Just like every other business in the market today, yours must also cater its products and services to different ideal customers. If there is no one-size-fits-all customer for your business, why should there be a one-size-fits-all marketing approach?
While the B2B marketing world has caught on to the fact that the humble email is still the number one source of ROI (despite the emergence of tactics like social media), businesses lag in proper communication.
For instance – a SaaS company’s software may find its market in not just other mid-sized SaaS companies but also those in the healthcare, education, finance, and telecommunications sectors. Would a generic message resonate with stakeholders of all industries?
Moreover, the message must be tailored to meet the needs of different decision-makers – CTOs, Directors, CFOs, HR, etc. Since 2020, there’s been a continual shift from ‘leads’ to ‘revenue,’ and nearly 94% of B2B businesses have chosen to target a specific set of accounts with personalized content.
The numbers show that the best time to hop onto the B2B email segmentation bandwagon was the wake of 2020. The next best time is now! Keep reading as this guide walks you through what email marketing segmentation is, best practices, and effective strategies.
What is Email Segmentation?
Email segmentation is the process of categorizing email subscribers based on a specific set of criteria. This is a major way to ensure all audiences do not receive the same content or generic message.
The criteria could be as simple as audience demographics and geographical location or more complex as purchase history, company’s technographics, and more. The main purpose of B2B email segmentation is to deliver relevant and personalized content based on the lead’s qualifications.
Email segmentation fits the ‘BANT’ framework, in which the marketer tailors the message based on the recipient’s Budget, Authority, Need, and Timing for the need. Naturally, this practice carries several benefits, such as –
- Greater audience engagement because the message is timely and relevant.
- It helps optimize email frequency for the more engaged and least engaged groups.
- This practice improves the chances of driving particular segments down the sales funnel faster.
- Email marketing segmentation helps drive more revenue from the targeted accounts.
- It reduces unsubscribing and bounce rates.
- There are higher chances of repeat business.
Email Segmentation Strategies: What are Successful Brands Choosing?
1. Geographical Location
This segmentation strategy or criterion will work best for businesses catering to a specific location. You can further segment based on the country, state, city, town, county, or zip code.
This strategy can be utilized in the following ways –
- Delivering messages based on the recipient’s time zone. This ensures they are most receptive to your message.
- Creating adverts in the audience’s local language.
- Sending out invites for local events or trade shows.
2. Audience Demographics
Audience demographics are generally the very first thing brands use for B2B email segmentation. While this segmentation criterion generally includes the age, gender, etc., of the individual, the B2B context is more complex.
In the B2B world, demographic segmentation would include the job title or the position someone holds in a company. The aim is to reach out to key decision-makers or influencers of the organization. These may include the CEO, CIO, CTO, HR Manager, etc.
Though important, gathering such data can be challenging, mainly when identifying the key decision-makers in each case. You can always seek the help of a trusted growth enablement partner for a contact directory of businesses and their key decision-makers that may be suitable leads.
3. Past Purchases
Another easy way brands use email marketing segmentation for their audience includes previous purchases. This segmentation strategy works mainly for existing customers to drive repeat business.
Suppose you are a B2B SaaS company and a client previously purchased a subscription. If you launch an upgrade or complementary services for that software to improve client growth, send out email recommendations.
Alternatively, this tactic can also remind customers of subscription renewal.
4. Lead Position in the Sales Funnel
This segmentation criterion is another important determiner that brands use. It is effective because it narrows down prospects to specific qualifying groups.
For instance – if a lead is currently in their awareness stage, just getting to know their pain points, it is counterintuitive to send them business and product details. Such leads can be targeted using informative content in short form – infographics, blogs, etc., via email newsletters.
Similarly, leads further down the sales funnel can be targeted with emails that redirect to in-depth industry reports, case studies, customer testimonials, etc. When the messaging becomes relevant, it improves the chances of conversion.
5. Website Behavior
Tracking a visitor’s website activity can also enable you to send personalized emails for nurturing and conversion. For instance – it is possible to gather behavioral data through landing pages visited, time spent on each page, etc.
This gives you an idea of the visitor’s pain points and areas of interest. For instance – if a visitor spends decent time exploring your software’s landing page, you can target them with emails introducing the benefits, a demo video, and more.
In the B2B world (especially for businesses involved in the tech space), the clientele’s technographics form a key segmentation criterion.
This information includes the company’s annual tech spending, tech budget for the previous year, tech usage patterns, etc. Such details enable a brand to send emails based on the lead’s needs and budget.
How to Segment Email Lists: Best Practices
While it is important to know the different email segmentation strategies available for use, it is equally important to keep the best practices in mind. Listed below are some ways successful brands segment their email lists.
1. Select the Right Segmentation Tool
The first step is to choose the right B2B email segmentation tool. A simple tool will make it easy to create contact segments based on different criteria like company revenue, number of employees, job title, geo-location, email clicks, open rates, etc.
Such thorough information gives you a clear idea of relevant messaging for each customer.
2. Feed in the Correct Contact List
List segmentation is only effective when you have an updated list of correct contacts. It is important to ensure your current customer list is not full of discrepancies, duplicities, and blank fields.
Establishing a two-way sync between your CRM and segmentation tool will enable you to connect with the right leads.
3. Choose the Path of Simplicity
When you’re just getting started with B2B email segmentation, it is best to keep things simple. Start with not more than two to three segments that will most impact your business – geo-location, job title, industry, etc.
Gradually, you can bring in more complexity by looking at each buyer persona, especially for the technographics.
4. Label Accounts from the Get-Go
Another effective email marketing segmentation practice is to label leads as soon as they enter your CRM. This means performing list segmentation early on.
This will help you keep all data updated based on custom properties such as communication mediums, demographics, website behavior, technographics, etc.
5. Maintain Data Hygiene
Since data is the backbone for segmentation, you cannot hope to make progress with decaying information. Leads may change their email addresses, switch jobs, or the company’s tech spending may change from year to year.
It is important to stay on top of all this through regular data updation, ideally once every quarter. This will ensure you always have relevant and ready customers for your email marketing strategies.
6. Combine List Segmentation with Email Automation
Once your business has grown to a certain stage, it can become challenging to keep a tab on all segments and send out timely emails.
To avoid missing out on marketing opportunities, it is best to pair your list segmentation tool with a marketing automation tool. At the right time, you can set up email drip campaigns that send out newsletters, activity-based emails, etc., to drive engagement.
7. Track down Results
B2B email segmentation is not a set-and-forget practice. It is important to make time for performance tracking.
- Are the segmentation criteria working?
- Could there be more segments to narrow down the audience further?
- Have open rates and click-throughs improved?
- What is the email unsubscribe rate?
- Which segments are working the best?
These are some important questions that can be answered through monitoring performance. Based on the results, you can configure a segment that is not performing well to drive growth.
The Bottom Line
Email marketing segmentation is your surefire way to escape the spray-and-pray misery. Instead of shooting in the dark, you can have a clear idea of not just potential customers but also the best ways to communicate with them.
The right people will receive the right message at the right time, and the wrong people will be churned out. Are you still relying on mass emails for your entire email list? Then it’s time to improve marketing performance with solid email segmentation strategies.
With every email you send, generate more leads, nurture the qualified ones down the sales funnel, and focus on your most engaged prospects.