List segmentation is nothing new. It is one of the many carryover strategies from direct mail and just like with old school mailings, it works well with email marketing. The basic idea of list segmentation is to simply take your customer list and put your customers on different lists based on demographics, psychographics, geographics, buying habits, or any other way you can think of to group like minded people together. Once you have your segment built, you send them an email that speaks to whatever the primary focus of the segment may be.
Today, let’s look at segmenting customers based on where they are in the customer life cycle. In this case, we’ll look at customers who have just joined the list. Specifically, we’re looking at “new prospects” or people who have given you some basic information of theirs (i.e. their email address) so they can learn more about your company. Most of these are going to come with some sort of first time buyer discount, so you’ll likely want to include that discount code with your welcome email.
This is quite possibly the easiest of all lists to build and for most email software, the build is completely automated. When someone signs up for the first time or creates a new account, they’re going to be flagged as “new prospects”. All of these people should get an email that only goes to new prospects that speaks to the reason they signed up.
Most companies do this by sending out an email that looks something like this one I recently received from the folks over at Sock It To Me:
These are easy to create, although it should be noted that using a unique, single use code is preferable (rather than a generic code like the one used above), as it limits the exposure of the discount and makes it more difficult for customers to abuse the system.
Now here’s where it gets a little tricky. A decent chunk of your new sign ups are going to be paying customers. These are folks that just went right ahead and bought something without signing up to your prospect list first.
It is extremely important to segregate these people from your new prospects. If you send an email like the one above to someone who signed up via purchase instead of a savings prompt, contest, or other tactic, it is extremely counterproductive. There’s nothing that will piss a customer off more than getting a discount offer on something right after they just paid full price.
These folks should get something more along the lines of the email I discussed previously from the folks over at Stance socks. This is an introduction to the brand rather than a sales hook. Because the people in this group already bought something, you don’t want to send them a “welcome to our site, here’s a discount” email.
One of the biggest mistakes email marketers make with their welcome email is the decision to not make a “welcome series”. I’ve found that most companies have more to say about themselves and their products than one can put into a single welcome email.
Instead of just going one and done with your welcome email, consider sending out a timed series to help your customer gain a better grasp on the company and the brand.
Say I’m looking at a company like Tom’s. They have spent a ton of time and money over the years educating customers not only on their shoes, but on their background and social causes. When you sign up, they ask you to select from several social cause options so you can support your cause of choice with your purchase.
Instead of just doing a one and done welcome email, the company could follow a path like this:
- Welcome email with basic information and discount code
- Email that discusses the brand in detail and how their shoes are different.
- Email that discusses the social giving aspect of the company and how the customer purchase ties in to social giving (i.e. where the donation goes, how it works, why they do it)
- Email with discount code reminder and callback to their charity of choice (that they selected when they signed up)
This is a very simple, 4 step Welcome Email Series that works. Please take care to make sure to run a check on your list as they’re going through the 4 step process to see if they’ve placed an order before the last email goes out. If they have, simply remove them from the series after the 3rd email gets sent (all major email programs have this feature to do it automatically), so they aren’t reminded to use a coupon code that they already used.