When it comes to improving email open rates, boosting click-through rates, and decreasing unsubscribed rates, email segmentation is a great place to start.

Segmentation is the process of breaking up an email list into smaller groups, or segments, in order to send targeted emails. Visitors’ preferences are never static, so you should ask the following questions to help you get started:

  1. What are your segmentation goals?
  2. What do you want to achieve with direct marketing (email and text) to each segmented list?
  3. How do you review your segments on a regular basis?

Almost everyone understands why we need to send personalized emails. In fact, we’re happy when someone fills out an online form and an email is sent out with the recipient’s name included.

This, however, would not work if the name was entered in lowercase letters on a form submission. “Hello john” is one of the chinks in automation that a good Church Relationship Management (CRM) platform should auto-correct. I personally advocate using Salesforce CRM (which offers 10 free license for churches) as a way to optimize and automate.

Email segmentation goes beyond name fields. It’s the field mapping with our CRM that’s critical. It should be the visitor’s behavior, not just the data they enter into forms that determines engagement. A big part of my strategy is data integration. By using the best CRM, I want to ensure the right email is sent to the right person at the right time. I am not a fan of multiple lists being maintained either. When someone is deceased, you do not want to be sending emails to them because your records are not tied to your CRM.

Sending relevant content to your audience can be tricky if you don’t segment your email distribution lists correctly. That’s why legacy lists are often challenging to work with, since you may not know the audience.

Using automation rules that are based on the visitor’s behavior and a specific Call-To-Action (CTA) can help you avoid writing multiple emails, and allow you to target abandoned CTAs. Those who are interested in your content need to be nurtured back to your website.

It is important to create segmentations using a prioritization technique. I help churches segment their email lists into groups that share the same characteristics. I also help churches create workflows that send emails through automation.

Knowing that effective segmentation will result in a higher click-through (open) rate, you may begin by considering five things:

  1. Send out an annual survey at the beginning of each year. Even if 20% of your legacy list responds, you will get valuable insights for segmentation.
  2. Look at demographic segmentations (age, family status).
  3. Segment online and on-site audiences based on their geographic location (country, city, zip code).
  4. Segment groups based on psychographics (life goals, hobbies).
  5. Segment lists that reflect different behaviors (browsing habits, sign-up habits, campaign conversions, and loyalty).

Take a look at the analytics of your Church emails. You might be surprised by the low number of people opening your emails, and discover that segmentation is a weakness you need to address.

If you’re not a type-A person, consider recruiting a volunteer to help you create and maintain your segmentation lists, to avoid managing engagement through disorganized email lists!

As your church continues to grow, you will need to engage your members for both retention and spiritual formation. Therefore, make it your goal to segment your emails and implement an effective CRM to increase ROR (Return on Relationship). That is why email segmentation matters.

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