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Targeted mailing lists for e-commerce success

In this article, we will go into detail on how to take email marketing to the next level. Specifically, by using targeted mailing lists to refine your broadcasts and generate better results.

Despite the common misconception that it might be dead, email marketing is going strong and is possibly the most effective digital marketing effort your business can perform today.

Based on 2018 data, it still beats social media, SEO, and affiliate marketing in terms of being the most effective. However, to achieve this success you should understand the factors that contribute to an effective email marketing campaign. As such, we will look at one of the most important ones – targeted mailing lists.

These targeted lists are much more precise than your general subscribers list. They are narrowed down following specific criteria that represent your ideal customers and will allow you to easily tailor your message for them. 

First, let’s have an overview of what makes these targeted mailing lists such an important factor contributing to email marketing success. 

The advantages of a targeted mailing list

By sending out generic email campaigns you are most likely missing an opportunity to speak to your customers with a message that resonates with them.

Sending out that one-size-fits-all email might be easy. But it is also counterproductive as it has been observed that people unsubscribe from a mailing list if they receive too many irrelevant messages.

Targeted mailing lists are an answer to this, as they will help you reach out to your subscribers in a much more meaningful way. Simply put, a targeted mailing list is a mailing list segmented by specific criteria.

There are several benefits when using targeted email marketing strategies. Let’s take a look at some major ones that will give a significant boost to your email marketing campaigns.

Building relationships with your customers

Running a targeted email campaign allows you to connect directly with your prospects and customers. By maintaining regular contact and conveying a pertinent message, you are creating and nurturing relationships.

You are showing them that they aren’t just a number on a spreadsheet, but that you instead see them as an important part of your business. Thus, they will remember you as a brand worthy of their attention the next time you contact them. 

The more subscribers see your company in a positive way, the more opportunities for successful business growth.

Increased loyalty

Building a relationship with your customers is just a start. You want these customers to remain loyal and to come back for more of whatever you are offering.

When focusing on this aspect, you are constantly engaging with your existing base, trying to improve and keep them satisfied. Targeted email marketing will help you retain your subscribers and build upon that relationship on a regular basis. 

Higher conversion and response rates 

There’s no use in sending hundreds of emails only to see that they are never opened by their recipients. If your subscribers aren’t interacting with your content, all of that effort put into designing and writing the perfect email is rendered void. 

Targeted mailing lists

Statistics show that when users are facing a targeted and personalized email they are much more likely to open it.

Furthermore, when your content is relevant to their problems or interests, people are much more inclined to interact with you, gladly responding and engaging.

Higher return on investment

Email marketing is still one of the best ways to increase sales and generate leads for your business. When using targeted mailing lists, you can expect better conversions from your campaigns, turning prospects into customers at a much higher rate. 

These case studies show how 10 different companies managed to increase their email campaign statistics by using targeted mailing lists.

All of these benefits come from keeping your message relevant. The best way to achieve relevancy is by understanding your customers and using this knowledge to build targeted mailing lists.

Now that you have an idea of the power behind a targeted mailing list, let’s see what makes up a successful one. 

The main components of a successful targeted mailing list

Every good targeted email marketing campaign requires good preparation. This will allow you to choose the right segmentation criteria for your audience. It will also allow you to market the right product to the right people without wasting your resources.

So, let’s go through the things you should think about before moving on to a step-by-step approach to creating a targeted mailing list tailored to your needs. 

Clear Marketing Strategy 

First of all, you will need to establish a clear marketing strategy. Ask yourself the right questions in order to define your next steps.

To find the best market segment opportunities it’s a good idea to take a step back and analyze your brand first.  

You can ask yourself these questions to get you started: 

  • What problems can you solve for your customers?
  • What are you better at than your competitors?
  • What do you know you are good at?
  • Who does your company like to sell to?
  • In what country are you trying to place your products?
  • What customer characteristics are most common?

Additionally, be honest with yourself and compare your strengths and weaknesses to your competitors’. While you’re at it, try to find out what they are doing well and see if you could implement that in your strategy.

Once you have defined all the ins and outs of your business and the way your customers interact with it, you should move on to creating the first draft of your targeted mailing list. This brings us to the next point – segmentation criteria.

Carefully selected segmentation metrics

Carefully selected segmentation variables are used to create targeted lists that bring results. By creating a marketing strategy suitable for your business it should be easier to define segmentation criteria for your subscribers.

Market segmentation is the process of dividing a market of potential or existing customers into groups, or segments, based on different characteristics. These groups are composed of people who have similar traits and interests that could drive them to your product.

Targeted mailing lists

There are four main categories of segmentation criteria that you should become accustomed to:

1. Geographic Segmentation

This first group of criteria is based on the geographical variables like the country, region, city, language, etc

This segmentation is there to ensure your message won’t be discarded on something trivial like the location or the language of your recipients.

Targeted mailing lists

Caption: In this email campaign from Steve Madden, the local stores of the brand are highlighted to give a proximity incentive to the customer

2. Demographic Segmentation

Consumer needs and wants are often interrelated with demographic variables, making this the most popular segmentation criteria group. Also, demographic variables are rather easy to define in contrast to many others.

These segmentation criterias are all about people. They divide the market based on market segmentation criteria like age, gender, income, religion, race, and nationality.

Caption: In this campaign, Adidas clearly separates and targets different genders with different products

3. Psychographic Segmentation

Much more difficult to determine, but equally relevant, psychographic segmentation includes criteria like lifestyle, personality, hobbies, etc.

Even though determining these criteria might take some time and extra effort, if you succeed at it, it might be highly rewarding for your business. It would allow you to grasp a better understanding of what drives your customers to interact with specific promotions.

Targeted mailing lists

Caption: A good example of a gender and lifestyle combination segmentation

4. Behavioral Segmentation 

Behavioral market segmentation divides the market into segments based on consumer knowledge, preferences, uses or responses to a specific product.

This segmentation has the customers’ needs and wants as a major driving point and helps you promote your products in a more streamlined manner.

Targeted mailing lists

Caption: An email that triggers and suggests products following the reaction a customer had on a product. 

These main categories and variables can be combined in different ways depending on your previous business analysis. Here’s an example of how one might proceed when selecting the segmenting variables:

Let’s take a bookstore with locations in two different cities. The most relevant segmentation variables for this business type would be the following:

  • Geographic – City. If you have two different shops in different cities, you will want to use this variable. Why promote a book signing in LA to your NY customers?
  • Demographic – Age and Sex come as obvious choices because of how books are targeted. You’d want to promote your latest romance novels to women between the ages of 20 and 50 instead of teenage boys.
  • Psychographic – Lifestyle and Hobbies. Evidently, you would like to target your potential customers following the things that interest them in life.  

Defining the ideal relationship between your business and your customers should result in precise, better-defined target groups for your mailing lists.

Having gone through the segmentation theory and some examples, we would like to introduce what your focus should be when creating a targeted mailing list of your own. 

How to target mailing lists for success

In this chapter, we will cover all the major steps you must take towards creating the ideal targeted mailing list for your business.  Go through these steps one by one and try not to overlook them as they will ultimately help you to target your users more effectively and enable you to succeed with your email marketing. 

Analyze the existing customer database

The first stepping stone of any targeted email list is to analyze the data that you already possess. Before you start asking your contacts about their pets and favorite salads, you might want to take a good look at what you already know about them.

Depending mostly on your initial subscription form, you will have access to some information about your subscriber base. Do you have their name or just their email address? Can you easily determine their location? Are they a loyal customer or a first-time visitor?

The answers to these questions will get you started on some categories that you might want to consider. You can already segment your list based on your products and services for customers with specific demographics like gender and age. 

Acquire additional information about your customers 

Mailigen’s Online Survey tool allows you to reach out to your customer base and get additional information about their problems, wants, and needs.

Surveys are the best way to collect relevant data about your subscribers and you shouldn’t hesitate to send one to your subscribers when required. 

Luckily, it’s easier than ever to do this with Mailigen by following a few simple steps:

Step 1: Once logged in to your account, Navigate to the Surveys menu and select “My Surveys”

Targeted mailing lists

Step 2: There, click on the “Create new survey” then choose one of the two options: “Start a new survey” or “Use a template”.

Step 2: There, click on the “Create new survey” then choose one of the two options: “Start a new survey” or “Use a template”.

When you select “New Survey”, a wide array of customization options will become available. You can also use a pre-existing template by clicking on “Use a Template”. This option will allow you to use a previously created survey.

Targeted mailing lists

Step 3: In this example, we will be using the Existing Template option. Click on it and you will be presented with different survey templates that serve different purposes. 

Let’s select the “Shopping Habits” survey template to proceed.

Targeted mailing lists

Step 4: In this new window, you can customize your Survey a little more. 

  • By adding your company logo
  • Adding, removing and editing questions using the controls in the top right corner of the question windows.
Targeted mailing lists

Step 5: Next, to add a new question to your survey click on the “Questions” tab in the right window and you will see all the possible question formats that you will be able to use.

Simply drag and drop whichever type of question you want to add. 

When adding a new question you will be able to choose different options depending on the format, and whether answering it is mandatory to complete the survey.

Targeted mailing lists

Step 6: Don’t forget the “thank you” page on the bottom! Finish your survey on a positive note and thank your subscribers for answering all those questions.

Step 7: Finally, in the Survey options tab, you can set more customization options like:

  • Add a Title to your survey
  • Organize your surveys by adding them to a group
  • Add a redirect link
  • Choose which part of your mailing list has access to your survey
  • And many more
Targeted mailing lists

That’s about it! Just click on the save and exit button and you’re good to go. For a more complete walkthrough on how to create and modify surveys, visit our Survey Knowledge Base

Define customer personas

Once you have analyzed your existing subscribers and gathered some missing information about them, you should have a pretty good idea of who your prospective and current customers are.

Your next logical step will be to create realistic user personas that you will be addressing through your campaigns.

Personas are fictional characters, that you create based upon your research. This is done to represent the different user types that might use your service or product in a similar way.

By combining your demographics, survey info, and customer behavior, you can start painting a realistic picture of your customers and their possible reactions to your marketing message.

Use the segmentation criteria that you previously defined to narrow down the main characteristics your ideal customers should have.

Mailigen offers you specialized segmentation tools that are based on subscriber based criteria (like their name and engagement rating for example) but also activity based criteria (like clicks, opens, etc). This article will help you go through the basics of using Mailigen’s segmentation tool and learn how to make your own segments for your email marketing campaigns. 

By creating personas, you will be able to identify with your user base and understand their interests and expectations. This will help you deliver relevant content to your subscribers.

Check out these examples of buyer personas that will help you get started on creating your own.

So, the next time you are writing your promotional email, you will know exactly who you are addressing and how to tailor your marketing message to resonate in a meaningful way.

Offer Valuable and Interesting content

When you are writing your newsletter, try to ensure that the copy you created is worth your readers’ time. What you are sharing with your subscribers is what defines you in their minds.

As long as the information you are sharing is interesting and valuable, your subscriber base is bound to grow. Diversify, offer, inform, teach, and above all, stay pertinent with your emails, and your customers will respect you for it.

All in all, It’s easy to keep your target audience loyal if your email content clearly adds value to whatever you are selling. 

Make them feel the importance of your work

If you show your customers that you are engaged in what you do, and with them, they will keep coming back for more.

Regular webinars or workshops to make them accustomed to different features of your services or products will increase brand awareness. Conferences can reinforce brand loyalty and open the doors to new prospects and leads at the same time. 

Keep track of the results and improve

Having created your targeted mailing list and sent out your campaigns, you must start tracking the results. To be able to gather and understand relevant data, you should be combining different metrics. 

Mailigen offers you the tools to track all of the relevant data that might interest you when running your email marketing campaign. 

Two reports should grab your attention the most:

  • List Reports show the list activities on a monthly basis. Here you can find data about your contacts, their activity status, engagement rating, etc.
  • Email Campaign Reports show how every completed campaign performed. Through different detailed metrics, you can find out which campaigns were successful and try to find a pattern for success.

Additionally, Mailigen provides you with powerful A/B testing tools. This feature allows you to test your campaign on two versions of an email to see which one performs the best, then send the best performing one to the remainder of your mailing list.

This is an important feature as you can easily adapt your emails by analyzing which one of the tested features are working, and how you can combine features to get even better results.

Here are some key points where A/B testing can be beneficial: 

A/B campaign tests can be performed on different parts of the email: 

  • Message subject – this tests two different subject lines for your email campaign
  • From – this tests two different “from” names. For example, you can make it more personal or more formal.
  • Content – this tests two different newsletters including content and design.
  • Send – this tests different times for sending the newsletter.

To access this targeted email marketing strategies feature, simply select the “A/B Split Campaign” when creating a campaign in your Mailigen dashboard. A/B split campaigns have their own report that can be accessed through the Campaign Reports menu. 

As a rule in email marketing, you should test often to see what works better with your targeted audience. The A/B split campaign feature from Mailigen will allow you to automatically choose and send out the better option.


Throughout this post, we emphasized the power of targeted mailing lists and how to create effective ones. The key takeaways you should remember are:

  • Message subjectSplit and segment your lists with relevant segmentation criteria
  • Complete your customer information through surveys
  • Write interesting and engaging content
  • Use the reporting tools wisely to extrapolate relevant data
  • Test everything that you can to narrow down what works best within your target groups.

All in all, you should now be able to utilize this knowledge and start creating mailing lists to personalize your campaigns. The results should be better engagement from your customers and greater conversion rates from your email marketing.

Targeted mailing lists for e-commerce success
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