When Does Segmenting Make Sense?

Start your segmentation process by determining meaningful groups within your audience database. You might want to segment based on individual characteristics like geographical location or attendance history. Or you may have specific messaging for different audiences — say, for example, you have special offers for past attendees or are targeting people by job function for specific education tracks.

But just because you can segment an audience and send a customized message to them doesn’t mean that you should. It may not make sense to create separate emails promoting a convention to each job function category in your database. What may prove more valuable is to analyze how the email performed in terms of which links were clicked by job function. That data could help inform future campaigns.

Segmenting Groups
The WCX World Congress Experience provides an example of how to segment groups. Produced by SAE International, the event covers the mobility industry from its role in the shared economy to automated vehicle technology. When analyzing the attendance data for the event, it was clear that the convention regularly drew a large attendance from California. Given that Silicon Valley–based technology companies are playing a big role in the changing landscape of mobility engineering and that WCX features education, networking, and business opportunities specifically for start-ups, an email marketing campaign was tailored for young Silicon Valley tech companies. That segmentation resulted in a 3-percent increase in click-through rates compared to prior year non-segmented emails.

Time It Right
There are a few segments that are shared by all events and should be given some consideration. The first is alumni, those who attended your event last year and are already aware of your value proposition. It is often best to reach alumni at the beginning of the campaign cycle with offers that appeal to their loyalty and provide streamlined registration.

Those within a 200-mile radius of the event destination form the second audience. These potential attendees are able to drive in and can be targeted closer to the event since they need less time for planning. Consider pushing out last-minute offers to this group that emphasize the event’s convenient location.

Be sure to include both groups in your general campaign outreach, but also target potential returning attendees at the start and local residents at the end of your campaign. This splintered approach can help keep your event whole.

Avoid Oversegmenting
Using segmentation to target specific groups can cut costs and increase campaign conversions. But it should be balanced with the opportunity to speak to your entire prospect database. You want to segment when a message is only relevant to that particular part of the database, or when seeking data-driven rationale for decreasing audience reach, such as minimizing direct mail costs. Too much segmentation, in addition to requiring time and resources, can harm your results. Testing and optimizing campaigns requires critical mass. If you split your campaign into tiny segments, you won’t gather enough data to infer trends and make informed decisions.

To this end, if you are relying on too small of a sample size to make customization decisions, you could be over-customizing a message in a way that reduces clarity and causes distraction.

Read a HubSpot blog post on email marketing segmentation at convn.org/segment-hubspot.

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