6 strategies to segment your audience

6 strategies to segment your audience

Maybe you’re starting out and you don’t know where to begin with segmentation… (If you’re in that camp, take a read of this blog first: What is customer segmentation? And how to use it to increase CLV. It’ll get you clear on the basics of Segmentation.)

Maybe you’re a little further down the line and want to jazz up your segmentation.

Or perhaps you’re having an overhaul as your business aims change… 

Wherever you’re at with your marketing automation, It’s important not to get overwhelmed with segmentation. Never fear, you’re in the right place.  In this blog I will be suggesting various segmentation strategies for your list:

:dart: Beginner strategies

:dart: Intermediate strategies

:dart: Advanced strategies

If you’re in this for the long game, even if you’re just starting out, it’s good to see what strategies you might choose to take on when you’re a little further down the line with your ‘segmentation prowess’, so I think it’s important to see some variation! 

Before we start with the segmentation ideas, ask yourself - how can you better serve your audience? How can you provide a better experience? I suggest you jot down some ideas to get you in the segmentation zone! 

Would you would like to:

  • Understand your audience better?
  • Add more personalisation to your email marketing?
  • Show your customers what they’re looking for?
  • Show your customers things they might not even know they’re looking for?
  • Encourage consumption of your content, and send more content which you know they’d enjoy and/or find useful?
  • Have a highly engaged list?
  • Get better conversion rates?

Segmentation will help your business with each of those items.

Let’s explore the segmentation strategies!

One thing to bear in mind is that segmentation will be so bespoke to your business, so not all these ideas are likely to work for you, but perhaps some will stand out to you as something your audience (and your conversion rates) could benefit from.

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Segmentation Strategy 1: Segmenting by engagement

In your marketing automation system, it’s likely you can gather reporting on when the last time someone opened an email from you was. (In more advanced systems, this kind of thing can be automated likely by the addition and removal of tags and it’s very satisfying and useful!)

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

Take the example of segmenting your list by:

1.  Contacts who last opened an email from you more than 6 months ago (i.e. 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 two 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. 
  • 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 (e.g. with an offer, with great content) or 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 2 segments by engagement above is just 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.  

Another bonus strategy here is a pretty simple one - allow your audience to give their sending preferences - include a unique opt out at the bottom of your emails (rather than just the ‘opt out from all’ one wish will automatically be there. This gives people more control over their preferences, and you won’t bombard them with campaigns they won’t be interested in. 

Here’s a tangible example - you’re a yoga instructor who teaches yoga retreats too… 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’.

Segmentation Strategy 2: Segmenting by what they’re engaging with i.e. content interest

If your contact clicks on a piece of your content, and if that information is useful to you, you should be tagging that engagement. Simple. 

Campaigns could be triggered one the contact has engaged with a certain topic… say, 3+ times. Depending on your business, you might choose for that engagement to trigger one of these:

  • Sales campaigns (if you have great nurture in place and it makes sense to push for a sale at that point of engagement) 

  • Campaigns where you send that contact more in depth content on that topic 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, which in turn has the aim of getting more sales. 

Also, and this is pretty expert stuff, but if you have automation set up which tracks what people click on on your website - that might be content interest or sales intent, you could use that information to segment further, and possibly quicker - if someone clicks on a piece of content you share in your email, then goes to your website and devours three other pieces of content around the same content, I’d say will be pretty relevant for segmentation (and a boiling hot lead score!)

Segmentation Strategy 3: Segmenting by what they signed up for e.g. lead magnets

If you’re offering lead magnets, you’re already winning! 

We love lead magnets and you should too... I’d like to point you in the direction of two blogs of ours which go in depth on the whys and hows of lead magnets:  How to Create Strategic Lead Magnets that Perform Really Well  and The psychology behind high performing lead magnets .

By  offering lead magnets, you’re not only positioning yourself as the expert, but you’re gathering data. If you know that someone signed up for your lead magnet all about tips for ‘how to be a great grandma to a newborn’ (yes lead magnets can be really that specific!), then we can happily 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. Something suggesting some toys for the first six months… you get the jist! 

Offering lead magnets and failing to nurture and then sell to those leads further in your marketing automation is a no no.

Consider this third strategy a great segmentation task to start with if you’ve not yet got it in place.

Segmentation Strategy 4: Segmenting by their purchase history

This segmentation would look at what they purchased previously to see what products/services might supplement that purchase, or lead on from it. 

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. 

Let’s go! 

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? 

And here’s a really important one… don’t sell people the thing they’ve already purchased!

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 your contact’s demographics.

Back to my new grandmother/new mum analogy… An example of this could be having a version of email copy you’d send to grandparents vs what you’d send to new mothers.. adjusting the copy when speaking to those grandmas 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 to them becoming a customer/be a repeat purchaser. 

Think about whether personalisation like this would be useful for you. 

What distinct demographics would mean that your messaging could be tweaked? 

And think about how you could go about collecting this information from your list to give you the ability to demographically segment your audience. 

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

A beginner segmentation strategy would be to not send offers to new leads when they haven’t yet been nurtured.

It’s so important to nurture your list and you need to allow some breathing room for the nurture to take place. How long your nurture campaigns are  will depend on your unique business, but we recommend that businesses choose to either omit those who are still in nurture campaigns from any sales messaging, or to adapt the messaging so as to not hit too hard with the sales messaging. 

We like this segmented approach. 

Gently does it.

That’s the end of my strategies for segmentation. I hope you found some of them useful. There are a million ways to segment, you just need to make it appropriate for your business, your audience and also to not get overwhelmed by it!

If you’re going to be creating segmentation campaigns yourself, doing it bit by bit is a must. I’d love for you to join us in the Marketing Automation Academy where we have a whole vault of information, weekly training and event specific recordings showing you how to create these kind of segmentation campaigns in your marketing automation platform.

If you want to hand someone else the hard graft, (it might be faster, better and yield better results) then you might be interested in our MAD programme:

Marketing Automation Domination (MAD)

MAD is our flagship, 6-month programme, that has been handcrafted over years to help you design and implement your perfect customer journey. We support you with everything you need to attract, engage, sell to and wow your customers.

What is customer segmentation?