Advice for Dividing Customers Between Multiple Email Lists

John Davier
John Davier

Last updated on

February 8, 2023

Even when eCommerce businesses have more options for reaching out to people than ever before, email marketing is still not only going strong but actually booming. It helps that tech innovators have developed new software and strategies for making the most out of a campaign.

One such strategy is email list segmentation, which entails dividing your subscribers into distinct groups and emailing them accordingly. The idea here is that different people have different responses to different marketing tools and messages — essentially the concept of demographics. If a business can determine the most appealing ways to reach each of their targeted demographics, they are more likely to convert people into customers.

Businesses need to try strategies like this one because simply starting an email marketing blitz is not enough to increase sales and conversions. With that said, they also need to apply the same carefulness and consideration to how they employ those strategies. In light of this, we wish to offer professional advice for dividing customers between multiple email lists.

Each List Needs Its Own Campaign

This may seem obvious. After all, we just wrote that the whole idea behind creating multiple email lists is to treat people differently from others based on particular characteristics. Yet, too many businesses find themselves struggling after failing to heed this cardinal rule.

This is rarely the result of creating multiple lists and sending the same messages to all of them anyway. Usually, this is the result of applying the same marketing strategies to multiple groups because they are “similar enough” in the marketing professional’s eyes. In their laziness, they neglect to consider that the differences between these audiences, however small, can matter a great deal.

Using software to actually create the different email lists is only half the work, and the last half at that. Before taking that step, you and your team must carefully consider the most meaningful characteristics you can use to distinguish your customers. Ideally, you should not simply copy-and-paste the same text with light edits, but craft a distinct strategy and message for each group.

This may require more time, resources, and effort. All of that will be worthwhile because that hard work is more likely to result in greater customer response.

Get Creative with Your Customer Distinctions

When most people in business hear the word “demographics,” they usually think of gender, age, race, and financial status. This is not unwarranted, as they are all important. However, those four factors are hardly the only ones that may influence how potential customers react to a business’s email marketing.

Factors that you may want to observe include the geographical locations from which your customers are making purchases. Each order for a physical item requires a mailing address, so you would have easy access to that information through unobtrusive means. If you notice spikes in certain regions, you should consider using that data to guide your appeals.

Product categories and brands can also guide the creation of email lists. For example, online electronics stores may want to avoid recommending non-Apple products to subscribers who buy Mac computers. Some industries lend themselves better to this than others, so first consider how much your customers would care.

Lastly, you should keep in mind that the people within a particular subset are not a monolith. All of these characteristics intersect with each other in ways that add nuances to how people might react to certain messages. Creating a different list and campaign for each permutation can be tricky, but striving for that ideal is at least worth a try.

Use Tiers to Reward Regular Customers

Your ability to persuade people into taking certain actions significantly increases if you offer the right incentive. Many online businesses offer reward points for frequent buyers, which may include exclusive discounts and even freebies. Of course, when people reach that status, they may not notice their achievement right away. That is why a customer tier program should include automated emails, thus creating another set of email lists.

At the very least, you will have two tiers if you choose to use any. There are those who are new buyers or have only made a single purchase, and those who have already proven their loyalty. You can create as many tiers between them as you want. No matter what you decide, make sure to give customers reasons to ascend.

Of course, high-tier buyers are not the only ones who may benefit from segmentation. First-time respondents deserve more than a single email welcoming them to the list. Some of them are curious to learn more, while others will show interest if they become aware of what your business offers. You can craft an entire strategy with the goal of converting them into repeat customers. Once these newcomers send enough orders or visit enough times, you could then move them up to a new group.

Allow Customers to Choose Their Mailing Lists

Deciding which characteristics deserve their own mailing list can be difficult. Determining which customers go on which list(s) can be tougher still. The more you can reduce the number of tedious tasks on your plate, the more you can focus on more creative and stimulating tasks. Automation software can go a long way towards alleviating some of that effort. Even your customers can help by sorting themselves.

Whether or not you have already taken strides towards segmenting, you can invite all of your current subscribers to fill out a special survey. This questionnaire would be designed to let people indicate what kinds of emails they wish to receive. Once they check off some boxes and submit their responses, you can then sort everyone based on the data you received. You would also be wise to set up your site’s software so that it automatically sends the survey to any new customers.

Survey answers could include categories of emails, such as company-wide announcements, recommendations, product promotions, sales, and newsletters (among many others). If your inventory is diverse enough, you could also ask customers to choose what kinds of products they would like to hear about. Returning to the example of the electronics store, some customers may want emails related to computers and tablets but not related to cell phones.

Obviously, not everyone will respond to that message, and you will still have some work to do. However, every piece of information is a major help that can quickly produce noticeable positive results. Plus, as we detailed in the section on rewards programs, offering tangible incentives will almost certainly boost the number of answers you get.

Never Lose Sight of Your Brand

Tailoring your messages to your customer groups will, by definition, require changes in your writing style. These alterations may include subtle tweaks to diction and tone. Looking at the bigger picture, it may also entail emphasizing different products or aspects of the business, and including different calls-to-action.

However, you may feel tempted to go beyond those minor changes. You may believe that more significant shifts in everything, from the language you use to the overall aesthetic, will appeal to your audiences. This logic seems sound until you remember that your emails do not exist in a vacuum. You cannot veer wildly in one direction for one audience and veer wildly in another direction for another audience because of your pre-established brand.

Recall that when you first establish your business and create the website, you already created a brand for yourself. This pervades everything on the site, from the visual design to the color scheme to the font choice. On top of all that, it pervades your use of language on every page and blog post. Every marketing email you put out is designed to bring people there, either to purchase products or read content or something else. If you disregard your style in the emails, you may attract the customers to click the links, then lose them after the jump.

The goal of creating multiple email lists is to acknowledge the differences between multiple sets of customers. It is not to utterly transform the image of your business until it becomes something else entirely. You can win over some of the people some of the time, but you cannot win over all of the people all of the time.

To put it another way: you, as an individual, would not (or at least should not) drop your entire identity simply to appease another person. You should avoid doing that with your business.

Final Observations

Dividing customers between multiple email lists is not always simple or straightforward. That makes it just like anything else related to eCommerce. If you truly want to achieve success, you need to work hard for it and pay attention to the details. That means thinking carefully about how you will segment your customers, then creating unique campaigns for each one. That also means giving some thought to ideas like rewarding frequent customers or giving customers the option of setting their own emailing preferences. Lastly, that means staying on-brand even when you tweak your writing style.

If you conduct email marketing campaigns that target different types of customers in different ways, you may find yourself rewarded with improvement in everything. More people may open your emails, follow the links, and make the conversions you want. Just make sure that you approach this task, and any other task for running your store, with the proper patience and care.

Author Bio

John Davier

Content marketing guru at Mailmunch. I’m passionate about writing content that resonates with people. Live simply, give generously, stay happy.


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