Examples of why you MUST segment your email list

Spam email is out of control. I’ve received over 3,100 spam email in 2 months. That’s over 100 per day!  To those of us that use email marketing, this is one more reason why we have to be nearly perfect if we want our emails to work.

Here are three common mistakes that I see people make. And I’ve included real examples to show what I mean.

The Relentless Talker

You’ve been here before, right? You are at a party or event and you get locked up in a conversation with someone that loves to talk. But it is all them talking and you listening. They talk about themselves and everything they are doing. EVERYTHING.

At some point you realize that if you quietly disappeared they would probably just keep talking to the peanut bowl and not even know you were gone.

Don’t be that emailer!

A constant stream of random emails is not effective. Eventually you will get tuned out.

Here are two examples of over doing it. Initially, I had reasons to pay attention to both of these. They were either in my industry or provided an opt-in that I thought would be helpful.

Boo Williams – 29 emails from October 12 to December 30 (2-3 emails per week)

Boo Williams and the Boo Williams Sportsplex is an organization that runs basketball events and elite teams. So on the surface it seemed like I would be eating these emails up.

Here are a few problems with their email system.

First, they are located in Hampton, Virginia which is 2,500 miles away. While our teams do travel for weekend tournaments, 11 of the 29 emails were about a league that is over more than one weekend and nearly impossible for us to attend. These emails are a waste of my time.

Second, they send me updates for scores from girls high school tournaments. As a boys program 2,500 miles away that is not participating in the tournament they are sending scores for, this is completely meaningless.

Third, they don’t give any way to update my email preferences. I’d like to get updates on their boys showcase camps. But there is only an unsubscribe button. I used it.

My suggestion: Cut back on the number of emails from 2-3 per week to 1-2. More importantly, make sure those emails are on a topic that I’m interested. Allow me to update the type of information that I want to see. On the unsubscribe page give me the opportunity to leave feedback. Now you will be hitting the mark and have more impact on my thought process. I would probably still be a subscriber.

Ruth Soukup – 27 emails from November 9 to January 5 (3-4 emails per week)

On November 9, 2016 I opted in for a blogging ebook and was interested in Ruth’s blogging academy. I knew that I would be put in to an email sequence That was fine because I wanted more information. I was looking for real help to develop my writing skills and I was willing to pay for it.

For the first couple of weeks I got one email with a quick tip or a free download guide. Great!

And then the dam broke.

At one point I received 9 emails in 5 days including 3 in 1 day!

I’m sure that it was because I was on multiple autoresponders and they just happened to line up. But the average person won’t know that. If you own your autoresponder sequences then you have to know what is going on.

I have an “acceptable” threshold level of emails I’m ok with. Every time the number of emails crossed this threshold, the amount that I was willing to pay for the academy dropped.

The main thing I wanted to see was the price and if it would be worth it. I really wanted to take the course, was willing to pay for it and needed to be able to justify it. Unfortunately, I was left with only one option: unsubscribe.

My suggestion: reevaluate your email sequence. It is overwhelming. When I opt in, ask me a few questions about why I’m interested or what I do. Ask me if I’m a boy or a girl. The course seems very tailored to women so let me know that it isn’t for me or move me in to a “men’s” version of the opt-in. But the number of emails has to go down and the message needs to be on point.

I know you mean well

You will lose your opportunity to get feedback. Don’t let your opt out rate fool you.

Foundr – 24 emails from October 10 to November 28 (3-4 emails per week)

One of the business magazine’s claim to fame is how they were able to get over 10,000 followers on Instagram by using a system they built. I opted in to find out more about it knowing I would be added to an email sequence.

Once again, here came the flood, at one point getting 8 emails in 5 days.

As I read the first few emails, something was different. I got the feeling that this company really did have a passion for helping people learn how to use Instagram better. So I replied back at one point with a single line: “18 emails in 12 days?”

This actually opened up a conversation with Nathan Chan, the guy that started Foundr. He acknowledged that their email system may not be working as well as it could be and that they were looking for a new system. He mentioned they have a lot of opt ins and their unsubscribe rate was low.


Whether or not they were going to use a new system or not, this was a personal engagement and I believe a genuine one! That’s huge. I was heard and maybe even helped.

But it kind of ended there. In my follow up I mentioned I do a lot of email marketing and use lead magnets for my business. I mentioned that I was also interested in getting better and looking for new ideas. This is the type of information that generally prompts a follow up of “what business are you in?” or “where have you found success with email marketing?”

It also struck me that your opt out rate is always a good indicator of your success. If you’ve blitzed me with a bunch of emails, I may be ignoring them altogether. Or worse, I may be marking them as spam which can effect your delivery rate.

In the end, I did opt out but felt like they at least are trying to get better.

My suggestion: customer feedback, especially negative feedback, is huge. But you have to dive deeper. If you want to provide amazing information you have know everything about your potential customers. And if they have opened a conversation with you they will tell you anything you want to know. Goldmine!

A Force Fed Buffet

Twitter has taken segmentation to another level. But I think they’ve gone too far. At least farther than they can handle.

When you create a Twitter account you are automatically added to their different email notifications.

All 22 of them!

Apparently each notification is run by a different manager because I’m getting a ridiculous amount of updates that seem to overlap. On top of which (I found this out later) if you try to unsubscribe through the email itself, you may not actually be unsubscribed. At least that is how it appears. Until you opt out through your account on the Twitter platform you are going to continue to get email after email.

I’m all for segmentation. But if you segment there has to be a clear line of discrepancy between each segment. If there is overlap then you are creating unnecessary redundancy. It’s confusing and overwhelming.

My suggestion: Start by doing a better job of laying out what new users are opting in to. Cut the segmentation categories to 4 or 5. Then create a more cohesive system for notifications. Get rid of any overlap.