How To Segment Your Subscribers When You Run A Blog Business

By Yaro Starak
33 Comments

I was reading Dee’s recent article in his customer segmentation series where he talked about how to segment your blog readers.

One of his main premises was the difference between a person who leaves a comment, or many comments and those who don’t. I agree with Dee that these are possible options for segmenting your blog readership, but I want to expand on his piece and give some examples of my own attempts to segment my readership over the years.

Blogging For Profit

One of the key distinctions that must be discussed before looking at how to segment your blog readership, is the reason why you are aiming to do this in the first place.

In my case, and very likely your case too, we want to segment our readers so we can achieve the following goals –

  1. Make money, often from promotional content (affiliate links and your own products)
  2. Do so without alienating your audience

The challenge is always how to find a way to commercialize a blog without diluting the value of the reason people come to the blog in the first place. Often the commercial intent can be blended with the content, so you can satisfy both needs, however segmentation can take this process even further, ensuring only those who are interested in certain types of content receive it, and those who are not, don’t.

To achieve this outcome you need to figure out the following -

  1. A means to identify each group by specific criteria relevant to your goals
  2. Once identified, a means to segment and continue communication with each group separately

I’ve always found it difficult to use only your blog content to accurately segment readers into different groups. Sometimes you just want to make sure as many people read your content as possible with no sales message, where at other times you want to make as many sales as possible, but not turn away readers who don’t want to buy.

The people who buy are a tiny percentage of your entire audience, so if you spend all day promoting to everyone, eventually you will lose your audience, unless you can find a way to bring in a continuous stream of new people who replace those you lose. Ideally we want to maximize both audience retention and growth, and maximize profit too.

Segmentation Options

Dee mentioned how I use text, audio podcasts and video on this blog and this is one way to segment my readership. This is true, but in terms of commercial intent (the goal of making money), I don’t segment my readership using these formats, this is merely an attempt to maximize the amount of people I can reach using different media.

That’s the same reason why I have brought on more writers to this blog. With more than ten people now contributing their unique ideas and experiences, Entrepreneurs-Journey.com has grown beyond me to point where I don’t feel like it is just “my” blog anymore.

We could segment our audience based on authors, or subject, or media format, or the time of day people read or what country they come from, and it would be great to know all this about my audience, but I’ll be honest with you, I found it way too difficult to figure out all this data and come out with methods to segment each group. It’s just too much and too difficult using the format of a blog. I feel it is always best to give all my content to all my readers.

That was until the day I made one change.

I added an email newsletter to my blog.

Why My Newsletter Forced Me To Think About Segmentation

Many, many, many times I’ve been asked on coaching calls –

Which content should I put in my newsletter and which for my blog?

The distinction isn’t always clear to people since they are both content delivery mechanisms.

When I started my first newsletter I knew one thing: I was creating a newsletter to filter people into a group who were interested in one specific thing, so eventually I could sell them something.

Here’s a key difference between a blog and an email newsletter (at least in 99% of the cases). Blogs do not require a person opts-in. There is no action to take to read the content, you simply find it and consume it. An email newsletter or email list asks a person to “opt-in”, by presenting some kind of offer, a reason why and what they will receive in return.

You can blog away happily for a long time not worrying too much about the specific nature of your topic, as long as you stick to a specific area, and feel your way to a target market. When you start your newsletter, you have to decide the offer you are making, which very much dictates the type of subscriber your attract. This is in fact, the very first point of segmentation, taking a generic website visitor and turning them into a person who has expressed interest in a certain type of information.

That first filter is a powerful segmentation step. It tells you that someone is willing to join your list to get what you offer.

When I first brainstormed ideas for my email newsletter I considered two variables –

  1. What I thought my audience were interested in.
  2. What I felt I could deliver to them based on what I had done and knew about.

My decision was to launch a blog traffic tips newsletter, which was added to my blog when I did a redesign to include an opt-in form. My newsletter from that point forward was my first ever attempt at segmentation with commercial intent. I know had a readership and a list of “prospects”, people who had stuck their hand up to show interest in one specific topic.

This was very helpful when it came to deciding what content went where as well. From then on I wrote a series of weekly emails specifically related to blog traffic (in fact most of my articles about how to build a great blog went into my email list initially, not my blog), while my blog became a place to talk more about my experiences as an entrepreneur, including how my current businesses were going.

How I Segment My Audience Today

For me, email has always been a much easier tool to segment, even with just a basic autoresponder.

I use the AWeber email autoresponder (read my review here – AWeber Review), which has some simple to use segmentation tools, including –

Multiple Lists

The ability to create multiple lists, so you can make different offers to create different segments. For example my list of people who want to make money with blogs is one list and those who want to learn more about membership sites is another. I have others for things like my coaching programs and even for sponsors who want to advertise on my blog.

This is an important segmentation tool, because you can use different lists for different levels. I have people on prospect lists (never purchased, but opted-in for free content) and customer lists (made a purchase). I can mail these lists individually, or pick and choose which ones I combine or even exclude.

One good way to use this tool is to mail your prospects special offers for your products, but exclude people who already have purchased those products. You can also choose to send affiliate promotions only to certain groups depending on what you are promoting and how valuable that list is to you (for example you may not want to promote affiliate products too heavily to your paying customers to keep them focused on your products).

Segmentation Based On Action

Another tool within AWeber allows you to segment based on an action, for example someone clicking a link in an email, or if they opened the email or not.

There are many ways to use this, but I primarily use it to reduce my unsubscribe rate when it comes to affiliate promotions. Affiliate promotions rarely interest your entire list, but for the segment that does show interest, you want to make sure they are mailed several times.

Often I email my entire prospect list an email related to a product, then segment the list into people who opened the email (usually around 10%-20%). I then send the segment the followup emails about that same product, for example when the closing deadline is coming soon. By doing this I don’t send multiple emails about the same launch to people who don’t want it.

I’ve also used this function to send a different email with a new subject line to the group who didn’t open the first email to see if I can get their attention. The email subject is such a critical variable when it comes to email marketing, so having this tool is like a “second chance” to mail about the same thing, without annoying the group who opened the first.

Segmentation Based on Location

One other nifty tool is the ability to mail only certain countries. I’ve emailed my Australian subscribers details about events in Australia, which excluded everyone else for obvious reasons. My Australian portion of my list is only about 10%, so being able to mail this group specifically is helpful, especially without annoying the rest of my peeps.

A Good Autoresponder Is A Must

As you can know doubt tell, having an email autoresponder that allows you to control these different elements is pretty powerful. Don’t forget you also get statistics about all these actions too, so simply by taking the steps to segment your email lists you can learn a lot about your subscribers.

If you don’t already have an account, I strongly recommend you try out AWeber now. I’ve been using them for five years and I couldn’t have done what I do without my email list –

www.aweber.com

Simple Segmentation

The main reason I focus my customer segmentation on email marketing and not my blog is that I find it much simpler that way. My blog isn’t the tool I use to segment people as much as it is the tool I use to capture attention initially.

I actually see my blog more like a magazine and database of training content. The writers here at Entrepreneurs-Journey.com give you daily training and insights into our businesses. If you want more from any of us, you can visit the respective site and join the email list if available. That’s the same for Entrepreneurs-Journey and my training. If you want to learn more about making money with blogs, then you opt-in for the Blog Profits Blueprint and are then exposed to further training about that subject as well as related promotions.

Segment Your Advertising

The one area where the blog itself is great for segmentation is Sponsored advertising. However most bloggers don’t take advantage of it.

CarAdvice.com.au (founded by my friend Alborz Fallah), only makes money from advertising, and a heck of a lot of it (millions a year now). They make so much because they segment the sponsors based on the content and charge a premium price for targeting. In fact their only monetization method is advertising, hence they’ve become very good at it.

For example Toyota might choose to place their banners only on the Toyota related content, or even sneakier, only on content about their competitor’s vehicles. By doing this they are ensured of having a very targeted reader for their advertisements.

If you have a product related blog, this kind of segmented sponsorship might be a great idea.

Segment With Purpose

Segmentation is definitely powerful and I hope this article, and Dee’s ongoing series on customer segmentation, give you plenty of ideas for how to segment in your online business.

Don’t forget the two most important rules –

  1. Segment with a purpose in mind – how can what you are doing help improve relationships with your customers and make you more money
  2. Keep it simple – there are countless segmentation options available, but only a few steps are enough to make a difference that matters

Good luck!

Yaro Starak
Segmented

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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33 Comments

  • Yaro, I appreciate your insight into selling primarily through your newsletter.

    But, I wanted to ask what your ratio of content to sales messages were within that newsletter. Generally I hear people stick to the Pareto Principal (80:20).

    Thanks for your feedback,
    Chase

    • Chase – I don’t have a strict ratio, I’ve always followed a simple process where I release content at least once a week automatically using the follow-up function and sometimes release one extra email of content if something good on my blog came out, which I link to in the newsletter.

      When there is a product launch going on that I think is worth following, I will send that out as well, which used to be about once a month, but that’s less frequently now.

      The 80/20 ratio is a good rule to follow, but even better is when you can promote with content. You can also follow a 10% within content rule, ending content with relevant promotions.

      • Yaro,

        Funny enough, my company is launching this exact type of newsletter for social media managers (similar to EarlyToRise.com). We intend to offer up the best information from experts in the Social Media and Internet Marketing industries and help these experts sell their products at the end of their content piece.

        Usually I’d wait to propose this type of venture to an expert like yourself, but I thought this might be an excellent time to chime in with our proposal.

        I’d like to invite you to join us on this new venture if you have any interest in participating. (Which would require very little effort / time investment on your part but allow you to distribute your content and sales messages to other experts’ readership).

        I’ll give you a hint… you’ll get more mileage out of your *archives*

        Look forward to hearing your thoughts.

        Kindest Regards,
        Chase Sherman

        • I’m not sure exactly what you are talking about here Chase.

          When I refer to content with marketing I simply mean delivering a lesson then guiding people to a related product at the end or within the lesson.

          Tell me exactly what your service does and I can tell you whether I would use it.

          • Well, our service is an inbox magazine (another name for newsletter… BUT, with a very big distinction…) focused on helping managers, entrepreneurs and employees navigate the social media education landscape. (http://www.businesstooligans.com/newsletter)

            With our readership, we’d like to serve up articles produced by experts in the social media, Internet marketing, and small business education realms and expose them to crucial information (and products) that would be useful for their online marketing activities. This would allow them to leverage the best knowledge from the most valuable experts.

            Our theory is that with the right tools and resources, our subscribers will learn to work smarter, not harder.

            …I’m sure you’re always looking for more people to help promote your message. Since we’re both in the business of social media, we know that our readership will be very receptive to your information and products.

            My intention with reaching out to you is to ask if you’d allow us to promote your products and include your personal blog archives in our daily newsletter, #SMMGR Magazine.

            An example of our newsletter is mapped out below…

            —————————————

            1. Editor’s introduction

            —————————————

            2. Advertisement:

            EXAMPLE – Choose the Size of Your Check

            This isn’t some get-rich-quick trick. This isn’t some work-from-home scam.

            This is, quite simply, an investing loophole that allows you to sit back and grow your money many times faster than you can in the bank, by making bets on the gold bubble, or by hoping the stock market avoids its overdue correction.

            In fact, this loophole is so powerful… when you know how to use it, YOU get to pick the size of the check you get sent each month.

            Click here for the details.

            —————————————

            3. Quote related to main article written by expert author (you, for example)

            —————————————

            4. Article written by expert (blog post from your archives that’s still relevant today)

            —————————————

            5. Author bio w/ Editor’s note:

            EXAMPLE –

            [Ed. Note: Daniel Levis is a top marketing consultant, direct-response copywriter, and publisher of the highly acclaimed marketing periodical Persuasion Mastery Club. Get a full month of Persuasion Mastery Club (a $78 value) FREE! No credit card required. Just sign up here.

            Listen in while Daniel grills one of the masterminds behind what is arguably the biggest info-product success story in the history of direct marketing. In The Doctor’s Book of Home Remedies, Michael Fishman spills his most cherished secrets on everything from envisioning an info-product idea… to developing it through systematic research… to validating it with small-scale tests… and, ultimately rolling it out for juicy profits!

            Click here for free access to the mp3 and transcript of this priceless interview and a bonus edition of Daniel’s Persuasion Mastery Club premium e-letter.]

            —————————————

            6. Quick Tip

            —————————————

            7. END

            Here are the benefits to the subscriber:

            * Don’t have to deal with annoying banner ads pulling focus away from info…

            * Don’t have to reread what they just opened because Facebook notifications distracting them…

            * Don’t have to waste more time looking for the right information…

            * Don’t have to sort through the false information littered across the web…

            * Don’t have to filter through outdated information that doesn’t work anymore…

            * Don’t have to go on the web to get the information they need…

            If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate. I’d be happy to answer them.

            Best,
            Chase

          • Hey Chase, you are welcome to use any of my articles from my blog archives as long as you credit this blog as the source.

            No need to ask me, just go for it. If you want to feature one of the other EJ writers, better ask them first.

          • Awesome. I appreciate it, Yaro.

      • Hey Yaro,

        Thanks for posting on this. I’m already an Aweber user but have not yet tried segmenting my list. Based upon what you’ve written here, I plan on giving it a try. I can’t speak for your other readers of course, but another post that show’s (with some screenshots?) exactly how you do it would save me (and others?) a whole bunch of time.

        I will say that I’ve been experimenting with lightboxes and split testing and the resulting increases in my optins have been amazing.

        Trent

  • Decent post but can you provide some more free contents that will explain how to maintain relationship with you customers through newsletter as I’m new to internet marketing.

    Thanks!

    • Hi Russell, I suggest you hit the “Articles” link in my navigation bar and go to the category called “email marketing” category.

      You will find more than enough information there to keep you busy for a while.

  • Thanks for a great post, Yaro. Chase, I did a post about emailing your list and I believe that you should stick to agreed-upon email intervals (if you said once a week, don’t email them every 2 days) and to give concrete tips and advice in each and every email. If your emails are informative, people will see you as trustworthy and they will buy.

    • Ana, thank you for the helpful tips. I appreciate the feedback.

  • I fully agree with you Yaro. There’s not much point to segment at blog’s level: format, devices or IP’s don’t provide much critical business info

    The segmenting abilities of aWeber (or Mailchimp or Campaign Monitor) are still pretty basics, if compared with serious data mining solutions.

    I would love to get from a single query a list of 5 stars customers for a TOPIC (based on open & clics rates of last 20 newsletters for example). That would make my life much easier. I guess it requires a kind of tagging of the links (by TOPICS). That would be more powerfull than a single opt-in segmentation. Thta would true, repeated, ongoing, 100% user based.

    Don’t get me wrong, a blog without list is no business.

    It’s just that I wish Email providers could offer a bit more. The point for me is not to get thousands of new subs each month (well, I wouldn’t mind it neither), but my feeling is that current list are under-used, and if the content that is delivered is great, the main reason is because of the lack of segmenting facilities.

    Each time I’ve used segmenting in emails, I’ve double open & clic rate. But currently, truth is that it’s very time consuming for produce the right segments. For a business like yours, I imagine that an addicional 10% of clics on your campaign has a big impact on your bottom line.

    Are you using one main list and segments or groups or do you actually run several list in that main blog (I am not referring to the lists you’ve built when launching products). By experience, it can be messy to deal with multiple lists. Any insights in there would be apreciate.

  • Franck, quite right, I’d also like to have more control over segmenting of my subscribers as by list is not the best way to do it necessarily.

    Although I have not used the system, Infusionsoft apparently have a much better segmenting system. Instead of having lists users are “tagged” based on actions. You can then filter by tag, giving you control all the way down to the user level, not just the list level.

    I’m not sure I would use the extra control right now, but if I was to advance my business I know this is a step I will need to take eventually if I continue to rely on email as much as I do.

    My hope is that Aweber expands their options as I’d rather not make the change right now. I don’t want to go through the learning curve of a new email system.

    To answer your question – I have about ten different lists, but two main lists that make up 90% of my subscribers, both of which are off the back of my two main free reports.

  • Quite frankly, segmentation is not as easy as what most people would love to think. I mean list subscribers always adds up and aside from that they constantly change. So its not like you can create this segment, put a bunch of people their and leave it as it is. You always need to allocate time to analyze your subscribers and where they’re currently to as far as segmenting is concern.

    I would say Aweber is kind of like limited in helping you do it extensively and even with expensive tools like Infusionsoft, popular marketers like Frank Kern still makes mistakes with emailing a subscriber twice with the same message so I guess its a continuous refining process for us which can be labor-intensive. But nevertheless, great writeup. I know I was able to picked lots of takeaways here.

    • Right Melvin, and there is always more you can segment. It really depends how much time and resources you have.

      I think as a one person blogger or information publisher just following the 80/20 rule and segmenting based on prospects, customers and offers is a good start, which you can accomplish easily enough with AWeber.

  • Yaro, what an excellent message! I don’t feel like I’ve reached the point in my blog’s lifecycle where I can even entertain segmentation yet, I get decent traffic, but not enough conversions to warrant moving to that level.

    I’ll definitely be going through Dee’s series that you recommended though, it’s definitely food for thought!

    • Jamie, you can pretty much begin segmenting as soon as you add an email newsletter, and to be honest that is the first thing I would do as soon as your blog is set up. The sooner you build the list, the sooner you have subscribers to segment.

  • Yaro, that was defnitely a good read. I like your blog because I always find here NEW and USEFUL content. Hope we can meet one day, when I will become millionare too :)

    • Thank you Radislav, I appreciate the kind feedback :-)

  • Hey Yaro, nice to be the subject of one your post! You are quite right, segmentation only works if you a purpose and finding that purpose really helped me to define what it was I actually did.

    To E-J readers: The third part of my series is out Tuesday on this blog. In it I will give some great reallife case study examples of how people segmented customers on their blogs and within their business (not as difficult as it sounds).

    I’m also going to give some interesting answers to ‘how often you should mail your list’. That’s Tuesday on this blog!

    At lastly, as I have mentioned in this weeks article, if there is only one thing you take from this series, it is that you should learn how to treat your best people special. I’ll be giving you some great tips in part three to help you achieve this. 99.9% of marketers do not do it, but they should…

    • No problem Dee, thanks for the stimulation for an article.

      Segmentation is an interesting topic, one that I think many people can benefit from learning more about so I’m glad you are looking at it in such depth.

  • Your Message Yaro! Great Article. You right on with the news letter. This is a must to deepen your relatioship with your visitors by offering more value. Peopl will buy from people they like and trust.

  • Great read!

  • Very nice post great read. Lots of great information looking forward to more of your posts :)

    -Luke

  • Great post Yaro! Love the info you are sharing… This is a really good read and a great source of information…

    Thanks for sharing…

  • Hi Moreno here , it’s the first time a visit your blog , very informative and interesting. i read about e-mail marketing segmentation above and i have to read it again because ther’s a lot of great info into your post. Segmentation it’s essential to have good result with the list but sometime even me i open mail with other topic then the ususal one i’m interested . not that far as dog training , because i’m into I.M. but not only e-books and soft . I love new info that help me discover and open new door , i guess this probably happen to everybody. i will bookmark your blog .thank you

  • I have never even thought about segmenting my readers. This is some interesting information that i will have to look further into. I guess I should read up on the other articles here such as the aforementioned one.

  • Hi Yaro,
    The other writers are interesting mate, but I still look forward to reading your posts the most. Nice post.

  • Yaro, thank you so much for this article. Segmentation is such an overlooked area of monetizing your blog site. It’s really like a filter or sales funnel…you use social media and other channels to get people to your site, you provide as much value as possible in your blog and on your site to get people to stay for as long as possible, and you secure that relationship with your readers somehow by providing an incentive for them to opt-in to your list. The segmentation part of it is the valuable link that’s going to take you from having that generated list to monetizing off that list. I have a blog site for artists and performers who are interested in promoting themselves online, creating a fan base and using their talent to make money online, so this has really been most helpful. Thank you once again!

  • It would be nice if Aweber would introduced additional tools for segmentation or maybe some type of scoring system where you can assign some type of score to your visitors and subscribers based on their actions for example they visited certain pages on website, click certain links in email it would provide insights on what they interested in and how you should communicate with them to achieve best results.

  • Yaro:

    You hit it right on the money. In my case I want to segment my list of online customers and blog readers to both increase traffic by converting online customers into blog readers, and make money from affiliate links. The challenge is to do so without alienating the list and turn away readers who don’t want to buy.

    One problem is that I have little detail about my customers. I can split the list into sites they bought on, and by what type of feedback they left or did not leave.

    So I guess the first step is to simply start and let loose 1-2 emails about a post on my blog tied into an affiliate’s offer. The post would be written to reflect an industry problem that everybody encounters and what my affiliate has done up with to overcome this.

    Not sure if this will work and I’ll certainly lose numbers due to attrition and folks opting out, but it seems to be the best approach I can come up with. Thx for helping me clarify the problem and the action I’ll take. As always your articles and podcasts are very helpful.

    Regards,

    John J. Ziemba
    Shake and Bake Trading Co

  • I have aweber and find it very user friendly email gathering auto responding tool, the segmenting strategy you iimplement is something worth looking into. Thank you so much for this post, and the way you keep things simple. Have a blessed day.

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