I just read an interesting report on a study that email service provider MailChimp performed on the effects of list segmentation on email marketing. They compared the results of 10,691 segmented campaigns that 1,998 companies sent to 8,762,207 recipients to non-segmented campaigns sent by the same companies.
You’d expect that the segmented campaigns would produce better results than the non-segmented ones. For the most part, that was true, but there were a few surprises:
• Increased Unsubscribes. While the open rate for the segmented lists was 14.4%% better than the non-segmented ones, and click-through rate 15.0% better, the unsubscribe rate was a surprise – 0.6% worse. The only plausible explanation MailChimp could surmise was that segmented emails were sent to a portion of the subscriber list in addition to “batch-and-blast” emails – and that the increased frequency triggered the higher unsubscribe rate.
• Some Filters Lower Response. MailChimp allows users to filter lists based on subscribers’ open and click-through behavior. So, for instance, you can easily spin off a list of your most avid email readers and send them a special offer.
Surprisingly, when this type of segmentation was used, open rates were 2.1% worse than the average, and click-through rates were 1.5% worse. When MailChimp explored further, they discovered that the most common use for this type of segmentation was for sending follow-up emails to people had not opened a previous one – so the reduced response was not so surprising on further inspection.
• Interest Groups vs. Data Fields. You would expect that self-reported interests would produce the biggest boost in response. However, such segmentation produced minimal gains: open rates and click-through rates both just 1.7% higher than the average.
By contrast, segmentation based on database fields such as zip codes or job titles produced significant improvements: 18.9% better open rates and 22.0% higher click-through rates.
You can read the full report here.