B2B Marketing Zone

Segmentation: 5 Steps to Help You Send Emails That Your Prospects Actually Want to Read

Segmentation: 5 Steps to Help You Send Emails That Your Prospects Actually Want to Read

The percentage of emails being considered SPAM is hovering somewhere around 70%, This means that email marketers need to be savvier than ever when figuring out how to reach potential customers.

If your inbox looks anything like mine, you’re constantly being inundated with emails that have absolutely no relevancy to you, your job, your interests, or your needs. Furthermore, what all of these unwanted emails likely have in common is that they’re an annoyance, taking up space, wasting your attention and your time.

email segmentation

If you’re on the flip side of this – you’re the one sending these generic blast emails – I’ll be the first to ask you to kindly stop. Take a hint from your high unsubscribe rates/low conversion rates and rethink your strategy. The answer to these email marketing woes is segmentation and personalization.

Delivering the right content to the right person may seem like an impossible goal, but it’s both doable and worth it: it’s an incredibly impactful way to boost revenue from your email marketing efforts. In fact, companies who use segmentation say it increases conversion rates by up to 30%.

Segmentation is nothing more than a very strategic way to apply intelligence you’re probably already gathering, and it results in delivering targeted information that feels more personal to the recipient. Here are five easy steps to sending targeted email messages that your prospects will actually want to read:

Step One: Truly Understand Your Audience

I know you probably understand the basic outline of your audience – you know that your most frequent buyer is an HR manager or a sales professional. These general buckets put you one step closer to understanding your audience, but do you know what keeps them up at night? Do you know what their biggest pain points are? Do you know which technologies are currently giving them a massive headache? While these data points might seem too granular, they’re actually the first step in understanding exactly what your target audience is looking for, and furthermore, where your company’s solution might enter the picture.

When gathering data about your target audience you’ll want to explore both demographic/firmographic and behavioral trends to truly understand what makes your prospects and customers tick. A good way to get a pulse on your audience is to conduct a survey – we sometimes use SurveyMonkey or Ascend2 to help us ask the right people the right questions so we can make data-driven decisions. Another way to understand your buyer is to spend time talking with your sales team. Most often, sales departments have the closest relationship with prospects and have the most in-depth conversations with individuals about their role, frustrations, and successes.

Remember that this first step is 100% about the audience and 0% about your company’s product or solution.

Step Two: Identify Important Data Points

If you’ve successfully completed the first step and have gathered tons of market research, you’re hopefully swimming in a deep pool of useful data about your target market. But what’s important and what’s trivial? Well, that’s a tougher question. If you’re lucky, your data returned an “AHA!” moment, and you’ve gleaned incredible new insight on your target market. However, what’s more than likely is that you’ve just gained a whole lot of data that you’re a bit unsure of how to sift through.

There really aren’t any concrete rules about what data should be used to help segmentation. However, in order to get the most from your efforts, focus on data points that highlight the differences in the survey responses. Some ideas might be job title, buying habits, industry, pain points, current technology stack, geolocation, familiarity with your company or your competitors. Data that is most helpful is data that helps you craft your unique and personalized messages.

As an example, one company we know found that 90% of the leads that converted to sales for them used a particular type and brand of technology. Knowing that allowed them to craft messaging that spoke directly to that fact.

Step Three: Create Unique Buyer Personas

Even if you only sell one product, it’s very likely that there’s a lot of variety in the people who are buying your services, and they may purchase for completely different reasons. This is where buyer personas allow you to understand the differences in the people you’re marketing to.

Buyer persona toolkit

We suggest creating a worksheet in order to granularly understand each individual persona. Most companies can identify three or more buyer personas within their target audience. Using your new understanding of their pain points, interests, and other psychographic characteristics, begin to create avatars who embody your different personas. Give them memorable names such as “Molly the Marketing Machine” or “Frank the Feisty Founder”. These personas will help you craft your messages and speak to commonalities within your target market.

Step Four: Tailor Content According to Personas

Now that you’ve put the “person” in persona, it’s time to figure out how to speak directly to individuals in a one-to-many way that feels as though it’s one-to-one. People respond best to content that’s closest to their own situation, content that is recognizable. Would a CTO have the same needs and wants as an entry-level IT analyst? Of course not. If you’re using a marketing automation system, it’s easy to segment your contacts based on these personas to deliver the right message to the right person.

Buyer Personas

The most important thing to remember during this stage is that you’re no longer speaking to groups, but instead to individual people. With all of this knowledge about your target market, you’re now able to deliver content by understanding and leveraging the personal dimension.

This stage is all about matching the correct content to the correct audience, and furthermore, moving away from B2B or B2C marketing and into H2H (human-to-human).

For an added touch, use fields in your database to add the recipient’s name, job title, or industry into your emails in order to make them feel more personal.

Step Five: Analyze and Adjust

Just as your company and solutions are always evolving, so are your personas. It’s important that you don’t lose touch with the wants and needs of your target audience. Put processes in place so that you can measure the results of your segmented email marketing campaigns and if you notice that your messaging may no longer be resonating with a certain audience, adjust it. Keep testing your subject lines, key messages and calls to action. Sometimes what works best isn’t obvious.

The End Game

Segmenting and tailoring your email marketing efforts allow you to truly demonstrate your value proposition. People notice that you notice who they are … and everyone likes a little attention, of the right kind. If you’re speaking directly to people’s individual needs, wants, and pain-points, you suddenly have the authority to say “We understand, and we can help.”

Lead scoring and segmentation toolkit


McKenzie Ingram is a marketing journalist for Act-On Software. She received a B.A. in Advertising and a B.S. in German from the University of Oregon in 2011 and has since worked as a copywriter, content creationist, and digital marketer.