How to organise your email subscribers like a boss!
Organising your email subscribers can be one BIG headache. Especially when each Email Service Provider (ESP) has their own way of grouping subscriber data…
… Lists… Audiences… Tags… Segments… Groups… Custom fields… ahhh!
What do they all mean?
In a nut shell, these are ways for you to keep track of subscriber details, interests and engagement.
Let’s look at the different ways you might be able to organise and manage your subscribers.
List / Audience
This is the place where ALL of your subscribers are housed.
Ideally you want to have just ONE of these, but there are situations where keeping more than one list is okay, such as if you have two very different customer profiles that will never ever mix, e.g. you sell to individuals and also businesses.
First thing you need to know is that these are for your use only.
Your subscribers DO NOT see these nor can they self-select tags as a way to update their preferences. They are solely for you to use to help sort people by their interest, behaviour or any other category that makes sense to you.
For example, you might want to apply a tag to your sign up form so you know whether someone came through your website or a campaign landing page, OR you may want to know who opened a specific email or even who is also an Instagram follower.
Different ESP’s offer different tagging functionality. ALL will allow you to manually append a tag to a contact record either one-by-one for via a bulk up load process.
SOME, like will allow you auto-tag a subscriber based on their interaction with your email.
There’s so much more to tagging than I can write here. But I hope this gives you a good understanding for how to use them and WHY you should be using them.
TIP: If you currently create multiple lists to track subscriber interests, start using tags instead.
Groups and Custom Fields
Groups and custom fields are what your subscriber can use to categorise themselves based on their interest or preference. You can also move subscribers into groups yourself.
Group and custom fields can also be pulled into forms as a way for subscribers to self-select their own preferences upon sign up.
For example, if your business services customers internationally you may want to know if they live in the Northern or Southern Hemisphere to help tailor future emails to them. Or, if you sell women’s and men’s clothing, you might need to know the subscriber’s gender in order to tailor their emails better.
TIP: When creating outward group or custom fields names, think about what is most subscriber friendly. Avoid jargon and acronyms.
Now segments are where you can get clever with your data.
By bringing your tags, groups/fields and other engagement stats your ESP has collected from your subscriber data, you can create segments to target your subscribers with specific (relevant) content.
Your ESP will (should) provide options for segment creation in an easy-to-understand format. For example:
> Subscriber did/did not open X email.
> Subscriber has tag = X
> Subscriber is in group = X
Now the exciting part (nerd alert!) is that you can have more than one rule per segment by using AND/OR logic. So all of that work that you’ve done using tags or groups PLUS the engagement data your ESP has collected can come together to create powerful segments of your list to target for specific campaigns.
For example, you may want to segment ANYONE on your LIST who has opened at least ONE your campaigns in the last 3 months AND is tagged as = Interested in Product A.
By getting this specific with your data you can be certain that you’re only talking to people who actively have an interest in the thing you’re selling and leave those alone that you aren’t.
It’s worth remembering…
Not all ESP’s are created equal.
How one provider allows you to sort and handle data will be different from another provider.
Start simple and don’t over think it. You main goal for organising your data is to help you ORGANISE, MANAGE and AUTOMATE your email subscribers.
And if you want to know my personal ESP preference it’s…
I prefer it for my business because it’s really powerful for being responsive to subscriber behaviour and allows me to automate SO MUCH work.
My one gripe is that it doesn’t include a landing page builder, however I’ve found a solution for that… and to be honest, I’d rather use an ESP that does 90% of the things I want it to do well, then something that does everything but with limited functionality.
So there, you have it.
Now you know how to sort your email subscriber data.