3 Ways to Segment Email Subscribers to Boost Conversions

Email marketing has proven time and time again that it’s cheaper, more effective, and easier than other channels.

It blows social media out of the water and should be the primary goal of your paid campaigns. With email marketing, you’re supposed to be able to nurture leads and set them up for the sale.

You know this and I know this, the problem is that nurturing only works if you’re sending the right message at the right time.

According to Janrain, 74% of online consumers are frustrated by irrelevant online communication. Somewhere between knowing we’re supposed to be sending relevant messages and the actual execution, we drop the ball.

The emails you send fall short of your goals and all the articles, podcasts, and books promising you the world with email seem misleading.

There’s a better way.

It’s not that email doesn’t live up to the hype – it does. Let me ask you a question, would you try to sell a 1999 Toyota Camry the same way you’d sell the latest Tesla Roadster?

Of course not. You know the types of people willing to buy the cars are at different stages. They need different information. You divide them into different categories. When you start an online business, you need the identify your target audience.

The same philosophy holds true with email marketing. In the Lyris Annual Email Optimizer Report, respondents who successfully segmented their email subscribers reported lower optouts, increased open rates, and more relevance.


MailChimp did a global survey and found that click through rates for segmented lists were 42.64% higher than unsegmented lists. When you segment your list the right way, you reap all the benefits therein.

In this article, I’m going to show you three ways to segment your list to get the most out the traffic that decided to become an email subscriber.

Before we get into the three ways to segment below, I want you to think broadly about what criteria you can use to segment email subscribers.

  • Criteria you can use to segment email subscribers

Just as important as the act of segmentation is knowing which categories are important to your business. Here are a few suggestions to help you decide how you want to segment email subscribers:


There are no barriers to entry on the internet. Even children understand how to open an email account and sign up for things they find interesting. It’s important to know whether you’re emailing college students, senior citizens, or citizens in the prime of their life.

This will allow you to either:

  • Delete them from your list
  • Send them tailored messages

Either way, knowing the age range of your email subscribers is a definite plus.


This grouping isn’t here to propagate stereotypes, it’s a fact of business. Certain messages are more powerful when they target a specific gender. It wouldn’t do to refer to men on your email list as ladies or the ladies as fellas.

It’s happened to me many times and it always made me wonder if the products and services the company was offering were for me. Gender segmentation works well with other types of segmentation information like income or geographic location.

Geographic location

The Geographic location is often overlooked because we live in the age of the internet. You can get anything you want no matter where you are. Even so, using local cues in your messaging can have a powerful impact on your messages.

Even though you may be selling something that can be purchased anywhere, region specific or city specific offers and discounts are still effective.

Organization Type/ Industry

Every industry has its own needs and way of doing things. Customers in different industries refer to things differently and have their own methodologies and philosophies.

For example, when I wrote about the best web hosting companies, I was targeting offline businesses that want to start their websites. As it is with producing web hosting reviews, so it is with other topics/models. When you reflect that in your messaging, it becomes powerful and effective.

Conversely, you can think about the type of organization. Are they nonprofits, franchises, small businesses, Ecommerce stores or conglomerates? Each of them have different needs and goals.

Stage of Buyer Journey

This one is important. people at different stages in their journey to buying your products and services need different types of information.

At first, they don’t need to know your prices; they need to know about different solutions available. After that, they’re more interested in the service providers and pricing.

Finally, they’ll be open to the sales pitch. Knowing where your email subscribers are in their journey will make sure you don’t send an email sales pitch to a casual researcher. At the same time, it’ll allow you to send the right sales message at the right time.


When dealing with B2B customers, their revenue has a lot to do with how you speak to them and what messages you send. Typically a small business won’t be able to afford a white glove solution but they’ll be happy learning how to use a piece of software themselves.

Create different revenue ranges and map out the products that would be an ideal fit. Also think about the messages you’d send to get your subscriber on board.

These are just a few ways to segment your mailing list. There are dozens of ways to slice and dice your list to get the most out of it. Think about the information that’ll benefit your business the most and how you can create tailored information around those messages.

How to segment with op-tins

Opt-ins are the quickest way to segment your list. It’s the equivalent of someone raising their hands and saying, “this is what I want, give it to me.” The best types of subscribers to use for this aren’t your general sitewide opt-ins.

Those can only give you a limited amount of information because they have to appeal to the larger demographic of your website. Instead, post specific subscribers — also known as content upgrades — are perfect for list segmentation.

By its very nature, the content upgrade segments people into categories based on their interests.

Let’s say you cover many different topics on your website’s blog. With a post specific opt-in, you’ll be able to determine exactly what’s important to your subscriber.

In Qualaroo’s Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization, they offer a useful PDF of the guide.

qualaroo cro

People who download it tell Qualaroo two things, they’re serious about increasing their conversions and they’re in the beginning stages. They can then craft a relevant email marketing campaign to sell their software while delivering value.

Authority Hacker took the same approach when they created their post on Twitter hacks. They outlined a number of great tactics in the article then took it a step further by adding a content upgrade.

authority-hacker blog

This shows them their subscriber is engaged with Twitter and possibly other social media channels. They can send them more tips or relevant emails to solidify the relationship.

Opt-ins are the easiest way to segment your contacts, but it doesn’t always work out. Some opt-ins on your site don’t give you the information you need or don’t lend themselves to segmentation. For that, we have the welcome segmenter.

How to Segment with Welcome Emails

You can use the welcome segmenter to get important information that may not be possible to capture using a standard form. For example, you may not want to ask about revenue numbers on a form because it’ll reduce conversions.

You can easily ask this in the welcome email segmenter. Here’s an example how you can structure the initial funnel for your welcome segmenter email.

On this page about cognitive biases in marketing, there’s a opt-in that’ll allow readers to download an Ebook:

The problem with this optin is that it’s general. Anyone at any stage in their journey may want to learn more about psychology and how it affects us in the world.

For this optin to effective, there needs to be something afterwards that segments email subscribers.

After they download the Ebook and confirm their email address, they’re automatically sent a welcome email that delivers the ebook and asks them an important question. “where are you on your journey?”


Just getting started and I’m not making anything online

I have an online lifestyle business but I’m making less than 1,000 a month

I’ve gotten pretty good and I’m making more than $1,000 a month.

Each one of the links points to a different page where they can get more resources to get a quick win. After clicking, your email marketing software does the rest and sends them down an automation path of relevant messages.

You can ask anything relevant to your business in the welcome email. You can ask them about their favorite foods, you can ask them about their revenue, you can ask them about their position in the organization, or even their household size.

Keep in mind, you only have one welcome email so make sure the question you’re asking will give you enough information.

Identify three questions you can ask that’ll give you the most relevant information to segment your contacts into categories. These categories should be narrow enough to allow you to create targeted messages with the information.

When they’re already a subscriber and are browsing your website

This may be one of the most powerful ways to segment email subscribers. Someone has already expressed interest in the things you’re offering by subscribing to your mailing list. You’ve tried unsuccessfully to segment them, but it’s not the end of the world.

Since they’re a part of your mailing list, you can track their actions on your website. If they visit particular blog posts or product pages you can automatically add them to a relevant funnel and continue the conversion process. ClickMinded does this with their SEO training membership.

If a subscriber goes to their product pages or the page hosting their SEO tutorial videos they’ll be segmented into an automation that delivers more relevant information.


In their conversion funnel, they use case studies because the subscriber visiting a product page is further down the funnel than one who sticks to blog posts.

What pages on your website are ideal for segmenting contacts and moving them further down your funnel.

To start, identify three or four pages that serve as great contact points for starting a relevant email campaign to sell your products and services.


In this post, we’ve focused on leveraging the resources at your disposal to segment your contacts and create more compelling messages.

Choose one area to get started — I suggest optin offers — and as you get more comfortable with segmentation, you can implement deeper segmentation campaigns for your business. Let me know how you’re segmenting your contacts and any questions you have in the comments.

About the Author: Daniel Ndukwu is the founder of The Experiment where he works with business owners and entrepreneurs to grow their business by building engaged audiences. Download his free Ebook: The Tribe Builders Handbook to learn how to connect with your biggest fans.