How Email Segmentation Made My List Stronger AND $31,940 More Profitable

Published by 59 Comments

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,

Yaro Starak
Conversion Blogger

About Yaro Starak

Yaro Starak is the author of the Blog Profits Blueprint, a report you can download instantly to learn how to make $10,000 a month, from only blogging 2 hours per day. You can find Yaro on Facebook, Twitter and .

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59 Comments

  • Hi Yaro,

    Great post. I have learned another good marketing strategy.

    Cheers
    Vincent
    Personal Development Blogger

  • On a technical note : isn’t the aweber software deciding which people opened the email based on technology that will always be innaccurate? People run mail programs which block reporting on tracking – therefore you will always be re-sending emails to the same person twice – even if they opened the first one?

    What does aweber say about this?

    • Use the open rate and click rate as an indication for tracking each of your mailing campaign and to allow continuous split test for your email broadcast.

      You use them for relative comparison, regardless of the accuracy.

  • This is amazing. The crisis had a negative impact on my business. I am glad that some people have a clear increase in revenues.

  • This is a really amazing feature Aweber decided to add to their services. Hopefully marketers will take notice of it, and use it to their advantages.

    Just a question, how many segmentations can you have? Only two?

  • Nice post Yaro. And it’s nice to see your income levels soaring. You’ve always been different when it comes to internet marketing and your newsletter always gives valuable information. And I am sure it’s just a matter of time when you’d be earning the same kind of money as the biggies like Mike Filsaime, Frank Kern or Joel Comm do, albeit in your own different way.

    One of the things which I wanted to ask was about the number of newsletter subscribers you have. The 40,000+ which you mentioned, is that the total number of subscribers you’ve got or you have a bunch of newsletters spread over different autoresponder services with a combined subscriber base of 100,000+ ( like the big names in the internet marketing world have ).

    Also, apart from the subscribe option here and on your blog mastermind sales page, do you have other opt-in landing pages ?

    • I have a few different lists and let’s not forget the RSS subscribers too – but you know, you can’t ask a person about the size of his list and expect him to give you a straight answer.

      I disclose a lot on this blog, but somethings you just have to keep private :)

      • You are right. I actually realized that immediately after posting the comment. he he :-)

        Yes, you do disclose a lot in this blog, no doubts about that. I look forward to more interesting posts from you.

      • Jo

        Among your other talents, and maybe one of your most important ones, is your ability to be honest and straightforward and at the same time be tactful.
        There’s more to be learned from your blog than just how to blog successfully. :)

  • Thank you. This is very useful information and I will make use of it.

  • Great write up Yaro, thank you for taking the time to put it together and share with the world. Definitely one of the best publicly available case studies that I’ve seen. We have lots of internal result metrics for customers using the advanced segmentation, but obviously we can’t talk about them unless customers either post their results publicly or give us permission to.

    Matthew C, you can have as many segments as you want/need, there are no limits.

  • Jeff

    I will pass on Aweber’s new system and pricing, because I have tons of mailing lists for my web site, that generates 21,000+ subscribers. With the old pricing plan I am paying $39.85 a month. With the new pricing plan I would pay $149 a month. I’ll stay put.

  • There’s been a whole lot of talk lately about new features aweber has. Looks like I’m going to have to just give in and sign up. :)

  • I am not using Aweber but GetResponse.

    So, I use different opt-ins and then can label the groups according to interests if they fill out additional forms.

    I won’t change for a while since I moved my list over not too long ago.

    What I find is that it takes at least three emails to get a response. Interesting that you mention seven. However, I haven’t do a lot of marketing yet via the newsletter but hope to being in 2009 so I find this post interesting.

    I think it is a great tool but I had a pretty large drop off in moving people over to a new autoresponder even with incentives.

    I’d be interested in hearing how you handle that in the future.

  • Thank you for the great information.
    You are always offering help in many ways.

  • This reminds me how I need to log in to my Aweber account from time to time and poke around… ;)

    • Jo

      Or sign up for their blog newsletter. They send out a lot of help, too.

  • Thanks for the post. This is great information and looks like a good way to make profits. I never new email marketing was so useful

  • You really go in depth into your marketing campaigns Yaro. I like that.

    By looking at your stats I can gauge and compare how effective my marketing campaigns are and tweak them.

    • A man must use someone else’s experiences in developing their business. This is a golden rule profitable business.

  • I use Aweber and is very happy with their service.Building a list is still something that only a few bloggers do, but should be every online marketers #1 priority.

  • My just now starting lists are small, so segmenting would be impractical. But maybe split testing for language or offers would be possible. Depends on the additional cost form Aweber to upgrade my account (I am not yet net positive from email/newsletters).

  • Congratulations on the huge increase of your earnings Yaro. Keep up the good work! This post helped me a lot especially on the proper use of autoresponders.

  • I have always thought about segmenting my list using this feature in Aweber, but haven’t tried it yet. I am glad to see that it worked so well for you. I will have to try out it in the near future. Great post…Stumbled…

  • Wow Yaro, very informative and inspiring. I think it is great what you are doing.

    I must comment on your little piece about how certain people become offended when you try to make money and profit from your work….I can understand when people become annoyed with some of the more aggressive marketers out there, but you are so value and content driven, that anyone who becomes upset with you over promoting a product must not really have an appreciation of the work that is required to do what you do.

    I can honestly say that I have been a subscriber to your newsletter for a while now, and I find that it is extremely valuable and filled with great content, almost like another small blog that you run. It is the only email newsletter that I read consistently. Thank you for all of the great content, you are the one who got me into blogging in the first place with the Blog Profits Blueprint.

    All the Best

  • Thanks Yaro for sharing, this is definitely something that I need to look more into.

  • [...] just the other day, AWeber user Yaro Starak talked about those very things on his [...]

  • Thank you so much for sharing you experience and wisdom! This is my first visit to your blog (I found you because I use aWeber and they just posted about you on their blog, which I subscribe to) and I love how generous you are with your tips and tricks. In fact, I wrote about you on my Solopreneurs blog/page. Thanks again!

  • My Note Taking Nerd

    This blog is frickn the best.

    Yaro is awesome and today’s article on segmentation is really good.

    Thanks yaro for continueing to help us all

    http://www.mynotetakingnerd.wordpress.com

  • To be super honest.

    I think it is not a good idea.

    You would have much more clicks and sales if you would send it to your whole list.

    Cheers!

    S.G.
    http://www.CopaModel.com

  • Man Yaro… how did I miss on this great tip?

    I’ve found about you via AWEBER’s blog mention…

    You got another chunk of free targeted traffic :)

    Do you pay for it? lol

  • I enjoyed this article regarding e-mail segmentation. The features that allow you to track “who opened your email and who clicked your links within the emails” is a powerful utility that helps support e-mail marketing principles. Alvira Khan, Florida Atlantic University, FAU Boca Raton Alumna, http://www.alvirakhan.com

  • Hi, thanks for the complete explanation.
    Is it possible to use the segmentation tool with the follow up mails ?
    If the subscribers don’t open mail #3, send special mail #4 3 days later, else, go directly to #5 10 days later… It seems imposible, but I just wanna check :-P

  • I’d like to offer a “How-To” article which shows you how to do this using Constant Contact, which uses a different approach to list management:
    http://www.yourezinecoach.com/2007/email-delivery-resending-an-email-to-non-openers.html

  • [...] the right answer, you CAN find the “most right” answer for each different promotion. Yaro explains how he segmented his list to focus only on those showing interest in his promotion that week: With [...]

  • An other great post. Thank you Yaro for sharing and this detailed explanation. I only have a very small list at the moment and I’m still working on building that list. As soon as I’ve a bigger list I also gonna upgrade my account.

    Daniel

  • Wow – great ideas, definitely mind stretching. I’ve been messing with how to segment on the Aweber basic account, will be implementing and testing to see how it improves response rates.

    And I’ll be watching you more closely too!

  • These trick actually worked but for those who dont really like to receive newsletter email, they will think as a spam, secondly, you need to make sure to whom do you send those email, if they like affiliate program, they will continue reading else got deleted. Overall i think its really a good way but try to be patience and don send email constantly

  • Shanika Journey

    I am very impressed with the Aweber’s email segmentation and how you have benefited from it. I was just trying to find a way to implement such a technique and you pretty much told me which autoresponder can help me with this.

    Nice article and thanks for the heads up on Aweber. This might be the autoresponder for me.

  • Email Marketing Tips – Edition 13

    Welcome to the thirteenth edition of email marketing tips on November 10, 2008.

    This week’s edition comes to you two days early. Better than late,… What do you think?

    My favorite article this week has been written by Yaro Starak, who exp…

  • cat

    Thanks for the information, interesting point of wiev about segmentation, very useful

  • Wow this is really cool. I’m with Getresponse, but haven’t really checked out if it also has these features. But this is some advanced stuff. Thanks for showing this.

  • Great insight here – something I had to learn the hard way.

    We’re in the motivation business so folks car be really hard on us if we send “non targeted” email. I notices the “broadcast” method caused unsubscribes from my lead list as well as my premium customer list. That’s no good. So, I segmented everything we send from http://www.motivationtomove.com and all of my problems went away – and my conversions went up.

    We use ListMailPro to handle the duties – it’s a little clunky but it works and we have control.

  • Great information here once again Yaro. I have been implementing some of tips you have given here and I am getting a higher conversion rate from my newsletter. All it was was asking a few more times without pushing too hard. Thanks!

  • You can’t beat the power of relevancy. In today’s world, it’s all the micro-niches that add up.

  • I forget what new system we are going to but it is much like what you are talking about, how we can send certain emails to certain members of our coupon club. Like if they do more silicone band than t shirts we can send them an email specifically about the new discounts on the silicone bracelets that we are offering just to them. It would be the same for all other topics and categories that we have. So I am really glad to hear that it has worked for someone else, in comparison, and that I can look forward to the increase profitability it can produce.

  • Hi Yaro,

    Pretty cool stuff…
    And as a subscriber to so many newsletters… Sure would be great if this was used by those people (Super-aff’s) that sends SO MANY emails about the same thing… and go on and on and on….

    I joined some lists because my interest was X
    But never got anything else than stuff about Y and buy this… hurry!

    So I will use this towards my own lists – Thanks mate!

  • Hey Yaro,

    I remember reading this post way back when – and i have no clue why It didn’t resonate with me at the time. It has probably cost me tens of thousands of dollars.

    It took Perry & Ryan’s new course to re-expose me to this tactic and finally make sense. I feel so dumb for not implementing this sooner. I put it into play this week and have had the best week ever.

    I guess you see what you look for.

    I promise to read every post over and over again until it sinks in.

    Thanks,

    Sean Malarkey

  • Yaro – I’m a little late in this conversation, but….

    So glad you’re talking about the power of email segmentation. I work with several online retailers that have thriving email programs by targeting their lists with the right message.

    Seems like Marketing 101, but many businesses are still missing the boat on this. Please get away from the batch and blast (one-size-fits-all approach). You’re leaving money on the table.

    You can see more of my thoughts on email here…no need to make excuses!!!
    http://www.onlinestorecoach.com/email-marketing-forget-the-excuses-1068.htm

    Thanks Yaro,
    David

  • Hello Yaro,

    Great stuff as usual. I did have one request (and maybe it’s worth a post?) and that is what is the best way to setup your lists internally inside aweber? In other words, I have multiple lists (various opt-in forms) that all get updated by one newsletter with a year’s worth of posts and a weekly rss update.

    I did this specifically so that all people would get the same content and since I don’t sell my ebook (I am working on one now) there is no conversion to track right now. So, long story short, how should you set up your lists within aWeber?

  • “Thanks for the information, interesting point of wiev about segmentation, very useful” I agree with you Cat. More segmentation is more specific target!

  • crises are always have bad impact .

    Thanks
    Misbah Mumtaz

  • [...] List segmentation really helps too. By sending consecutive messages only to people who indicated they were interested in something you offered (flagged by either by clicking a link or opening an email) you maintain the integrity of your list. This is because you don’t send repeat messages to people not interested in certain things. You can read more about how segmentation has helped increase my income here – How Email Segmentation Made My List Stronger AND $31,940 More Profitable [...]

  • Hey there! Would you mind if I share your blog with my zynga group? There’s a lot of folks that I think would really enjoy your content. Please let me know. Many thanks

  • Great information. I never really thought out how to segment my email list. I agree that the shoot gun approach works but does damage the relationship with some recipients. I really didnt expect many of my email list recipients to shine me off as spam but apparently they do, even when they double opt-in. Thanks for the truly great article.

  • Thanks for the great info.

  • Your email marketing tips are great, I didn’t know how email marketing was great way to increase relationship and income to you before reading this post. $30,000 USD just from promoting THREE quality products – are you kidding me???? I was impressed, you know, but I think the powerful is what you wrote in your email that would send to your subscribers. BTW, thanks for your great tips on email marketing that works, I really love and will try to do like you.

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