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Andrea Serventi
28 January 2020
Reading time: 9 min.

The ultimate guide to email segmentation: mindsets, tools, and activities

Data organization, segmentation types, fundamental tools, and activities to forward campaigns that fit each recipient’s characteristics, interests, and needs.

When it comes to segmentation, let’s start from the beginning, i.e. from the mailing list concept that has accompanied Email Marketing since its inception. We all know what a mailing list entails. Essentially, it’s a set of email addresses which, with user consent, receive messages from a sender—in our case, a company.

Generally speaking, mailing lists are still indistinct sets of addresses where a company sends the same email. Such a notion can be considered obsolete and outdated.

Today, a mailing list is a complex body layered in subsets and segments. These are created by companies to diversify mailings and, consequently, forward campaigns that fit each recipient’s characteristics, interests, and needs.

Conducting Email Marketing by segments involves segmenting. Specifically, segmenting breaks down the contacts database into subsets through an array of activities and according to a certain number of common features, i.e. behaviorsprofiles, and interests.

Here, we’ll guide you through this process to reveal mindsetstools, and activities for developing your company’s segmentation strategy.

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Data organization

Nowadays,everyone talks about data. Yet when the rubber hits the road, a sense ofdisorientation almost always prevails. Where to begin? Let’s sort it out: thereare four phases or steps to rationalize and collect data.

1. Mapping

Before breaking down the recipients into segments, one should analyze the available data, i.e. understand what has been collected, the quantity, quality, and type of such information, plus if data are updated or obsolete.

Only by understanding the value of the actual database can one assess the right type of segmentation and which data should be collected.

2. Strategy

Once all is tidy, one can move on to strategy. This means identifying the profiles of the customers to be targeted, i.e. the recipient models that drive segmentation.

Defining a strategy will help us understand what data and information are needed, and whether it’s enough or if we need more.

3. Collection

Oncewe know what kind of information is most important for each brand, we shouldfind the best strategy to request it.

Hereenters the field of profiling, i.e. recipient profile creation. A metaphor mayhelp: the typology of people interested in the brand is the “model”whereas the data collected for each of them are the “clothes.”

Thefollowing is needed to collect data and information on recipients:

  • Creativity and sensitivityto obtain information from the user
  • Tools and functionality:the landing page, preference center, and lead magnet are fundamental allies

4. Integration

Integratingand synchronizing the various systems in which information isdisseminated is key in data collection. It’s a no brainer. APIs and connectorscan establish an environment where different systems, whether GoogleAnalytics or an e-commerce platform, can easily share data.

Types of segmentation

Asyou know, segmentation is not limited to group A or B selection. The criteriaand segmentation levels are almost infinite.

Let’snow consider what’s known as the pillars of segmentation. Thesemacro-categories or families contain a multiplicity of more detailedsegmentations.

Demographic segmentation

Thissegmentation type is based on recipients’ demographic data (B2C) or thedetails of the company (B2B), also known as firmographics.

These data are easily available and often provided by the user during the registration process.

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Income
  • Turnover (B2B)
  • Education level
  • Age group
  • Employment
  • Company role
  • Family status

Geographic segmentation

Thisset considers the recipient’s geolocalization parameters. Segmentationby city is the most classic type. For many companies, this is key in selectingrecipients that may be interested in an offer based on geographic reasons. Yetthere are many others:

  • Country
  • City
  • Region
  • Language
  • Climate
  • Market
  • Population

Psychographic segmentation

Psychographicsegmentation is instead based on “a qualitative method.” Thisallows for describing and segmenting consumers based on psychologicalattributes, such as:

  • Values
  • Behavioral preferences
  • Personality
  • Beliefs, opinions
  • Interests
  • Attitudes
  • Habits, lifestyles, and approaches

Behavioral segmentation

Behavioralsegmentation divides the audience into small homogeneous groups based onbehavior, also known as digital body language.

Behavioralsegmentation considers customers’ needs and desires based ontheir behavior. Technically, it is carried out on the basis of parameters suchas:

  • Purchase frequency
  • Brand loyalty
  • Buying habits
  • Occasionality
  • First purchase
  • Engagement level

Cross segmentation

Sofar, each segmentation type that we’ve seen doesn’t exclude the other: anysegmentation can cross to develop even more complex and detailedsegmentations.

Here’san example: a Retail Purchasing Consortium can cross-referencebehavioral and geographic segmentation to send a discount voucher based on thecustomer’s average expenditure (a less expensive coupon within a certainthreshold, a more expensive coupon beyond that threshold) that can be redeemedin a certain store.

Segmentation tools

Nowthat we’ve reviewed data management and segmentation types, let’s dive intosegmentation tools.


A list is an independent set of messages, recipients, settings, and statistics that can be used to manage a certain type of mailing (e.g. lists for loyal customers, newsletters, or foreign markets, etc.).

A company can create different mailing lists within the same platform since each list has an autonomous management system with its own recipients, unsubscriptions, preferences, and types of communication. It’s like having many platforms in one.


Thelist becomes a container that can be divided internally into infinite groups.This allows for creating different sending categories (recipients can belong toseveral groups at the same time). Let’s look at a few examples:

  • Newsletters
  • Promotions
  • Potential customers
  • Top customers
  • Frequent customers
  • Casual customers
  • Inactive customers
  • Foreign market
  • Facebook
  • B2B market

Hereare just a few, but the case studies are endless and directly dependent oneach business.


Recipientscan be divided into segments by filter based on avariety of conditions (up to 20). There are four filter types:

  • Demographic filter: based on data stored in the recipient’s profile
  • Activity filter: based on actions that the recipient has or hasn’t done (i.e., behavior)
  • Geographical filter, based on the recipient’s localization when opening the email
  • Device filter: segments according to the recipient’s device used in opening and engaging with your messages

Segmentation methods


Manualsegmentation involves recalling recipient groups or applying previously createdfilters when sending.

Accessthe screen by clicking on Segments and:

  • Include groups
  • Exclude groups
  • Apply filters

Apreview of the number of recipients is available once the sending is segmented.


Segmentationcan also be automatically set within the workflows to create segmentedand profiled campaigns by default in just a few minutes.

Specificrestrictions for groups and filters are requiredfor creating a workflow. Let’s glance at some workflow examples that conductautomatic segmentation:

  • Welcome emails may differentiate based on the preferences expressed by users when subscribing
  • Emails may forward the latest blog posts or content based on the recipient’s interests
  • Birthday emails offer your recipients a gift
  • Campaigns calibrated on e-commerce data

The same goes for default sendings which, besides letting you set emails and SMS texts automatically, can automatically segment customers by assigning them to a group or moving them from one group to another. Examples:

  • Once a week, you can check if a user hasn’t opened an email for three months and send him/her a re-engagement message
  • You can set timely and automatic emails or SMS texts when conditions such as registration, purchase, and data/date variation occur
  • You can send an email notification about a new blog post


You can also send follow-up emails consistent with the specific link clicked by the recipient. In other words, it’s possible to send messages consistent with the content that triggered the recipient’s interest.

Click-based automation means that companies can increase the degree of relevance of their emails and opening, clicking, and conversion rates.

In summary

Haven’t tried MailUp and its segmentation features yet? Now’s the time. Try the platform for 30 days with no obligations and experience a new way of creating, segmenting, sending, and monitoring Email, SMS, and Messaging Apps campaigns.

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Andrea Serventi

I was born in 1986 in Milan, where I graduated in Modern Literature and started writing for online newspapers, magazines and TV news programs. Having now converted to marketing and the digital world, I am a Content Editor at MailUp: I read, listen, collect ideas, and write about what email marketing is and how to use it strategically.

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