How to Map Your Email Segmentation Strategy (with Template)

Feature image for blog post on how to map your email segmentation strategy. Partial laptop, coffee, notepad with Klaviyo design

Editor’s note: The following video and transcript on email segmentation strategy are the 2nd in a series of excerpts from Agata’s presentation on advanced segmentation from our New York City Workshop. The first installment covered the building blocks of advanced email segmentation.

There are three things that you want to ask yourself when it comes time to launch any given marketing initiative.

Who’s going to be excited about this?

The first is, who’s going to be excited about this? I’m launching a new product. I have cat hats, Patriot cat hats. Who is going to actually be excited by that? Who really cares about what I’m doing here?

Some of the things that might indicate who is gonna be excited about something are things like:

  • Categories of products that they’ve bought in the past.
  • Time period in which they bought. It may be you’re doing kind of a special promotion for birthdays, and you want to go through data to figure out people who have only ever bought the one month of the year.
  • Potential spend.
  • Where they came from.
  • Geography. Probably you have a couple of folks that have not yet interacted with your brand. You don’t have any sort of information around what they’ve bought in the past, so you’re not really sure if they’re cat owners or Patriots fans based on their activities. You might say, “Okay, well, the next best thing that I’m gonna use to target you is geography, because I know if they’re living in Boston, they’re probably Patriots fans.”
  • Gender. And similar demographics.

So who ought to be excited about this. Your number one question.

What am I going to say?

Your second question is “what am I going to say?” What is my message, what is my call to action, what is my strategy here, what’s my plan?

There are so many options:

  • Am I going to do things like offer exclusivity? Something that will only apply to the people that I am communicating with.
  • Am I really gonna push the value of my brand?
  • Do I have a story behind my product that I really want to sell and communicate here?
  • Do I have a limited quantity of things or do I want to drive scarcity or urgency because I have something that’s time bound as an offer.
  • Can I do volume based incentives? Am I trying to get people, again, to increase their average order value and so I want to give them incentive to buy multiple products in one session?
  • What about free shipping discounts?
  • Social proof – other people who are using this as well.
  • Do I want to appeal to a charitable cause?

All these things tie into your message strategies. So they’re listed out here to give you some ideas, because I think it’s helpful.

But start with who is gonna be excited about whatever you’re doing, and then start thinking about what you’re going to say, and then think about it from the perspective of “what’s my story here?” What do I think people are going to care about? If I were talking to this person at a dinner party, what would I say?

Where will I say it?

The last part is “where will I say it?” What is my channel? What is my medium?

If we’re talking about Klaviyo here, we’re talking primarily about email. Email can mean campaigns. Email could also mean flows (triggered emails).

We’re also talking about Facebook and Instagram. You can use this approach, really, in any kind of marketing that you’re doing.

For example, I’m going to run a PR campaign. I’m going to do billboards or something.

Before you segment, you want to understand your audience and your message and your medium. Doing this upfront, really having that kind of prefecture up front, is going to save you time.

I spent my entire career at high growth companies. I know that time is a premium. I bet everyone has experienced something where they’ve spent a lot of time on something, and it felt like they were spinning their wheels. Creating a whole bunch of segments and then maybe not even using those segments at the end to execute on your campaign.

The preventative measure for that situation is to be clear upfront on who is going to be excited by this (who is my audience), and what am I gonna say (what’s my message), and where I’m gonna say it (what’s my medium).

The Framework

I want to introduce you to a framework, or a template, that we use to help with this kind of planning. It’s a marketing plan map.

It has spaces for all these different categories

  • my goal
  • my strategy
  • who’s excited
  • where am I going to find and message segments.

So using our example from before: “Pats Cat Hats”.

Let’s say that I want to use that as a new product launch to boost revenue in January and February, because I know that typically my sales decline then. I’m launching them as a limited-edition item.

I might start thinking through a couple of notes to myself upfront like, hey, is there any particular group that I want to report on specifically in this population? Am I going to offer a discount right upfront? Can I do international shipping? Do I have to limit those to the U.S. ? What are some of my parameters? What are some of the things that I want to use to help me guide myself or have my team kind of guide themselves with this initiative?

Then who’s excited? Who’s really gonna care about this most?

Well, cat owners and Patriots fans, for the most part, are gonna be really excited about this product. For the purposes of this post, I’m going to stick with email only as my main medium.

So I have everything on this left side spelled out. Here’s my map to keep me organized.

Let’s say I’ve got my 12 segments for my building blocks set up in Klaviyo. Maybe I’ve even printed them out and they’re sitting somewhere on my desk so I can go through them.

You want to start thinking about “what do I have to say here?”

This is what I want to try to achieve and this is who I’m talking to. Now what do I want to say? Can I use some of those building blocks in some of those groups to help spark some ideas for what I might say?

So kind of thinking through what I want my plan of attack to be here for my Pats Cat Hats, I was looking through the different groups that I had in my building blocks as inspiration and came up with ideas for specific audience segments.

  1. Special Access. I might say, “I’ve got the people here that I am really going to push special access to this product. It is not gonna last.” I want to say, “Hey, just for you, because you’re such a great customer, I want to give you the chance to be the first person to own a Pats Cat Hat.”
  2. Dedicated Notice. Then I might do a dedicated notice to some other folks that follows up on that initial special access early release notice.
  3. Win-back. I think this product is cool enough that I’m actually going to get some people to come back to my brand, I can actually win them back.
  4. Default Promo. And then, I’ve gotta pull together a default promo here. I know I’m going to have some folks in my marketing population that are engaged with me. They’re really interested in what I’m doing. They’ve given me a lot of signals that say, “Hey, yeah, I’m really interested in your brand overall,” but I’m not 100% positive that they might be fans of the Pats Cat Hat, because they haven’t yet given me those signals.

Once you’ve worked through your different messaging, your segments end up being really straightforward.

Let’s imagine a world where you’ve gone back to the office, you’ve set up those 12 segmentation building blocks in Klaviyo so that you have them at your disposal. That’s 80% of the work done! We’ve already  defined all the rest here by saying, “Hey, who’s going to be excited about this, and where am I going to send this message, and what do I actually want to say to them?”

That will help you figure out when I create a segment for this campaign specifically, how am I going to take all of these different conditions – all of these different data points that I have – to create that kind of addressable group that I think is going to be motivated 1) by the same message, and 2) by the same call to action.

So the special access. In this case I really want  to focus on both my high rollers and my enthusiasts, because I think that they’re the population that’s going to be most engaged with what I’m doing. So I’m going to combine them in this segment. And then I make sure that I am pulling in people who have given me those signals that say, “yep, I own a cat or yep, I’m really into Patriots.” And since I’m using email specifically, I need to make sure that they’ve opted into email.

How to avoid over-segmentation

One of the things that I just want to point out here in taking this approach: one of the ways that you can get overwhelmed really quickly with segmentation – applying segmentation to every single kind of initiative, every single campaign that you send out –  is by over-segmenting. You have all that data, so you’re like, “Oh, I’m gonna pull all this together. I’ve got 50 products, 50 SKUs so I’m gonna start creating segments for each of them.”

The way that you avoid over-segmentation-itis is by going through this exercise and making sure that you are actually working from the perspective of “where am I going to send things, what am I going to say, and then do I have any specific reporting requirements?”

Go backwards to define “where do I need unique segments?”

Put another way, if you’re running something on Facebook and on email, you want unique segments. You need people who have opted into email. On Facebook you can pull in people who have interacted on your website potentially. So you have different conditions there just based on the place that you’re going to be sharing a message.

If you have two competently different approaches – you’re offering exclusivity and a different message entirely, a different call to action with one group of people, and with another one it’s really all about winning them back – that’s two different messages. It’s two different segments. You need something unique to send to them.

The only other time you need to create another segment is if you say, “hey, in this group I’ve been launching my enthusiasts really carefully. I want to see how they respond because I want to see how many of them are going to get into the high roller category. I’ve got different reporting needs for this campaign. I’m actually going to send them the same thing.” When I really want to be careful about tracking them differently, then I might create a separate segment there.


To see Agata’s entire presentation and related resources visit the Klaviyo Help Center’s 9 Rules of Effective Segmentation page.

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