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The Basics of Email Marketing: Marketing Segmentation

One of the biggest mistakes businesses make when it comes to email marketing is sending one generic email out to their entire database rather than segmenting their contacts and crafting unique marketing messages for each. Think about it: Most companies have multiple products and services and customers of different ages, locations, and interests. So, it would be nearly impossible for a single email to capture the engagement of all the contacts in your entire database. This is why marketing segmentation is crucial to any successful marketing strategy.


What Is Marketing Segmentation?

Marketing segmentation is the process of grouping your audience into different lists or categories based on certain characteristics. Similarly to how your business should have a target market of certain customers you want to work with, your email marketing strategy should also be targeted to the specific needs and wants of the people within your target market. Once you segment your database into various lists, you can then create more tailored, impactful emails for each of those different audiences that will speak to their specific interests and keep them engaged with your business.

Two of the most basic ways to segment your database is to divide your contacts into their various buyer personas or segment them based on where they are in the buyer’s journey. For example, to segment your contacts based on where they are in the buyer’s journey, you would group all your contacts into those in the awareness stage, those in the consideration stage, and those in the decision stage. Someone who has visited your website only a few times and maybe downloaded an ebook would be in the awareness stage. They are likely not ready to make a purchase and are just collecting information, so your emails to that group should be very high level and focused solely on providing them with helpful information until they move into the next stage of the buyer’s journey. Someone who is in the decision stage, on the other hand, is ready to make a purchase, and more sales-focused emails would be appropriate for this group.

These are just a couple of examples of where you could start with marketing segmentation. There are lots of ways to think about segmentation, so the key is finding out which types make the most sense for your business.


Types of Market Segmentation 

In order to deliver the most impactful marketing messages to your contacts, businesses should enable one or more of the following types of segmentation:


Demographic Segmentation

Demographic segmentation groups contacts based on who your buyers are. This involves dividing your contacts into various demographics, including

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Income
  • Location
  • Ethnicity

For example, let’s say your business has locations in California and New York. By segmenting your contacts by location, you could develop one marketing message that would be relevant for your contacts on the west coast and one that would be more relevant to those on the east coast.  


Psychographic Segmentation

Psychographic segmentation groups customers based on why your buyers buy from you. Using psychographic data, you can group customers who share similar characteristics and really get a sense of your customers’ purchasing habits. Some examples of psychographic segmentation include:

  • Socioeconomic status
  • Personality traits  
  • Values and interests
  • Religious affiliation
  • Priorities


Behavioral Segmentation

Behavioral segmentation focuses on the behavior of your different customers, such as

  • Social media preferences
  • Brand loyalty
  • Shopping habits

When using behavioral segmentation, consider questions such as,

  • Which of your customers prefer using LinkedIn, and which prefer Facebook?
  • How do customers most often engage with your brand?
  • Which customers make purchases online versus in person?

Your email content should reflect those preferences, so your customers feel more connected to your brand. Behavioral information can be especially helpful when developing an email marketing strategy because some businesses find that their target market rarely engages with marketing emails at all. In this case, they need to figure out an entirely different digital marketing strategy to engage with their contacts!

All of these segmentation strategies may sound great, but how do you actually go about segmenting your leads and customers?


How to Segment Your Database

Once you’ve decided on the perfect way(s) to segment your leads and customers, you need to figure out how you’re going to get them segmented. There’s always the tedious process of manually dividing out your contacts into various Excel sheets (No, thank you!), but if you’ve got a CRM like HubSpot, there are several tools you can utilize that make the process easy.



HubSpot allows you to create your buyer personas directly in the platform. You simply enter information for each of your personas, such as their demographics, goals, and challenges, and then you can name each persona and even upload a picture that represents them well. Then, you’ll create a defining feature for each persona that you can use on the form fields on your website pages so that when someone fills out a form on your website, they’ll automatically get bucketed into the appropriate segment. You can then choose to send specific emails to certain personas.



HubSpot’s list tool is invaluable to the email marketing process. What lists you select in the recipients area of the email tool determines who receives a specific email. With the list tool, you can create lists that will automatically and continually generate the contacts who took very specific actions on your website, such as

  • Filling out a specific form on your site
  • Opening a certain email that you sent
  • How they entered your database, like social through media

By keeping your contacts organized with the list tool, you’ll always be able to easily select which contacts should receive which of your marketing emails.


Lead Scoring 

The lead scoring feature in HubSpot is a great tool for automating segmentation based on your audience’s level of engagement with your company. You can set a score based on various criteria, including

  • How frequently they visit your website
  • How many emails they have opened or clicked on
  • How many times they’ve viewed a specific page of your website

The lead scoring tool enables you to see who in your database is most interested and engaged with your business, so you can determine the best candidates for more sales-focused emails, as opposed to those who may need more nurturing emails to move them through the sales funnel before they’re ready to make a purchase decision.  


The Benefits of Marketing Segmentation

Now that you understand how you can segment your contacts, you may be wondering why it’s important and whether you should even take the time to do it. The fact is that when you send out more customized content to your various market segments, you can better connect with your leads and customers, fuel higher levels of engagement, and ultimately make more sales!

One of the most important components of an inbound marketing strategy is quality content. When it comes to email marketing, this means sending out timely and relevant information. This is only possible if you have a strong segmentation strategy in place because all of your contacts are going to have different interests and will be in different stages of the buyer’s journey at different times. If your company wants to increase interest and sales among your leads and customers, segmentation is key!

Marketing segmentation is clearly one of the most important aspects of any strong email marketing strategy. Whether you categorize contacts by demographics, psychographics, behavioral segmentation, or a mix of all three, you are sure to see better open and click rates and improve your business’s bottom line!

For more tips on email marketing, keep an eye out for more of The Basics of Email Marketing or check out another blog post!

Learn How To Boost Email Open Rates

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