How to Turn Subscribers into Customers: Next Steps in Email Segmentation

Statistics Say Email Segmentation Converts Better than Other Strategies

Email segmentation is a leading marketing strategy for eCommerce companies around the world. Numbers indicate that email is already better at conversion for eCommerce companies than SEO, social media, and other digital display ads. When you add the power of email segmentation, your business is certain to see an improvement in the ratio of people who passively read your emails versus those who actually engage with your brand. This equals more customers.

These strategies will help you use email segmentation effectively, no matter what product you sell in your online store.

Wisely Utilize Demographic Data in  Email Segmentation

One of the most effective ways to target your subscribers is by relevant demographic. Demographic data includes information such as age, gender, wealth, and location. Different eCommerce companies will determine different demographic data to be important. For example, gender is  generally very important for a clothing retailer, while location might not be as influential to purchasing decisions. On the other hand, if you are selling NFL t-shirts, then location could be your most valuable piece of information.

First, decide what demographic data is influencing your customer’s decisions. Build a list of this information, and look for the factors that affect not just “if” they buy your product, but also “why.”


Consider a handmade jewelry seller. This artisan creates delicate and natural designs that appeal to women of all ages, but create very little jewelry that would be considered masculine or for men. This artisan sets up a subscription pop-up on her homepage. After a few days she has amassed subscribers and wants to send her first email blast. Does she send a single email about this beautiful jewelry, or two, or more?

Through email segmentation this artisan might determine that the most pertinent information for women is about buying for themselves or another woman, but men might be interested in buying exclusively for someone else. Gender, here, is influential in why people are visiting her page. Therefore, for her first email blast she sends one email targeted at shoppers who want to purchase and keep her gemstone rings, and a second email targeted at shoppers who want to purchase and give her gemstone rings as a gift.

This simple segmentation allows the artisan to send her subscribers content they actually want. This is far more likely to convert than hoping for potential customers with un-targeted emails.

The Difficulty of Relying on Demographics in Email Segmentation

Of course, there is a major complication in relying on demographics for your email segmentation: How can an eCommerce company collect this information about their subscribers?


Pop-up windows have become a popular way to ask potential customers to subscribe to email marketing. A lot of time and effort is spent designing this window, or similar pop-ups placed at checkout or product pages. However, most of the time the only information obtained is an email address. At times, this can be enough for a company to determine gender, but who wants to sift through email addresses trying to decipher the subscriber’s gender?

Instead, bring email segmentation to the forefront. When you ask for subscribers, try to gather a bit more information. If you pre-plan, this can be a single question, for example “Where do you live?” and a drop down to choose the appropriate state. Alternatively, age might be a division in your possible customers, and you can easily ask subscribers to choose an age range. Maybe age can be tactfully requested along with location or gender since people can sometimes be hesitant to divulge this information.

Make it your goal to gather information during the subscription and setup process. This allows you to target specific subscribers at the start of their communication with your brand, but you can always work in other ways to gather demographic information. Of course, location is becoming easier and easier to determine with location services and tracking on the back-end of your website.

Another way to gather data about customers is to announce a sale or special discount via email that requires entering a zip code or basic personal information in order to unlock the discount code. Alternatively, an email blast that cheerfully says you want to get to know your customers might be effective.

Two Awesome Alternatives to Demographic Data

Unable or unwilling to collect demographic data on your subscribers? Don’t abandon email segmentation as a tool to make sales. Some companies are actually built on the anonymity of their customers, or mystique might be a brand strategy. Don’t destroy your customer’s connection to gather demographic information. Some eCommerce companies may simply see demographic data as irrelevant to their sales.  For an example of this, a company that sells a single product probably would not benefit much from demographic data.

Instead, try email segmentation based on what you do know about your subscribers. At the most basic level, you know who opens your weekly or bi-weekly emails and who doesn’t. This is the easiest piece of information to obtain, and if you aren’t tracking this data through Mailchimp, Constant Contact, or another service – you need to be.

If you want to know which customers ignore your emails, these email marketing services can tell you. This could be the key to successful email segmentation. Send your usual email to people who consistently engage, but change tactics with other subscribers. Those subscribers that send you to the trash need new reasons to read your weekly email. When you use email segmentation by subscriber activity, it is also an opportunity to learn more about subscriber habits. This could be the right “in” for your brand.

There are numerous metrics you can use for tracking engagement with your email communication, and open rate is not your only option. Email segmentation can be built on clicks within your email, responses, complaints, and others. Mailchimp, and other services, can guide you through these options.

A second way to segment your emails is based on customer loyalty. This can be highly effective because it gets straight to the habits of your subscribers, as they interact with your brand or product. One-time customers are likely to respond to email content differently than a regular purchaser. As well, someone who has yet to make a single purchase sees your content through a different lens.  You are trying to engage each of these subscribers, but why would you send all three the exact same email? You shouldn’t.

With regular customers you are trying to encourage more frequent spending or provide an opportunity to try something new. Give them an up-sell or limited time offer. When it comes to one-time customers, though, you need to bring them back to your site. Make it easy for them to repurchase the same product, or something similar. To do this offer a discount or send reminders.

Lastly, you want to get first-time buyers to your site. You can do this by lauding the positive attributes of your product and brand. These emails are probably less targeted and specific because you don’t know as much about this potential customer or their interest level in actually making a purchase.

Assistance with Email Segmentation from the Experts

Setting up your email segmentation might be straightforward, but in addition to these tactics, there are hundreds of others. ECommerce companies determine email segmentation by the subscriber’s position in the sales funnel, behavior online and on their website, social media engagement, by collecting information on habits and hobbies, and other data.

At 1Digital Agency, our experts in email marketing will look at your brand and past email engagement to determine a strategy for your email campaigns and segmentation. To learn more about our team and how we manage email marketing, visit our website.

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