How to Segment Email Lists: B2B Segmentation Best Practices

segment email list

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Utilizing segmented email lists within your CRM and marketing strategy will increase customer retention and campaign success. Whether you have an extensive email subscriber list or are starting from scratch, segmenting your contact list is well worth the time and effort. So how do you segment email lists?

Creating automated contact tags and planning to segment email lists is often an afterthought when designing an email marketing strategy. However, it can be a valuable tool for building and implementing successful marketing campaigns.

Here we’ll review the following topics around how to segment email lists:

The most successful marketing campaigns speak directly to the customer, addressing their interests and concerns. Utilizing contact tags and segmented lists allows you to do just that.

What is email list segmentation?

Email marketers use email segmentation to divide their contact list into smaller groups (aka, segments) to send well-targeted emails. Each segment of your email list will then hold critical characteristics that are specific to them.

Through those characteristics, email marketers can tailor their email content to speak directly to their contact’s needs and interests. Any good conversion rate optimization consultant will tell you that a proper email segmentation strategy leads to a significant conversion increase.

The Benefits of Email List Segmentation

Email marketing is most effective when the content speaks directly to who the customer is and their expressed interests and concerns. To do that, you need to segment your long list of contacts into a series of shorter, more specific lists of individuals with shared tags (identifying markers).

Let’s discuss some of the benefits of segmenting your email lists:

  1. Offer more personalized content
  2. Enhance your customer experience
  3. Boost your open rates, click-through rates, and overall conversion rates
  4. Increase deliverability
  5. Improve brand reputation and customer relationships

When you segment email lists you can create more tailored content, it leads to a better overall customer experience. You’ll find that your campaigns will have an increase in email open rates, click-through rates, and conversions as a result.

Your deliverability will also improve because the segmented contact lists are inevitably shorter. This greatly enhances your sender’s reputation and prevents your emails from winding up in the spam folder.

What is Contact Tagging?

Using tags is one of the easiest effective methods to segment email lists. In essence, you place labels on your contacts, allowing you to track valuable information. You could tag them based on their location, product/service interests, how they found your brand, the content they engage with, and more.

Segmenting Email Lists vs Tagging Contacts:

Tags are applied to individual contacts that can then be used to segment your email list. They serve as identifying markers. Whereas, a segment consists of a group of contacts that all share similarities.

When you tag contacts you can customize your email content by grouping them (segmenting) according to their shared markers (tags).

For example, you might apply a location tag identifying everyone from Chicago, IL. You can then use that tag to create a segment of your contacts who should receive emails relevant to Chicago, IL.

The Best Way to Segment Your B2B Audience 

segment email lists

You can employ various strategies; however, when you are getting started, one of the best methods for service-based B2B business owners is to segment your audience based on their interests.

Categorizing your subscribers based on the services or solutions they express interest in or pain points they want to address allows you to tailor your email marketing effort to best appeal to them.

Start by tagging them with the method they used to subscribe to your list. Was it through a generic subscriber form or a more specific inquiry? Maybe they signed up through one of your lead magnets.

The best email segmentation method ultimately depends on your:

  • Business goals
  • Available data
  • Subscribers’ specific needs
  • Subscribers’ preferences

TIP: Consider how you might tag contacts when designing and placing your lead magnets and subscription forms. What insights can be gleaned from its placement and design alone?

Top 5 Ways to Segment Email Lists

segment email lists

1 – Demographic

Use whatever demographic data you can collect, such as age, gender identity, company position, industry, etc.

Tag them for all their key demographics and then decide which metrics can be helpful in your marketing strategy. Then, create segmented lists using those metrics.

2 – Interests (Opt-ins and Responses)

Identifying your contact’s interest in your product/service and brand allows you to target your email marketing efforts effectively. There are two ways you can determine your email contact’s various interests.

First, create an automated tag associated with their opt-in method that initially identifies what brought them to you and your brand. This creates an excellent foundation to build off.

Second, create automated tags associated with specific actions and responses to the content they interact with. For example, if they click a link in an email or view a specific website page, tag accordingly.

3 – Geographic Area

You can segment email lists using demographic tags based on your geographic location. This can be extremely valuable for businesses that market to specific locations.

Creating geographic tags and segmented lists will be useful if you have multiple locations or provide location-based offers.

4 – Spending Patterns and Behavior

You can tag individual contacts based on their spending patterns and relationship with your brand.

Segmenting your contact list according to the items or services they’ve purchased, the purchase amount, their engagement level, and so on can aid in customer retention.

5 – Conversion Funnel Position

Setting up tags related to the various sales funnel positions will allow you to create segmented email lists, which you can then use to tailor your email marketing experience.

Some call-to-actions are better suited for current customers, while others work well on new leads.

Steps to Email Segmentation and Tagging:

Here is a quick step-by-step tutorial to segment your email lists followed by a few email segmentation examples.

Step 1 – Choose an email service provider.

Choose an email service provider that allows you to use and, ideally, create segmented email lists. Our favorite provider is ActiveCampaign.

Step 2 – Create targeted email opt-in forms.

Create targeted email opt-in forms to build your contact list (and tags associated with each). Do try to keep your forms to a maximum of four fields or less. But don’t be afraid to ask 1-2 questions in your sign-up form or as part of the follow-up process.

For example, create a generic opt-in newsletter subscriber form that has just 1-2 fields (full name, email address). But on your contact page and/or lead magnet landing pages, create a form that has 4 fields: full name, email, question about their pain point or needs, question about their business type.

Even knowing what optional details they omit can be potentially valuable information!

segment email lists

Step 3 – Create tags associated with your opt-in forms.

Create demographic tags and interest-related tags. Create tags associated to each of your forms.

Step 4 – Create tags associated with other actions.

Set up self-segmentation through the use of automated tags. Let the system do the work for you. Marketing automation is key here! Set up tag automations triggered by specific actions that contacts take on your website or within your emails.

Step 5 – Segment your contacts.

Determine what segmented email lists would be the most useful to your current marketing strategy. Remember, you can always create more later. Focus on what lists will be useful to have now. Within your email marketing tool, create new segmented lists based on factors that align with your overall marketing strategy.

Segment Email Lists using Tools and Software

Our favorite email service providers are:

– ActiveCampaign

– Hubspot

For opt-in forms that can be added to your website or landing pages, we recommend:


ActiveCampaign forms (your email marketing tool should have the ability to create forms and provide code to embed the form in your website)

In our experience

Segmented contact lists are valuable resources within your business, especially with B2B marketing. A successful B2B email marketing strategy relies on personalized communication and tailored content. Segmenting your contacts based on relevant information allows you to do that with little effort.

Segmented contact lists might take a little time and effort to set up and maintain, but the results will be worth it, provided you are strategic. The trick is to apply any and all tags you can conceive without repetitions or overlaps.

From there, you can segment email lists to fit your current email marketing strategies. As you set it up, remember to consider both the short-term and long-term marketing needs of your business.

segment email lists

Disclosure: Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, which can provide compensation to me at no cost to you if you decide to purchase the product or service. These are products I’ve personally used and stand behind. This site is not intended to provide financial advice and is for entertainment only. You can read our affiliate disclosure in our privacy policy.

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