3 Ways to Determine Customer Type

Segmenting your email list is integral to keeping your subscribers engaged, since it allows you to deliver more targeted messages. In order to create segments, though, you first need data on your subscribers. Since you can create segments based on behavioral as well as demographic data, you’ll have many different options. To avoid overcomplicating the process, it’s best to start with two or three different segments (gender or location, for example) and then expand from there. There are three main ways you can acquire this data:

1. Ask Your Subscribers Directly

When someone first subscribes to your newsletter via a popup, flyout, or other email collection method, you can ask them to fill out multiple fields, not just their name and email address. If you sell men’s and women’s products, for instance, you can ask them to indicate which they would like to see in the emails they receive. The only caveat to this is that adding many fields to a signup form can add friction to the process and, though the quality of your subscribers may be higher, you may not receive as many.

Signup Form

As an alternative, you can include an optional profile form in your first welcome email. While you may not receive as many responses, you won’t lose email addresses at the expense of this information. You can also include the link to this form in future emails so subscribers will have the option to update their preferences, if they wish to.

2. Infer Data from Purchase Information

You can use this method of data collection in addition to the first to fill in any blanks your optional signup forms might have left. Let’s continue using gender as an example. If a customer has only ever purchased women’s products, you can add them to a segment of your female customers. Likewise, you can do the same with customer’s who have only ever purchased men’s products. Actual purchases are a strong indicator of the types of products customers are interested in.

You may encounter some customers who have purchased from both men’s and women’s categories. If one type of purchases outweighs another — i.e. they’ve bought five men’s products and one women’s — place them in the dominant segment, male customers. Add customers who have purchased equally from both categories to whichever mailing list is more popular. If you primarily sell women’s products, for instance, add them to your segment of female customers.

3. Infer Data from Web Browsing

You may also want to segment subscribers who haven’t indicated their interests and haven’t made a purchase yet. If you have web tracking set up on your site, you can use this information to add them to one segment or another. To continue the gender example, you can add subscribers who have only ever viewed or primarily viewed women’s products to your segment of female customers. This data will be noisier because viewing a product isn’t as strong an indicator of interest as purchasing a product is, but it’s a good way to acquire data for subscribers who haven’t given you any other indication of their interests.


Sending your subscribers relevant emails is key to driving engagement. So, use these data collection methods to send your segments different newsletters tailored to their interests. Simple segments based on metrics like gender or location are a great starting point when segmenting your email list.


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