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Not all potential customers are the same. It’s a very simple, easy-to-understand concept, yet its implications often go unnoticed by email marketers.

The importance of understanding the diversity within an email campaign’s target audience was recently highlighted by Pamela Vaughan of Hubspot, who argued that segmentation is a key list management strategy that all email marketers should consider implementing.

Different messages for different people

As Vaughan pointed out, email marketing recipients vary in two essential ways: demographics and sales cycle position.

In terms of the former, individuals’ lifestyles, ages, professions and other factors will all play a role in determining their interests in a given product or service. Vaughan provides the example of two men, both of whom signed up for a newsletter from a plumbing company after reading several articles about clogs on the firm’s website. In Vaughan’s example, one man is a homeowner while the other rents an apartment.

While both men are interested in how to clear clogs in their homes’ plumbing, the means and lengths to which they will go are significantly different. While the homeowner may be able and willing to go out and attempt to replace pipes and other fixtures himself, the renter may limit his efforts to purchasing a clog-removing chemical.

From the plumbing company’s perspective, these two individuals represent very different demographics with different needs, and therefore will not respond equally well to an email marketing campaign that is not tailored for the particulars of their situation. The homeowner may ignore a message concerning the best drain cleaners to buy, having already attempted this remedy, while the renter may ignore a message outlining how to disassemble a sink.

A similar issue arises in regard to people at different points in the sale cycle. Using the example of a plumbing company again, Vaughan noted that a person desperately searching for a way of fixing his shower will be further along the sales cycle than someone casually perusing shower upgrades. Both may ultimately purchase a new shower head, but due to their different stages, the same message will not have the same effect on both parties.

Tailoring messages

For these reasons, Vaughan argued that email marketers should segment their email lists to account for the varying individuals and businesses they target. By using list management tools, organizations can craft messages aimed at home buyers vs. renters, casual shoppers vs. immediate buyers, and so on, and send only the tailored messages to the correct groups.