise the same kind of caution brands do when it comes to generalizing. It’s fine to a certain degree, but it’s just not as effective-or consumer-friendly-as personalization.

Let’s go back to the Sales Cycle. We’ve already explained why a generalized email to people categorized into five different phases wouldn’t be as well-received as you’d expect. Translate those five different sales cycle phases into something more personal or career-based (again; pretend you’re a digital marketing agency). For example:

  • New small business owners
  • Veteran business owners
  • Transitioning from “small” to “medium-sized” business owners
  • Veteran business owners new to digital marketing
  • Veteran business owners who have had previously horrible experiences with digital marketing

Just by looking at the (really wordy) category titles, it’s already fairly obvious that you cannot appeal to all five groups with the same, “Hey, we’re a digital marketing agency! We can help you!” message.

  • Group A will not see you as their only option.
  • Group B will compare you to the multiple other digital marketing agencies that have reached out to them.
  • Group C might give you a chance, but they also might already work with a digital marketing agency that they really like.
  • Group D is the one most likely to listen to you.
  • Group E will want more reassurance from you.
  • Point being, there is no one-size-fits-all solution: this is a fact. You cannot throw the same message at different people and expect a resoundingly positive response.

By segmenting your email contact list, you can create customized messages for people based on their similar (not same) needs. This level of personalization, despite still being aimed at a group, will still elicit a better response than anything generalized or mass-produced.

Personalized Emails Promote a Positive Reputation

By writing different messages based on your email contact list segments, you are able to create a fairly personalized message that has a better chance of resonating with multiple groups of people. Through personalization, you are able to establish a positive connection with your audience. With that being said, it is shocking to hear that reports show that only 5% of companies personalize on a larger scale.

A personalized message is naturally more engaging for the people it’s targeting. Over time, your contacts will start to look forward to your emails because of how much they agree with-or look forward to-the content.

Let’s bring back the examples.

If you create emails for Group A (new business owners) that are full of helpful business tips and expert advice for fresh startups, they’ll happily consume the content.

But if you send the same email to Group B (veteran business owners), they’ll most likely roll their eyes and mark it as spam.

But if you create a completely new email for Group B, one that contains the latest updates and trends in entrepreneurship, or even fun, lighthearted articles like ‘7 Myths Business Owners Know Aren’t True’, the response from that particular group of people will be far more positive.

In doing so, you’ll establish yourself as a reputable and engaging sender who takes the time to personalize the emails you send out.

How could anyone be mad at that?

All in all, the people who say email marketing is dead are the ones who don’t segment their email contact list. If you just take the time to break down your 5,000 or so contacts and categorize them, the results of your next email marketing campaign will be nothing short of incredible. If you don’t have the time or resources, get a professional to help you. You’ll still experience a dramatic return on investment regardless.


Antonio Chau is the Founder and CEO of Leads Ngin-an online Digital Marketing Company that strives to create customized solutions and deliver guaranteed leads, every time. His focus and dedication to the client’s message is what helps him stand out in an oversaturated market.

Even before he founded Leads Ngin, Antonio has always been passionate about providing better service and quality marketing products to the masses. Through hard work, dedication, and a genuine desire to help people spread their message, his vision of a top-quality, client-centered marketing company has become a reality.