5 eCommerce Email Marketing Segmentation Strategies

19 Sep
5 eCommerce Email Marketing Segmentation Strategies

I’m gonna let you in on a little email marketing secret that most business owners don't know…

Sending your email to fewer people will help you get better results.

I know, I know… you’re trying to get the word out to as many people as possible, and this sounds a little counter-intuitive.

But hear me out.

Regardless of what you’re selling in your store, you probably have different subsets of your audience that are interested in different things.

Say you sell apparel for men, women, and children, for example.

The last thing you’d want to do is send your 42-year-old customer, Joe, an email about your new collection of My Little Pony tutu skirts.

I mean, can you imagine what’ll happen when Joe gets this email?

If he’s got a good sense of humor, he might get a chuckle.

If not, he might take to social media to rant about how your brand had the audacity to send him an email to recommend him tutu skirts.

Either way, Joe will definitely unsubscribe from your newsletter.

This means you lose your chance at converting him to a paying customer or getting repeat purchases from him further down the road.

So, how do you know how to send the right emails to the right contacts?

The answer is simple – you segment your list!

In a nutshell, eCommerce email marketing segmentation is all about being relevant to your potential customers.

That said, it also offers you a ton of other benefits. This chart says it all:

Want to start experimenting with eCommerce segmentation? Let's get to it! 

In this article you will learn:

5 eCommerce Email Marketing Segmentation Strategies

1. Based on Subscriber's Demographics

Joe’s story (that we discussed above!) tells us this:

It’s important to segment your customers according to their basic demographics so that you only send them relevant emails.

Now, you might be thinking:

Psh, that’s marketing 101. I’ve been segmenting my customers by their demographics since I first started running my online store.

Fair enough – but are you SURE that you’ve gotten your eCommerce segmentation right?

Now, plenty of eCommerce store owners simply assume that those who buy men’s products are men, and those who buy women’s products are women…

And they set up “rules” that automatically add their buyers into these segments based on the items they purchase.

But here’s the thing:

Plenty of shoppers purchase items for their friends or partners (as a gift), or their husbands or wives (because they’re in charge of the shopping that week).

Say a customer purchased a jumbo-sized pack of tampons two months back, and you’ve been sending them product recommendations for tampons and heating pads ever since.

This person (whom you assumed was a woman) might very well turn out to be a man.

Not all hope is lost. They might still purchase the feminine-care products you’re recommending for their partner…

But at the end of the day, you’re definitely selling yourself short by exclusively recommending them items for women.

Alright, so how do you remedy this?

One method is to add a few fields to your signup form, so that you can get your new subscribers to indicate their age, location, gender, etc.

But doing this increases the friction of signing up… and it will probably result in you getting less new contacts.

So, here’s what we recommend:

In the welcome email that you trigger to your new contacts, direct them to a landing page, and allow them to fill in more information about themselves here.

Here’s how Ssense does it:

Upon clicking on the link, contacts are redirected to this page:

Pretty smart, right?

How To Implement

  • Edit your welcome image to add a Call To Action for contacts to update their preference
  • Create a Subscription Webform that allows contacts to fill in their demographic information
  • Create a landing page on your website, and copy and paste the embeddable HTML from your Webform into your landing page
  • Link your welcome email to this landing page
  • Add new campaigns to your email marketing strategy that target your contacts based on their segments


2. Based on Customers’ Purchase History

Anyone can recommend products to their customers, but if you want to do this in a strategic way, you should take your customer’s purchase history into consideration.

For example, say Customer A has purchased DSLR camera accessories on your website, and you want to hit them up with a product recommendation email.

Now, you can simply showcase other various DSLR accessories or camera equipment on your site.

But if you want your recommendations to be more targeted and impactful, here’s what you should do…

Figure out which brand or products your customer has a preference for, and serve them product recommendations that are tailored to their liking.

It’ll take too much effort to analyze your readers’ brand preferences and segment them manually, but don’t worry – you can always count on a handy marketing automation tool like Sendlane to come to your rescue.

How To Implement

  • Create a newsletter that highlights product recommendations from different brands
  • Input links in your newsletter so that your reader can click through 
  • Tag each link with its brand or product name, so that you can track what your contacts are clicking on. (You can do this by selecting a tag or creating a new tag from a drop-down list – check out the screenshot below).
  • Once your contact clicks on a tagged link, the tag will be added to their profile.

Create new campaigns to serve product recommendation emails to your contacts based on their specific tags.

For your contacts tagged with “Nikon”, for example, you can personalize the email content and recommend them Nikon products!

3. Based on Average Order Value (AOV)

Apart from creating email segments according to your customers' brand preferences, you can also go a step further, and segment them according to their Average Order Value (AOV); which, by the way, is a perfect opportunity to upsell.

For example, say Customer A has an AOV of $50. You’d want to recommend them products within the $50 to $70 price range, so as to maximize the revenue you can potentially earn.

For example, say Customer A has an AOV of $50. You’d want to recommend them products within the $50 to $70 price range, so as to maximize the revenue you can potentially earn.

If Customer B has an AOV of $100, on the other hand, it makes sense to send a different email recommending products within the $100 to $120 price range. You wouldn’t promote a $50 product… not when you know your customer has more purchasing power!

For those using Sendlane, there are two ways of figuring out your AOV metrics.

First, you can do this with Sendlane’s Beacon Website & Event Tracking feature. This involves creating a tracked event so that you can identify exactly how much revenue you’re generating from each individual email campaign.

(If you’re new to event tracking, here’s a handy guide that will walk you through how to set it up).

Your other option is to use Deep Data for Shopify, which is an integration that helps you track your contacts and collect data on the actions they take on your website.

Out of the two options, we recommend using Deep Data.

Why is this so?

Well, if you use event tracking, you’re not getting the complete picture.

If Contact A spends $50 after clicking on a link in an email campaign, sure, you can track that. But if this same person returns to your website and makes another $150 purchase subsequently, this doesn’t get reflected in the data.

Now, because you think Contact A has an AOV of $50, you’ll serve them recommendations that are around that price range…

When in actual fact, their AOV is ($50+$150) / 2 = $100.

How To Implement

  • Set up Deep Data for Shopify (here’s a step-by-step guide).
  • Navigate to “Lists” under your Sendlane dashboard, and segment your contacts by their AOV.
  • Create different product recommendation campaigns to target contacts in different segments. You could have a campaign for low spenders.
  •  Adjust the dollar amounts according to your industry and the products you’re selling!

4. Based on Shopping Cart Abandonment

Cart abandonment is an eCommerce store owner’s worst nightmare.

Who else agrees?

On average, a whopping 78% of customers will abandon their carts, and leave an eCommerce store without making a purchase.

Now, let’s put this into context.

Assuming your AOV is $100, and you have 10 customers who add items to their cart every day, this translates into a potential revenue of $1,000 per day.

That’s $30,000 of revenue per month…

Assuming your margin isn’t too low, you’ll earn a decent income.

But what happens when you factor in abandoned carts?

Your revenue plummets to $220 per day and $6,600 per month.

Once you account for your Cost Of Goods Sold (COGS), inventory and warehousing, shipping fees, and marketing costs, you’ll be paying yourself a pittance.

Sucks, huh?

Thankfully, there are things you can do to reduce your cart abandonment rates.

For instance, you can set up an email automation flow targeting the visitors who abandoned their carts, and convince them to return to your site to complete their purchase!

If you need some inspiration, here are three types of emails sure to boost abandoned cart conversion rates…

First up, this email by Alex Mill that’s short, sweet, and to-the-point:


What’s so great about this email?

Their messaging is clear, telling the customer exactly what you want them to do - click through to their cart. 

Their CTA is bold and on top of that, they provide other product recommendations below to encourage their abandoned cart contact to purchase even more than is already in their cart! Be sure to add a clever, engaging subject line and you'll be good to roll. 

Assuming you’re on Shopify, you can easily integrate Sendlane with Shopify to retarget your customers who have abandoned your carts.

How To Implement

  • Head to “Automations” in your Sendlane account, click “Add automation”, select “Workflow”, and choose “Abandoned checkout” from the drop-down list.
  • Decide when you want to trigger your abandoned cart workflow. Do you want your customer to receive your email within 1, 3, 6, or 24 hours of abandoning their cart?
  • Name your automation
  • Add a “Send Email” action
  • Click on “Select an Email”, and choose “Create an email” from the dropdown
  • Design your email. When you add a button within the email, Sendlane will plug your dynamic Shopify Abandoned Cart link into this button – this means that anyone who clicks on it will be redirected to their abandoned cart.
  • Finish creating your Workflow

5. Based on Inactivity

Ever heard of a break-up email?

Basically, these are emails that you send to your inactive contacts to tell them you’re taking them off your email list.

If you hear the term “re-engagement email” floating around, that refers to the same thing!

Now, I know what you’re thinking…

That’s mad. Why would I take anyone off my list?

Well, it’s actually a best practice to prune your list ever so often.

Doing this helps you ensure that your engagement levels (like your open rates and click rates) are high, and this in turn increases your deliverability.

Also, it’s much better to remove an inactive contact from your list, rather than risk them flagging you as spam.

Now let’s clear, let’s talk about what counts as “inactivity”.

At Sendlane, we define an inactive person as someone who hasn’t opened or clicked on an email in the last 90 days.

If someone hasn’t opened or engaged with your emails in 3 months, it’s pretty obvious that they’re no longer interested!

Alright, so where do break-up emails come into play?

Before you remove your inactive contact, you’d send them this email as a last-ditch attempt to re-engage them.

Here’s an example from Paul Mitchell:

Here, Paul Mitchell’s conversational copywriting goes a long way in humanizing the brand, and building rapport with the reader. Check out that line:

We can take a (hint, sniffle sniffle). 

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that they’re throwing in a promo code as well.

That’s all the more incentive for their contacts to re-engage!

How To Implement

  1. Segment your contacts based on how active they are. (If you’re using Sendlane, you can do this by navigating to Audience > Segments under your dashboard)
  • Draft your email to these contacts. (Think about what sort of incentive you can offer them. A promo code? Free shipping off their next purchase? A gift with purchase?)
  • Schedule your campaign, and let it run.

PS: To learn more about list cleaning, check out our article: To Clean or Not to Clean – The Official Case Study of List Cleaning.


eCom Segmentation - Improve Relevance to Earn More Sales

Those who aren’t in the industry might think eCommerce is easy, but we know the truth… it’s a tough nut to crack.

For one thing, you can’t simply set up a store on Shopify, and wait for people to come to you.

You’ve got to set aside money to advertise, and regardless of whether you’re on Google AdWords or Facebook ads, those Costs Per Click can get pretty high.

Bearing this in mind, it’s important for you to NOT rely solely on acquiring new customers.

Instead, you should engage with your existing customers and contacts, and get them to make a second purchase. Then a third. And a fourth.

How do you market to your contacts effectively?

It’s simple – relevance is key.

You need to segment your contacts and create email campaigns that are laser-targeted to them. Using segmentation, you can ensure you send the right message to the right person at the right time. 

Now get to work! And if you're ready to take Sendlane for a spin, sign up for your free 60-day trial here.

Do you know what is user-generated content (UGC)? If not, take advantage of this article on the benefits of UGC in any eCommerce marketing plan.

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