Who Can I Actually Email? How to Build a Segmentation Strategy

Email marketing is by far one of the absolute best investments that a business can make. This is because email is a direct 1:1 relationship with your contacts used to deliver personalized value, and in return, drive revenue for your business. Rather than creating unwanted interruptions like traditional marketing methods, email marketing allows you to capture and retain your contacts’ attention, which goes well beyond any initial sale.

So who can I actually email?

Let’s first start with the basics: do you have 100% permission to email this person? This is a gray area for many businesses, so here are a few scenarios and corresponding tips to help you answer this question:

  • Scenario: You meet a person at a company event or a trade show. You talk about your company’s services and you exchange business cards when saying goodbye. When returning to the office, you add this person to the CRM and opt them into receiving your weekly newsletter.
  • Advice: Although it is a good idea to add this connection to your CRM, you cannot sign up this person to receive your newsletter unless he/she provided verbal consent at the event. Instead, follow up with this lead by phone rather than signing this person up to receive email marketing campaigns. While on the phone, you should mention specific value delivered in your company’s email marketing efforts and ask for permission to opt this person in to receive these.
  • Scenario: A lead completes a contact form on your website and requests that one of your sales representatives contact him/her. Upon submitting the form, this lead is automatically added to your CRM and subscribed to your weekly newsletter.
  • Advice: Again, it is a good idea to add this connection to your CRM; however, this person still never provided consent for you to change his/her subscription preferences. If you would like all of your contact forms to automatically sign leads up for your newsletter, be sure to include a notation on the contact form or provide the lead with an opportunity to check a box to voluntarily opt-in.

While the advice above might seem to be too strict or conservative, these tactics ensure that your email marketing contacts definitely provided consent and are actually interested in receiving your emails. And if you have contacts who are actually interested in receiving your emails, you will have better performing emails and happier subscribers. Remember, it’s all about enhancing that 1:1 relationship with your contacts.

How to Build an Email Segmentation Strategy

Okay, so now you have a clean list of email contacts waiting to receive your campaigns. So, why is it important to not blast every single email out to all of your subscribers? Well first, you’ll have higher opt-out rates as you continue to do this. And second, you need to get personal. Delivering relevant content to subscribers goes a long way and is proven to increase your open and click rates, conversion, and retention.

Now, personalization is much more than inserting a user’s first name in the email copy. It’s about developing a strategy to deliver content that is specific to the user based on behavior patterns and what you know about your audience. You can then send the right message to the right user at the right time.

Next, you can start creating segments within your marketing automation platform. Here are a few examples of segments that might be helpful for your business:

  • Segment based on subscription preferences (example: subscribed to our weekly newsletter, upcoming event updates, etc.)
  • Specific engagement with your emails or your website (example: clicked this email and also visited this landing page within the last 30 days)
  • Current stage in your sales cycle (example: viewed pricing, is a new opportunity, received a proposal, attended a demo, etc.)
  • Location, company size, job title, or industry (example: all contacts with X job title at manufacturing companies in Ohio with less than 50 employees)

Now Let’s Start Driving More Revenue

Okay, so now you have your list of interested contacts as well as segments created within your email marketing platform. A good next step is for your marketing department to work directly with your sales representatives to create email marketing campaigns that focus on providing value and driving revenue.


Let’s say your website generates a lead for one of your company’s service areas and this lead also opts-in to receive future emails upon submitting the form.

  • Your sales representative contacts this lead and makes a note in CRM that the lead is interested in your services but is not ready to purchase for about 6 more months.
  • Although this lead is just trying to collect more information at this point, this is a great opportunity to enter the lead into an email marketing drip campaign.
  • You can work within your marketing automation platform to set up personalized emails that are sent to this lead over the 6 month period in order to provide consistent value and stay top-of-mind while the lead is evaluating options.
  • It’s a good idea to provide your sales representative with access to your marketing automation platform so he/she can see how this lead is engaging with these email marketing campaigns before following up with the lead.

While these types of emails aren’t the only kind that drive revenue for your business, they can certainly help create a better internal process and strategy that delivers more value to your contacts.

Overall, email marketing should be much more than just sending out a general, weekly newsletter. It’s about learning more about your audience, enhancing a relationship, and delivering value based on a user’s preferences. Remember this before clicking send on that next campaign.