Email Segmentation: The Four Pillars of Segmenting


Avoid the junk mailbox by segmenting your lists

Email segmentation is crucial to higher open rates and conversions. Providing the right message to your target audience is often what makes the difference in effective email marketing. There are lots of ways to segment your audience. Those typically fall into four categories: geographic, demographic, psychographic and behavioral. They can be considered the pillars of email segmentation. Let’s look at these more in depth.


There are many areas to look at within geographic pillar. Geographic is more than just your zip code. There are many conditions of location that impact consumers’ lives. The first segment of urban versus rural is very significant in understanding a buyer. People who live in the city versus the country have very different lives. City dwellers have access to much more than those in rural areas. Therefore, there’s much more competition for a city dweller’s attention. Whereas, a rural consumer may tend to shop more online because there is little access to brick and mortar locations.

Choosing to live in the city also may mean that a person works a professional job and has a higher education. Rural residents may have more manual jobs like factory work or farming.

Zip codes are important though. Looking at groups based purely on their zip code can provide a wealth of information. What do they have access to in the way of retail? What type of transportation might they take based on their location? The answers to these questions can help email marketers target better.

Climate is another topic under geographic. Those that live in cold weather areas have different needs than those that live in warm climates. They wear different clothes (winter coats versus swimwear). Different activities align with warm or cold weather (skiing versus water sports). They need different tools or items (snow blowers versus lawnmowers). That’s just looking at cold versus hot. There is also differentiation based on other climate attributes like dry, humid or wet. Those that live in the desert don’t need lots of lawn care accessories. Those that live in areas that experience lots of rain don’t need drought related supplies.

Market size is another segment of geographic. It’s a bit similar to rural versus city. However, it is different because city size matters. There are many areas considered metro; however, they can’t compete with the market size of Chicago. The larger the metro area, the additional assumptions that can be made for those that reside there.


Demographic data is the who part of the puzzle. This is where you’ll find age, income, gender and ethnicity. You may find it useful to segment based on age groups or generations because millennials have different needs than Baby Boomers. Gender may be another important tag if your products or service differ between the sexes. This data provides physical attribute information as well as their income bracket and therefore their spending power.


This segment deals with preferences, personality, interests and motives. It’s much easier to understand a buyer’s likes and dislikes in the 21st century. Think about the way a social media profile is set up. A profile is tied to what brands people like or their interests. This type of data can also be compiled by market research. This type of segmentation complements the other pillars of segmentation. Insights from psychographic segmentation enable email marketers to understand consumers’ decision-making processes better. Then email messaging can be more relevant.


This is the what of a target audience. It divides a group based on their behavior. The data related to consumer behavior can be very valuable. It’s what actions the consumer takes in their consideration and decision to make a purchase. This type of data is determined by what a consumer has purchased and drawing conclusions about future purchases. It can also be related to the time spent on a website or the pages visited. These are all macro actions taken that then turn into conversions or abandonment. In email marketing, you may have segmentation based on how a contact engaged with your email. Opening it may lead them down one channel. Not opening may lead them down another in a nurture campaign.

Email marketing is still a valuable channel

Email marketing is crowded. There is tremendous competition in the inbox. But with proper email segmentation you have a much better chance of breaking through the noise. When you have clearly segmented lists, you can create relevant messaging and purposeful design. Want to learn more about email marketing? Read our blog on B2B email marketing tips.