Sending more email and doing more marketing means making more money – right?  The true path of customer segmentation and marketing automation relies on a lot more than just blasting out marketing messages…  It relies on triggering marketing messages based on the actions that your audience takes.

The old school of thought was that your email list should be treated like a hotel.  Every day that goes by that you don’t send an email, is wasted revenue.

… Email frequency, how often you send emails, used to be treated like an opportunity that you can’t get back – getting into your subscriber’s inbox.

Now though, there’s a much better way of managing your list that doesn’t alienate your folks, and keeps your engagement and click rates steadily high…

Mailchimp did a study a few years ago, correlating frequency of emails and click rates.  It turns out that the majority of folks in the study had diminishing click rates the more frequently they mailed…

Meaning, even though they were mailing more often, in some case they were actually getting fewer overall clicks!

And really, you wouldn’t believe how many product owners and email list owners I talk to who don’t do any kind of list management whatsoever…

They have a big list, and they mail that big list no matter how old or how dis-engaged their folks are!

These business owners don’t have any idea what their list is into or what they want more of…  It’s been forever since they asked them for insight through a segmentation survey funnel.  All they know is that at some point in the past, these subscribers opted in for something and they are just going to keep mailing.

When it comes to managing your lists, marketing automation and customer segmentation, there are definite best practices that you should put in place, and it’s important to understand that your prospects and customers are different.

Things may work well for your list that don’t work for others.  In turn, you might hear people tell you what you need to do, and it might backfire.

So, know that you need to test this stuff out religiously and understand that your list might be a little different than everyone else’s!

Knowing What Your List Wants

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Email List Management can be a pain sometimes. If you’ve got lots of products or websites, you’ve inevitably got quite a few lists that are segmented a million different ways and have lots of autoresponder sequences set up.

Keep in mind, your prospect and customer lists are probably your company’s most valuable asset, so invest some time into understanding what your folks want more of and what they can’t stand!

Now, I know there are countless experts around the web trying to convince you that you need to build your email list. But once you have it, what should you do?

Should you email them once a week? Should you write long emails? Should the content be formal or conversational?  Should you put your logo at the top and make it look pretty?  Should you hire someone to manage the list?

There’s so many variables, and we’ll be getting into them in a minute!

If you want to get more people on your list to open you emails, make sure to check out our top 100 Most Opened Email Subject Lines Report.  It's a free PDF delivered right to your inbox.

Where Customer Segmentation Starts

How you arrange your list matters.  The person who has the best control over their list wins at the end of the day.

By segmenting your list the right way and creating some marketing automation around those customer segments, you’ll be sending less email on a daily basis while getting better engagement, higher clickthroughs and more revenue!

Buyers vs. Prospects

Businessman in business suit pay by credit card.

Think about this.  Who is a better lead – someone who has bought from you in the past or someone who hasn’t?

Someone who has bought from you!  Of course!  They’ve shown you that they value your information or products or services or whatever.  They’re not afraid to buy something online.  Plus, they have the resources to actually purchase something!

That means your buyer list should be your absolute most coveted list!

The folks who’ve never bought anything from you have a lower weight in terms of email list value.  Those folks found you for a variety of reasons…  Maybe you gave away a free lead magnet or they opted in through a content upgrade…  The fact of the matter is, they just signed up to get that something for free.

… Don’t get me wrong, the leads that you generate through free reports and landing pages have their place, but they don’t outweigh real-life customers.

Realistically speaking, just having those two lists is a big deal.  You’ll treat your buyers and prospects differently.  You may even set up marketing automation to work with those two groups differently.  You might send something to your prospects that you don’t send to your buyers and vice-versa.

So, at minimum, you should have a buyers list and prospects list.

Now, let’s break them down even more.

Keeping Affiliates and JV’s Separate

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Affiliates and JV’s are your marketing partners – they help you reach the corners of the Internet while making a percentage of the products and services sold.

For this reason, you should keep your affiliates and JV partners on a separate list, making sure to only mail to them when you have something for them!  Think affiliate contests, new products, launches and when you’re moving your company in a new direction.

The ONLY market where your affiliate list might be your prospect list is in the Internet marketing space.  You want your affiliates to be well trained so that they can help you promote better, so it would be advantageous to do some training or link off to good marketing products.

I know quite a few product owners in different niches who have entire courses that they give away for free to their affiliates, all in hopes of making them better marketers who promote their products!

List Interests

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Let’s face it, not every person on your list is interested into the same thing!  In the Internet marketing space, some folks are interested in free traffic.  Others in paid traffic.  Still others in list building or product development.  That’s one of the reasons we’ve done so much work perfecting surveys and quizzes that drive marketing automation.

The more control you have over what your list is interested in, the better you can market to them.

There are quite a few ways that you can figure this out…

  • Surveying your list
  • Monitoring email link click throughs and assigning them to a tag in your email marketing software
  • Putting a dropdown list on the optin form
  • Tracking what pages someone visits and putting them in different tags
  • Creating retargeting audiences around the URL’s that people visit

There are lots of ways to get this data.

If I mail my list of 40,000 business owners, with some clicking through and then some filling out the survey…  I have a very poor picture of what my list is into, simply because there isn’t enough data!

If, however, I track who opened an email based on the subject line, I’ll have a much better idea of what they want more of!

Some email platforms like Ontraport and Infusionsoft make this type of marketing automation and customer segmentation pretty easy…

Active vs. Inactive Leads

young businessman too overwork to asleep

With email, on most platforms including Ontraport, you have to pay once you hit a number of emails sent or a number of contacts in your database.

For example, included in Ontraport’s monthly cost is the ability to send 100,000 emails.  Once we hit that 100K cap, we pay $99 for each additional 100K emails sent.

There are months we’ll spend another $1200 on email!  Crazy, huh?

One way to curb both of those things, extra costs and low deliverability rates, is to only send email to your active subscribers.

Let’s face it.  If someone hasn’t opened your email in the last 4 months, they probably aren’t going to.

I know it hurts but just delete them out of your system.  They’re gone.  And if they come back, they’ll sign up for your stuff again.

If you can’t bring yourself to delete them, then set their email status to ‘No’ or unsubscribe them or whatever.

How Did They Find You?

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Often times, we’ll do customer segmentation by what promo they signed up for, meaning what lead magnet did they download or what video they watched which make them sign up?

Another way I’ll do it since we work with some affiliates is tag leads according to who sent them.  It’s funny to go through and see how many people are on how many lists!

In fact, when we were doing a lot of webinars a few years ago, less and less people were actually new to me!  It got to the point where we’d run an import of the people who signed up and only about 30% were new leads!!

You wouldn’t believe how many people signed up for the same automated webinar 4 and 5 times through different affiliates!  (maybe you were one of them? – there’s nothing wrong with that by the way!)

Additional List Management Tips…

Here are some additional list management tips that have worked for me.

We’ll be digging into these a little deeper in future articles…

Email Your List Often

The first time I heard this, I almost laughed. If I email my list everyday, people will unsubscribe! They’ll report my emails as spam. I worked so hard to get them on – I don’t want to make them mad!

What I can tell you is that the people who unsubscribe would have done so anyway, sooner or later. There’s no way you can continue to give away content week after week without asking them to take action in some way. Maybe that’s through an affiliate link or by selling your own products.

The point is, you’re in business to make money, right? That’s what keeps the lights on and a roof over your head. Your true prospects, friends and customers will understand that.

Make Use Of Actions And Rules

In some of the more sophisticated email marketing platforms, like Ontraport and Infusionsoft, you can do lots of complex customer segmentation and marketing automation.

Things like:

  • If someone goes to this page, add them to this list
  • If someone clicks this link, remove them from List 1 and put them on List 2
  • If someone chooses this field in this form, add them to this sequence
  • If a customer buys X product, put them in the sequence that promotes Y product

The term ‘behavioral segmentation’ seems to be the newest phrase in Internet marketing, and the examples above are what’s fueling that revolution.

My point is, the better you understand what your list is doing and what they’re into, the fewer emails you can send and the greater your engagement will be!

Keep Things Current

If you don’t plan on writing to your list every day or every couple days, set up an autoresponder series that does it for you. That’s why we built Scriptly, the make autoresponders easy.

The worst thing you can do is let people forget who you are.

Actually, just this morning, I got two emails – one from Tony Robbins with a direct link to a video and one from another email marketer with an opt-in which forwarded you to the same video.

Keep in mind, this is the first email I got from the no-name marketer and I was a bit skeptical. I didn’t remember signing up for anything of his. I didn’t recognize his name at first. And I was a bit weirded out because he was making me signup for something I already had a link to. I thought maybe he was trying to grow his list off of Tony’s video.

So, after twenty minutes of checking nameservers and digging, I finally remembered who this guy was (and it’s cool…). I just didn’t remember what I was doing on his list!

Marketing Automation Starts With Customer Segmenation

With the right customer segmentation, even the smallest of lists can outperform giant ones because they’re so specialized.  A list of 1000 subscribers all uniquely interested in on topic will far outperform a list of 100,000 people who signed up for any number of reasons.

It’s your job to cultivate that list – to segment them – into groups that you can nurture through blog posts, lead magnets, videos and so much more.

Sure, it takes some sloshing through data to get started, but you’ll be glad you put the time in pretty quickly!