How to segment your email database

As brands start to embrace inbound marketing programs, one of the biggest challenges many face is dealing with an email database which is not properly set up. One of the fundamental principles of inbound marketing is varying your messaging depending on who you’re speaking to. This increases the likelihood of your emails getting opened and of getting click-throughs to your content. The ability to vary messaging depends on segmenting the database.

However, brands typically build their databases with contacts obtained through referrals, email lists, trade show leads and their website. These contacts aren’t usually segmented, making it difficult to meet highly focused marketing objectives with your content. If you have an email database that is not segmented, it’s time to whip it into shape.

There are many ways to slice and dice your email list based on your marketing objectives, including how each contact became a lead, where they are located, organization type, etc. While there are numerous ways to segment these lists, you want to make sure you do what provides the most value to your business.

There are two ways to segment that will accomplish this objective.

The first is to segment by buyer persona. A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of an ideal customer based on data and market research.  Most businesses will want between 2 and 5 personas to represent the range of their customer types. The buyer personas should reflect your customers’ demographics, motivation, how they behave and what their goals are.

If you’ve never created a buyer persona, contact us to learn more about how they are created and how they can work for you.

Segmenting your list through buyer personas enables you to reach customers with content that is highly relevant for them. For example, let’s say you have one persona that represents security system end- users who are in the IT industry and another for integrators. It’s safe to say they each have unique needs and won’t be interested in the same content. While corporate liability based on cybersecurity risk would be of great interest for the end-user, recurring monthly revenue and ease of installation would be much more relevant topics to an integrator.

Based on which emails they open, content they click on or even social shares, you can then discover insights to further refine those personas. Buyer personas not only determine what content you send, but how you can most successfully engage with them.

Segmenting your database by buyer persona also gives you the ability to create customized landing pages. This helps qualify leads for the sales team by giving prospects an opportunity to further segment themselves based on their willingness to buy. For instance, you might ask when they anticipate buying their next security camera or the size of their company. Qualifying your leads on an ongoing basis is crucial to getting an inbound program to work for you.

The second way to segment your database to provide maximum value to your marketing program is by creating a buyer’s journey segment. You can divide your buyer’s journey into three stages: awareness, consideration and decision. Awareness means your prospect is aware that a problem exists, consideration means they are looking at solutions to that problem and decision means they’re deciding on which solution meets those needs.

The content for each stage will vary greatly. For instance, you might send a lead in the awareness stage a whitepaper about problems facing the industry while those in the consideration stage would be offered a how-to guide. Having the right content hit your prospects at the right time is an important step in converting them to customers.

Your well-established leads who are ready to purchase don’t need a blanket email that explains who you are. They already know that. Instead, a vendor comparison would be much more helpful in this situation.

This may all sound good in theory, but segmentation can seem overwhelming if you already have a database with tens of thousands of contacts. Here’s how to solve that problem.

First, come up with an awareness stage offer such as a webinar or whitepaper to send to your entire list.   Second, create a landing page designed to help click-throughs self-identify which persona they are. A few examples of fields to include would be job role, business objectives or industry. With this information, you can begin to provide content that speaks to their needs.

This process also shows you which contacts aren’t engaging. This is important as you’ll want to unsubscribe those who never open your emails. It’s more important to have a list that’s highly engaged than to have one that’s big, but never reads your content.

Email database segmentation is a must for any company looking to implement a successful inbound marketing program. It allows you to better target your messaging – and to attract more prospects through your email marketing.

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About the Author: Adam Miller

Adam Miller

Adam is the Social Media Manager at LRG Marketing Communications.