Email SegmentationThis is a somewhat advanced email marketing tactic, although most serious email marketers having been doing it for years. For me though, this is something I’ve only recently been able to test because I haven’t had the technological resources to do so.

I recently upgraded my AWeber account to the “new” version. In case you missed the news about the new AWeber upgrades, the CEO Tom Kulzer and his team recently rolled out some nice advanced email marketing features.

The features let you create segmentations in your lists based on various elements, such as who opened your email and who clicked your links within the emails. There are other options as well, but for the purpose of this article let’s just focus on these two basic segmentations.

Before upgrading my account I was on the legacy version of AWeber, which is basically the same service, except I didn’t have as much power to segment my lists and consequently, beyond deciding which list I would broadcast too, I didn’t do much else. As a result, I generally hit all my newsletter with each message – a shotgun approach to email marketing.

Unfortunately (or really, fortunately) for me, my list is probably a bit larger than the average at AWeber, and with their new services came a new pricing structure, which meant I would pay more than five times per month than what I was previously, if I decided to upgrade. I eventually decided to bite the bullet because I know how good a service it is, how important my newsletter is to my business, and of course the primary reason – so I could test the new features.

Luckily for most of you reading this, if you are just starting out your email newsletter, the AWeber fee hasn’t really changed even for the new features. You’re still going to pay the very justified price of around the sub-$20 a month mark for a business-critical service. In my case, with some 40,000+ members of my newsletter, the fee is a little bit more.

In case you haven’t started your newsletter, here’s my review to help you decide whether AWeber is right for you – AWeber Email Autoresponder Review.

Now let me explain how I made use of the new features and how you can implement these advanced email marketing techniques…

The Problem With The Shotgun Approach

As you probably realize, the shotgun approach isn’t the best. It gives you maximum spread, but you miss a lot more than you hit. So in the case of email marketing, only a small percentage of my total newsletter members would open and read my emails and then an even tinier percentage of those people would click the link in the email.

In my case I have two specific goals with my newsletter

  1. Foster and maintain a healthy relationship with my newsletter members
  2. Stimulate an action from my subscribers

The problem with the shotgun approach is I might do okay with convincing some of my readers to click the link, but I may also damage the relationship I have with a lot of the other readers who do not.

Simply put – there’s no way every single email I send out is going to be of value and interest to every single subscriber I have. With the power of segmentation, you can zero in on those newsletter members who show interest, without annoying the members who did not.

It also allows you to test different angles with your message, so if something doesn’t work on a segment of your list, you can test a different message on just that segment.

Now, this all might sound manipulative, trying to convince people to do something so you make money, and yes, that’s part of the goal of marketing, but we are also attempting to match what people want with what you have to offer and avoid as much mismatching as possible.

When done right, this form of marketing is beneficial to everyone. People who joined your newsletter for a certain type of information receive what they want, and people who don’t are not bothered with repeat messages about something they do not want.

Of course you can’t please all of the people even with segmentation and in almost all cases you will have people unsubscribe from your newsletter after every email you send, but it can be a very small percentage of of your newsletter members, and probably people who really shouldn’t be on your newsletter anyway.

List segmentation allows you to move away from a shotgun approach to email marketing and refine your messages to a more precise and targeted delivery of your content.

The end result of this process is achieving both goals I mentioned above – more people taking the action you want, which of course will lead to more sales and thus more profits, and a strengthening of the relationships you have with the members of your newsletter.

So How Do You Segment Your List?

I’ll illustrate how I recently segmented my list to show you what is possible. In this case I wanted to inform my subscribers of a product launch – PPC Classroom 2 – which you may have seen mentioned on this blog last week as well.

As part of this launch a short report and some videos were given away, so as always I prefer to offer something valuable for free rather than ram a sales pitch down people’s throats, plus it helped that this report was from a person actually making several million dollars a year online, so it was coming from a credible source.

However, as is almost always the case, I tend to annoy some people when I promote something to my newsletter as an affiliate for that product. Some people don’t like you trying to make money from your work (it should all be free just because), or they don’t like the manner in which you do so. I accept this will happen, it’s part of the process of being an affiliate marketer, however there is an underlying concern here – not everyone wants this information.

With some segmentation of my email broadcasts I was able to do the following –

  • Send the offer multiple times without annoying people who didn’t want to know about it
  • Test two different angles to improve response
  • Promote the affiliate product only to those who clearly were interested

Here’s how I did this –

  1. My first message was sent to my entire newsletter, except a few unrelated lists
  2. A second message was sent with a completely different headline and email copy (a different angle/split test) only to those who never opened the first message
  3. A third message promoting the product when it went on sale was sent only to those who clicked the link in the first and second emails

Here’s a little screen grab from my AWeber account to show you some of the data –

Inside my AWeber account

I could do a lot more than this but I was traveling around the world at the time this was happening, so I wasn’t exactly glued to the computer. However, just using this three step email segmentation, I was able to stimulate a response from more of my members by showing them two different messages and I only promoted a product to those who might be interested.

Underlying Motivations

What’s important to understand here is that how an offer is presented, and in the case of email newsletters this simply means what words you use, dramatically impacts how people react.

I might have the best piece of information for my members, but if I describe the benefits to them in the wrong way, or focus on the wrong benefits, then they will pass it by. Split testing, or in this case, sending a different messages to the unresponsive group, allowed me to present the same content with a different story, highlighting different benefits.

Another key point is that in order to sell something in volume you need to talk about it more than once.

For the products I really like, I will mention them in as many as seven contact points (multiple blog posts, email newsletters, twitter tweets, etc). To talk about one product even twice without totally annoying a good chunk of your newsletter members is a challenge withe the shotgun approach. You only want to talk so much about a product to the people who are still very much interested and actually want the additional information about it. The more targeted an audience you have, the better.

In the example I just went through, I could have sent another email or two. One email a week later when the product was about to go off the market sent to those who opened and clicked the link in my third message, would have been a good idea, but I was busy in Scotland when this was happening, so let it pass. I generally don’t like to “push” something too much and like to be sure I have content-only (no affiliate product) messages to break things apart in my newsletter sequence. That’s just a personal choice though, many email marketers will use every message just to promote a product.

This Will Deliver Results

I don’t have a way to compare whether segmenting my newsletter in the manner that I did was better than if I did not, and the results of this affiliate marketing campaign were not particularly better than others I have done, but I feel confident there would have been a difference, and segmentation was worthwhile.

For one thing, this particular product launch offered prizes for both sales and the number of people you convinced to subscribe to their list (obviously a great way to boost their newsletter growth). As a result of how I segmented my list I helped more of my readers by showing them a great free resource (the free report and videos), using two different messages to get a higher opt-in rate, helping me with the affiliate competition, and also avoided “annoying” the people on my list not interested in this particular information.

The three emails and one blog post written promoting this campaign netted around $3,000 in commissions, some of which is a monthly recurring income, and a new 40in Sony LCD TV in the affiliate competition. I hope that for at least someone on my newsletter who joined the program promoted this time, that they go on to make a lot of money thanks to the training offered, but that outcome is of course out of my hands.

Take That Extra Step

The process of email newsletter segmentation I just revealed is part of what makes Conversion Blogging so successful. On the surface, as I presented in the video on Conversion Blogging, the system is simple, but underneath when you start to take a look at what is going on, you begin to see the few smart steps – steps most people never take – that help improve your performance way beyond the average.

This article outlines a tactic that if you begin to implement, will offer an incremental increase to your bottom line and help you move closer to earning a full time income online.

This stuff is powerful – I know it is because in October 2008 it’s helped me bring in over $30,000 USD just from promoting THREE quality products to my email newsletter and blog. This does not include any other monies earned from blogging or my membership sites (I think the total for October 2008 if I did the math would be over $80,000 – and October was the month when the financial meltdown occurred around the world!).

I don’t say this to gloat – I hope it only motivates you – and it certainly blows me away that this is possible, especially as I do most of it from hotels and apartments from around the world. The tools are available and the techniques are there if you study and implement them (I just gave you a great one for free!), you just have to go out there and do it.

Here’s to your Internet business success,

Conversion Blogger