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As numerous industry experts have noted over the years, one of the most important elements of effective email campaign management is the use of audience segmentation. This tactic allows marketers to target specific groups of recipients, based on a wide variety of segmentation criteria (past behavior, demographics, psychographics, etc.), then refining messaging to appeal to each group.

What is not quite as clear is how marketers should segment their audiences. Options are largely limited only by what data is available about each recipient in the database. There is no single best segmentation strategy.  Instead, a company should develop their strategy based on their goals, what they know about their customers/members of their email list, and their business model.  Despite the wide variety of options, there are a number of tried and true audience segments that are worth exploring.  One commonly used segmentation option is based on geography.

Marketing by region
The best way to incorporate  geographic targeting varies significantly from organization to organization. For a small business with a single physical location, geographic segmentation in email marketing might be as simple as removing anyone who can be identified as living outside the company’s market. However, that local company could also fine tune its geographic segmentation and develop specific messaging for smaller local groups (by neighborhood for example). This type of targeted messaging can help the business stand out relative to larger competitors that can’t easily match that type of local focus.

Geographic segmentation becomes more critical, however, when the business reaches out to an audience that stretches across the country, or even the globe. In these situations, creating marketing messages that take into account geographic differences can have a significant impact on the campaign’s overall performance. Whether it’s simply taking the local timezone into account when scheduling email campaigns or developing specific messaging and offers for audiences in different regions, states, cities, etc. there are a wide variety of ways to use this geographic data to deliver more compelling messages and offers.

A national retailer might offer discounts and sales on products and services that are relevant to a given geographic area. For example, a clothing company could use this tactic to promote winter coats in colder regions during the winter months, while emphasizing warm weather clothing in southern states, where winter coats are never needed.

Geography on the go
Geographic segmentation has taken on more complexity in the last decade, as most people in the U.S. rely on their smartphones and other mobile devices to access email (as well as most other digital activities). This represents a challenge and an opportunity for email marketers.  If a company can recognize where a recipient is when they open an email and dynamically deliver certain content based on their current location, it opens up a wealth of possibilities for marketers.

Local regulations
When it comes to maximizing the use of geographic segmentation, it is critical for businesses to understand and comply with local email and marketing regulations.  In the U.S. marketing from one state to another does not require compliance with different email marketing regulations, since CAN-SPAM sets the overriding standard throughout the country.  However, if your recipients include individuals from other countries, then an understanding of their local regulatory framework is vital to avoid potential compliance pitfalls.

Geography may not be relevant for every company to use as a segmentation tool, but it remains one of the most straightforward and effective methods for many marketers.

By: Tom Wozniak, Executive Director of Marketing