6 strategies to segment your audience

6 strategies to segment your audience

Author: Lucy Barfoot

Marketing Automation whizz and creative entrepreneur. I love analysing what visually works (and what doesn't) in the marketing industry and helping people to devise marketing campaigns from a creative angle.

Each business *should* have a defined customer journey. And, at each part of the journey, your lead or customer will be at different levels of awareness. That means that they need different kinds of messaging at the varying stages of their journey. 

How do you know when to send the correct messaging? When is the right time? What about the varying types of messaging for the different levels of awareness?

Customer segmentation is the answer that you are looking for to all of those questions.

 (If you’re new to the customer segmentation world, take a peek at this blog to get you up to speed).

Segmenting your audience not only provides them with a better experience, it allows you to:

  • Understand them better

  • Add more personalisation to your email marketing

  • Guide your customers to make clever buying decisions

  • Encourage consumption of your content

  • Build a highly engaged list

  • Up your conversion rates

In this blog, you’re going to be presented with 6 strategies to segment your audience that will help you to hit the nail on the head with all of the aforementioned bullet points. 

(It is important to remember that businesses are as diverse as the people who create them. And so, not all of the strategies here will be applicable to you. Pick what you need and leave the rest for another day).

With those kinds of benefits on the table, there is no time to waste! Let’s jump in.

Audience Segmentation Strategy 1: Segmenting by engagement

Within your marketing automation system, you will be able to see when the last time one of your contacts (i,e leads or customers) have opened an email from you.

This kind of data is golden and allows you to be able to behaviourally segment your audience.

For example, you could segment your list by:

1. Contacts who last opened an email from you more than 6 months ago (ie. likely to be unengaged but still marketable)

2. Contacts who last opened an email from you less than  6 months (more likely to be engaged).

Here are three tactics for segmenting in this way:

  • You may want to send less emails to the unengaged people. Some might say ‘if they ain’t engaged, don’t bombard them’.  You could send them the big messaging, but not everything in between. Less emails to these people may encourage less email overwhelm and more engagement. Think of it like dating, absence makes the heart grow fonder!

  • You may want to send those people an extra special email series with super subject lines to get those emails clicked and hopefully, read. The contents inside that email series should reward them (eg. with an offer or great content).

  •  Lastly, you could get really truthful with them and give them an opportunity to opt out and stop bloating your list!

Which of these tactics you go for will completely depend on your business. Remember - segmenting is not one size fits all! 

The example of just three segments by engagement above is very basic.  You could get way more granular with it if segmenting by engagement would be useful and important for your business and ultimately your bottom line.  

Bonus engagement strategy: Allow your audience to give their preferences. Include a unique opt out at the bottom of your emails which allows them to state their preferences for comms from you at any time.

(This is separate from the regular opt out button that will be there by default). This gives people more control over their preferences and it means that you won’t bombard them with campaigns that they won't be interested in.

Example: Let’s imagine that you’re a yoga instructor who teaches yoga retreats. You could add one of these specific opt outs into your mailings which are specifically about retreats -  ‘just click here if you don’t want to receive information on my retreats, but still want to stay on my mailing list to receive my weekly yoga tips’.

Audience Segmentation Strategy 2: Content 

Let’s say that your website has some strategically placed lead magnets all over it.

If one of your contacts clicked on a particular lead magnet, that information would be useful to you. It gives you more of an insight of their level of awareness and where they currently stand within their buying journey. This is an example of engagement that you should be tagging.

Related content: E-Commerce Tagging

You could choose for a campaign to be triggered once a contact has engaged with a certain topic three times or more. Depending on your business and your goals, you might choose for that engagement to trigger:

  • Sales campaigns - If you are going to be triggering a sales campaign after they have engaged with your content, be sure that you have nurtured them enough that pushing for a sale at that point will work in your favour. You run the risk of losing a sale and prospect all together if you send sales messaging too early! 

  • A campaign where you begin to send that contact more in depth content on the topic that they have shown their interest in.

We love this second idea - sending deeper, more niche information will really serve that contact, and remember - segmentation is how we can provide a better experience to our contacts. 

If you want to dive a little deeper with your segmentation efforts, setting up your automation to show you what it is that people click on on your website is the perfect next step. If a lead is showing interest in content or displaying sales intent, you can use that information to segment further and possibly quicker.

If someone clicks on a piece of content that you share in your email, then goes to your website and devours another three pieces of content around the same topic, they would be a top candidate for segmentation and a boiling hot lead score!

Audience Segmentation Strategy 3: Lead Magnets

We love lead magnets here at the Automation Ninjas. And for good reason!

Lead magnets help you to nurture your relationships with your leads, increase engagement and conversion rates, showcase value, generate leads and build a strong email list.

If you’re not already offering lead magnets to your customers, I’d like to point you in the direction of two blogs of ours that go in depth on the whys and hows of lead magnets:

How to Optimise Your Current Lead Magnets  and The Psychology Behind High Performing Lead Magnets .

By offering lead magnets, you’re not only positioning yourself as the expert,  you’re also gathering data.

If someone signed up to your lead magnet titled ‘How to be a great grandma to a newborn’, (Yes, lead magnets can be that specific!) we can assume that in around 6-9 months time, that lead might be applicable to receive some sales messaging around great gifts to give to a postpartum mother or something about toys that are great for a newborn.. You get the jist!

Lead magnets provide you with the perfect opportunity to nurture your leads as they very clearly indicate to you what their interests are. From their interest you can segment them into the right categories to make sure that you continue that nurture through the means of your marketing automation all the way to the point of sale.

Audience Segmentation Strategy 4: Purchase History

This segmentation strategy focuses on segmenting your leads by their purchase history. 

Let’s take the example of an eCommerce business which sells workout leggings. 

It’s possible to segment by what item/s the customer bought previously. I’ve thought of some  examples for this to show ways you could make it happen. Here are some segmenting ideas, along with ideas for how you could engage that customer more by giving them useful content which positions you as the expert, and then ideas for what your selling campaign could offer.

What to segment by?

Customer has already made what purchase?

What’s the strategy behind this segmentation?

How you could engage more

How you could sell more

Material composition

Purchased a sweat wicking product

Everyone into fitness needs more than 1 pair of workout leggings, they need leggings with performance properties

Share gym-legging care, washing strategies, how to store, review and compare leggings from other brands

Show them your range of  high-performance sweat-wicking leggings


Purchased a pink pair of leggings

They like plain workout gear

Share fitness tips, videos of routines, more gym-content

Showcase how their plain pink leggings + a patterned other garment or a plain purple top could work well


Purchased a jazzy patterned legging (rather than plain)

They love jazzy leggings, show them more

Styling tips, share style icons, other stores which have great patterned garments!

Showcase how patterned leggings + a plain other item from your shop could work together

So, for an ecommerce business, (depending on your marketing automation systems) there is a lot of segmenting possible based on previous purchases - are they in the plain leggings camp, or are they in the patterned leggings camp?  How much did they spend with you - is it appropriate to push them to spend a little more on their next purchase? 

A Ninja top tip:  Don’t try to sell your customers the product they’ve already purchased! Personalisation in your messaging is vital. If you’re trying to sell your customers things in emails that they’ve already purchased, they will know that your communication is general instead of personalised. When this happens, the likelihood of your emails going straight into the trash is pretty high.

Segmentation Strategy 5: Segmenting by demographics

It might work for your business to adjust the copy, messaging and tone in your email marketing to suit the demographic of your target audience.

To bring you back to the new grandmother / new mum analogy, another example of this could be having a version of email copy that you would send to grandparents and separate copy that you would send to expecting mums.

Adjusting the copy when speaking to different demographics could have a significantly positive impact on their relationship with your brand and how much they engage with your messaging. Which in turn, may lead them to becoming loyal customer.

This kind of personalisation isn’t for everyone. So, it’s worth spending the time thinking about whether it would be useful for you before employing this strategy.

If you do choose to go ahead and use this strategy, what distinct demographics could you tweak your copy for? Think about who you’re speaking to.

And, think about how you want to go about collecting this information from your list to give you the ability to further segment them based on their demographic.

Can you work it out from their lead source? Do your lead magnet sign up forms ask for any demographic information? Could you send a survey, or even ask them to segment themselves in your email marketing?

Segmentation Strategy 6: Segmenting by where they’re at in the customer journey

Choosing to segment your leads by where they are in their customer journey seems like a very basic segmentation skill. It may be one that you use already! Whatever the case, this basic segmentation strategy works like a charm.

If your customer is moving through their customer journey and they are still in the problem aware or solution aware stage of awareness, having them segmented with people who are at a different stage of awareness will cause you some problems.

The messaging needed for someone who is further along their customer journey and therefore, with a higher level of awareness looks very different from someone who has just begun. The former may be ready for messaging around sales. That same messaging could scare the latter away if they were segmented together.

The bottom line is, they need different things and it is up to you to make sure that they receive it.

We like this segmented approach. 

Gently does it.

Which segmentation strategy will you choose?

How you choose to segment your customers can have a massive impact on your business. Strategically made and targeted campaigns bring in 77% of marketing ROI.  So, you’re aware that if you’re looking for success, it’s probably in your segmentation.

Not only does it help you bring home the bacon, it also provides a better customer experience. 

The way that you segment can be the difference between your leads trusting you and seeing you as a reputable source that cares about them and their money or a company that doesn’t care to know anything about them or their problems at all.

There are a million different ways to segment, you just need to find out what is appropriate for you and your business.

With this blog, you have six different strategies that you can choose from to make sure that you’re segmenting just like a Ninja.

From segmenting by their place in their customer journey, demographic, purchase history, choice of lead magnet, content or their level of engagement; this blog will help you to hit the ground running.

Keep it to hand and come back to it when you need to, we’re not planning on going anywhere!

If you’re going to be creating segmentation campaigns yourself, doing it bit by bit is a must.

If you want to hand someone else the dirty work, (it might be faster, better and yield better results) then you might be interested in having a conversation with the Ninjas. Book in below:

What is customer segmentation?