Where to start with email segmentation

18 October, 2018 by Jenna Tiffany Best practiceTips & Tricks

The most important starting point with segmentation is to start with a simple approach. A few years ago some brands got a little too segmentation happy and ended up with hundreds of segments. That may sound great but in reality, trying to manage that many segments become a logistical nightmare! So our first tip is to start with a simple approach to segmentation. Then you can refine as you learn more and more about your subscribers.

Lifecycle marketing

There are five key stages to lifecycle marketing that represent the steps that your customers go through:

  1. Acquisition
  2. Consideration
  3. Purchase
  4. Retention
  5. Re-engage

Source: EmailMonday

This provides a great starting point for segmentation as you'll naturally create segments as you build your lifecycle campaigns.


The objective for your business during the first stage: acquisition, is to attract new customers and in the case for email marketing, it is to engage your new prospect to the point of them subscribing to receiving marketing from you. The most effective email journey to create to send to new subscribers is a welcome journey.

The welcome journey provides an opportunity for you to thank your new subscriber, set expectations of the content you're going to be sending and frequency, and key USPs (Unique Selling Points) of your brand to start to build a relationship with your subscriber. This can be multiple emails that are automatically sent with your second and third email aiming to capture more information about your new subscriber that can then be fed into the personalised content of future campaigns.


During this stage, you're trying to convert prospects. It could be that you've seen that a prospect has left items in their basket and not completed their purchase. Here you can send a basket abandonment email to engage the prospect into completing their purchase.

Recommendations, ratings and reviews also pay a huge role in convincing a new prospect that they should purchase from your company, so be sure to make these prominent. However be cautious including discounts during this stage. If you do provide them you could be training your customers to abandon their baskets in hopes of receiving an offer.


When a customer purchases from you, the lifecycle journey doesn't end there. There's an opportunity to gather feedback on their experience and their purchase. You can also upsell similar products to upgrade their order, in the same way to Clinique below:

These ‘similar products’ recommendations can be as effective as content generated by AI and machine learning. As they are both based on rules, such as the same category, similar price rate etc which can be as efficient as machine learning based on recommendations.


Keeping customers coming back for more is crucial for any business. That’s the focus of the retention phase, keep a customer who has made a purchase loyal. This could include providing relevant product recommendations based on purchasing behaviour, VIP discounts and exclusive loyalty schemes. But remember if you are hoping to provide recommendations that would profile your customers you need permission to do so.


Do you have customers that haven't engaged with your email campaigns or purchased from you for an extended period? Depending on the length of the buying cycle for your product, it may be time to send a re-engagement campaign. Engage with your customers again. Relevancy throughout the lifecycle is critical but even more so during this phase, because the risk of sending an utterly irrelevant email to your inactive subscribers could mean you lose them forever.

Caution: be careful sending offers within re-engagement/win-back campaigns because it could train your subscribers to become inactive in the hope of receiving an offer purposely.

To achieve successful segmentation, you need to know your audience, and that's where Mailkit’s engagement score comes in. It automatically segments your subscribers using artificial intelligence by their reactions to your previous campaigns. There's also an option t use the Engagement Score feature within the advanced filtering section to target recipients who have been the most engaged with your email campaigns over an extended timeframe. You can also use the Engagement score to segment subscribers that are inactive which is simple to do as they will have a low engagement score in the system automatically. These recipients can then be targeted with your win-back/re-engagement campaign as recommended above as part of your lifecycle activity.

Gaps in your lifecycle strategy?

The starting point is to determine the gaps in your communications:

  • Is there a point where your customer or prospect is engaging with your brand, and you're not engaging back?
  • Is there an opportunity to engage more with new customers than your current strategy is doing?
  • Where do customers start to drop out of the sales funnel or begin to reduce their engagement with your business?

Remember to focus on your customer and on building a relationship when creating your segmentation and Lifecyle marketing. Simplicity is also key, don’t over complicate it!

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