Beyond Opens and Clicks: Crafting Email Content That Resonates with Each Segment

February 15, 2024

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Your emails stopped converting and customers are switching to other sellers? Well, maybe there's a key component missing in your email marketing strategy: proper, really deep customer segmentation that enables the creation and delivery of truly personalised content that resonates. Here is a detailed guide on how to implement it.

10 years ago I made a horrible mistake. It was 2014,  andI sent out my first email campaign to customers whose emails we had been meticulously collecting through the eCommerce channel at the specialty foods company where I was leading the Marketing department.

Like many marketers back then, I was convinced that retention emails should be simple and contain 3 pieces of content:

1) offer useful content (for example, a recipe how-to video)

2) offer access to a new product,

3) and offer a discount on old products.

Three birds with one stone, so to speak.

It never worked, of course.

I started to suspect that something was missing in our email marketing when I compared the conversion, engagement, and unsubscribe rates for the emails with the conversion rate for the posts on social media.

  • Our 20-40% off posts got great engagement.
  • Our posts about new products got great engagement.
  • Our posts about cooking techniques or new recipes got great engagement.
I started to suspect that something was missing in our email marketing when I compared the conversion, engagement, and unsubscribe rates for the emails with the conversion rate for the posts on social media.

While seemingly the same people who received emails on the same topics were unhappy and unsubscribed.

Eventually, I figured out what was missing.

Our email marketing completely missed any attempt at customer segmentation. While social media platforms did the heavy lifting for us and

— served content about discounts to people who were likely to like discounts;

— content on recipes to people who were likely to enjoy recipes,

— and content on new products to people who're likely classified as adventurers.

An uncomfortable lesson learned the hard way. Since then, I've come to consider customer segmentation as a key element of any email marketing strategy — whether B2B or B2C. Let's explore how it can be implemented in your business.

Customer Segmentation and How It's Done

The Basics of Customer Segmentation

Customer segmentation is the practice of dividing your customer base into distinct groups based on common characteristics. This strategy enables marketers to tailor their messaging to meet the specific needs, behaviours, and preferences of each group (remember, “discount hunters” and “recipes lovers” from my story?), leading to more effective and personalised marketing efforts. No wonder, customer segmentation is a must for eCommerce business.

Examples of Segmentation Criteria

Segments can be created based on a variety of criteria, yet many marketers focus primarily on easily accessible data from third-party providers, such as demographics (age, gender, location, income level, parental status, etc.) and psychographic data (interests, lifestyle). Behavioural patterns, however, offer a richer, albeit more complex, opportunity for segmentation.

In email marketing, segmentation often defaults to openers/non-openers or categorising audiences based on their engagement level (high-engaging vs. low-engaging). However, it's unrealistic to assume that opening an email accurately reflects an individual's content consumption patterns or life interests. While this approach may suffice for initial contact (e.g., cold emailing), it falls short in fostering long-term, trust-based relationships between your brand and your audience.

What behavioural indicators can then be utilised? Purchase history is a critical and unique dataset. It distinguishes your brand from competitors and provides a genuine insight into customer preferences and behaviours.

In email marketing, segmentation often defaults to openers/non-openers or categorising audiences based on their engagement level (high-engaging vs. low-engaging). However, it's unrealistic to assume that opening an email accurately reflects an individual's content consumption patterns or life interests.

For instance, an e-commerce store would benefit greatly from segmenting customers who frequently purchase sports equipment from those interested in wellness products, allowing for highly tailored promotional emails. Consider this: anyone can target ads based on location, parental status, and interests (like Bali trips) via Google. However, only your brand has access to specific data about what customers have purchased, how frequently they shop, the intervals between purchases, and the likelihood of repurchasing in the near future. This information, along with the analysis and predictive analytics built upon it, is a significant competitive advantage. Neglecting to leverage this data is a missed opportunity.

Using Data Analytics for Proper Customer Segmentation

Collecting the Right Data With The Right Tools

Using behavioural data for customer segmentation obviously brings us to the question of using tools and platforms that would allow you to build relevant customer segments. It should be clear by this point that using just email platform data (MailChimp or similar) is not enough. This data should be enriched with the 1st party data from your CRM system, your website visits data, and passed through specialised segmentation software that can help in analysing customer data and identifying segments. Simple cases with very few data points can be easily solved using old good Excel spreadsheets and K-means clustering. More elaborate cases with hundreds of customers, dozens of touchpoint and thousands of products to be selected from demand a more advanced solution.

Aimondo Price Management Platform customers already can access this functionality that helps them to identify relevant segments based on several data sources (for example, purchase history, and GA4 data) and even predict the probability or repurchase in the nearest future.

Aimondo Price management platform customer segmentation

Statistical Models for Segmentation

While specific models like K-means clustering, RFM (Recency, Frequency, Monetary) analysis, and logistic regression can be used for segmentation, the key is to choose a model that aligns with your marketing objectives and data availability. The goal is to identify segments that are actionable and relevant to your marketing strategy.

Customer Segmentation in B2B and B2C – What's the Difference

B2B and B2C segments significantly differ due to their distinct decision-making processes and purchase behaviours. B2B segmentation typically involves factors like industry, company size, and the role of the decision-maker, with a focus on longer sales cycles and high-value transactions. In contrast, B2C segmentation prioritises individual preferences, behaviours, and demographic factors, characterised by shorter sales cycles and a greater emphasis on emotional engagement and brand loyalty.

Moreover, the awareness of the category, product, and problem plays a crucial role in B2B segmentation. Typically, when targeting campaigns at C-level executives, expect low category and product awareness but high problem awareness. Actual potential users often show the opposite: high category awareness and varying levels of product awareness, depending on your brand's market visibility, coupled with low problem awareness. It is essential to tailor content to these distinctions, ensuring that it resonates appropriately with each segment's specific awareness levels and needs.

The Benefits of Customer Segmentation for Email Marketing

So, finally, we got here. How to use segmentation for creating personalised content in your email marketing. According to Statista, personalised content leads to 5% open rates, increased engagement (x1.5 better click rate), and improved conversion rates.

open rate and click rate for personalized emails compared to non-personalised

Implementing Customer Segmentation in Your Email Marketing Strategy

  • Identify Your Segmentation Goals: Start by defining what you aim to achieve with your segmentation. Whether it's increasing open rates, boosting conversions, or enhancing customer loyalty, your goals will guide your segmentation strategy.
  • Collect and Analyse Customer Data: Use the tools and techniques mentioned earlier to collect and analyse customer data. This will form the basis of your segmentation efforts.
  • Create Segments: Based on your analysis, create segments that are meaningful for your business. Remember, segments should be actionable, sizeable, and relevant.
  • Tailor Your Content: Develop personalised email content for each segment. This could include tailored product recommendations, customised offers, or content that addresses specific interests, needs or stage of awareness.
  • Test and Optimise: Continuously test different aspects of your email campaigns, from subject lines to call-to-actions, and use the insights gained to refine your segments and personalisation strategies over time.

Measuring and Optimising Your Segmented Campaigns

Key metrics to track include open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates, and unsubscribe rates. For a deeper understanding of your results, I recommend creating charts for the following:

  • Best performing days
  • Best performing segments
  • Segments with the highest ROI

It's crucial to establish correlations among multiple variables before drawing conclusions, as initial impressions of the data can sometimes be misleading. For instance, after analysing the correlation between open rates and days of the week, you might find that the impact is negligible, indicating that days do not significantly affect your open rate, or at least not as much as subject lines do.

correlation function in excel

Learn more about customer segmentation in pricing by signing up for our free Pricing Expert Course.

Ana Bibikova, a Head of Marketing at Aimondo

Ana Bibikova, a Head of Marketing at Aimondo


Ana is a rare breed: T-shaped marketer with a wide experience in eCommerce, B2B, B2C and B2B2B marketing. Writes about unconventional strategies for exceptional growth.

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