450459041If you're like many nonprofit organizations, there’s a good likelihood that you have one or two “catch all” email lists and can’t target the emails you send out. If this is the case, you’re at a big disadvantage and are missing out on some big opportunities.

By segmenting your email list and targeting the emails to the appropriate audience, you can dramatically increase the results you see from your email marketing efforts.

But how can you effectively start segmenting a huge list with potentially hundreds of thousands of names? This is the exact question we will answer in today’s blog by providing a proven process for segmenting your email lists.

1) Develop Personas

The first step is to decide how to segment your list. There are many ways to segment your list, however, if you want one place to start I would recommend to segment by persona. Segmenting by persona will allow you to tailor your messages, content and call to actions towards a specific group of people who it’s very relevant for.

A persona is a fictional representation of your ideal user/donor/volunteer/etc. You create different personas based on grouping people with common characteristics, points of pain, goals or problems. Typically you will have 3-5 different personas, however, it does vary by organization.

You can learn more about personas and how to create yours by reading HubSpot’s Blog, “Everything Marketers Need to Research and Create Details Buyer Personas”.

2) Determine Appropriate Form Fields

Once you have your personas developed, you will then need to look at them for see what the differentiating characteristics are between them. What is a piece of information can you use to distinctly separate people into their respective persona bucket?

For example, if the differentiating characteristic between personas is their industry they work in, a simple question you may ask is, “Which industry do you primarily work in?”. These questions will then be used on all forms on your site in order to start collecting this information.

Keep in mind the less questions you ask the better, however, it’s important that you ask the right questions so you can properly segment your audience based on specific criteria.

3) Update All Forms & Sign Ups

After you have these questions, go back to all of your existing forms and update them with the new form fields so you can start properly segmenting all new users. The sooner you can update your existing forms the better so you don’t miss out on collecting this information from all new contacts.

Although this might cause your conversion rate to slightly dip because your are adding more questions, the tradeoff of having more information to segment and create better marketing will be well worth it and will produce better end results.

4) Create Conversion Offers

The next step is to create a conversion offer for each one of your personas. You will want to create different offers for different personas because the more relevant the topic matter is to a particular person, the higher chance they will convert on it.

A conversion offer is any piece of valuable content that your audience would be willing to fill out a form to receive. This could be an ebook, webinar, seminar, training, guide, whitepaper, etc. Talk with everyone in your organization to brainstorm different content you already have or could easily create.

The goal will be to market these conversion offers to your existing list to re-engage them and get them to download it. Once they download it, the form they fill out will have the new persona based questions which will allow you to gain more information on them and start the segmentation process.

5) Create a Survey

For those who many not be interested in converting on your conversion offers, another tactic you can use is to create a friendly survey to gain both feedback and user information to segment your list. Make sure that your survey includes the list segmentation questions we created in step 2.

I would recommend keeping the survey short, around 10 questions. This will make it more likely people will complete the survey. Additionally, I would recommend putting together some incentive to help boost participation. For example, offer to award a free Starbucks giftcard to 10 randomly selected participants.

6) Host a Contest

Put together a simple contest that you can promote to your existing list and use to draw in new list members. The contest could be as simple as filling out an entry form (which will include the segmentation questions) and offer a big prize, the bigger the better. This will make it very quick and easy for people to sign up and the big prize will give them a big boost of motivation to take action.

If you don’t have any good prizes within your organization to give away, find sponsors to help offer prizes to the winners. The sponsors benefit from the PR of the contest and you’ll benefit from having some amazing prizes.

You will want to check with your legal team to ensure there is no red tape or restrictions on the contest you are running.

7) Repeat

After you complete these steps, you will then want to analyse the success of each one and find ways to make improvements to each one. Then run back through the steps over and over again until you have the vast majority of your list segmented to the best of your ability.

By following this simple process you will be able to segment out the bulk of your contacts. It’s not a simple and quick journey to segment your list, however, it is one that is well worth the time, money and effort. Your messages and marketing will be much more effective and it will get you closer to your goals.

If you have any other ideas that would help segment your list or have questions, feel free to comment below and I’d love to chat.

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Originally published Feb 17, 2014 2:00:00 PM, updated February 01 2017


Email Marketing Buyer Personas