Home Online Business Blog Email Marketing Best Practices: Personalization, Segmentation and Automation

Email Marketing Best Practices: Personalization, Segmentation and Automation

11 Dec
Hand of businessman using smartphone for email with notification alert

Many contend that social media is the new ruler of internet marketing, but the statistics tell a different story. Consider the following data points:

  • By 2026, the number of daily emails sent will approach 400 billion1
  • 77% of marketers say they've seen an increase in email engagement in the last year2
  • 81% of B2B marketers use email newsletters more than other forms of content marketing3
  • Revenue generated by email marketing will reach $11 billion by the end of 20234

Content marketing is going through a massive $584 billion growth spurt.5 While social media is undoubtedly a large chunk of that, the email marketing platform still reigns supreme.

However, email marketing’s dominance didn’t happen by accident. Marketers have had much longer to refine their email marketing tools and best practices in the wider scope of a complete digital marketing strategy. In this competitive landscape, it pays to know your email marketing best practices.

Email Personalization

Personalization techniques tailor email campaigns to individuals based on their preferences, behavior, and demographic information. The goal is to make emails more relevant, engaging, and valuable to consumers. Personalization strategies result in a higher open rate, according to 82% of marketers.6

One of the more obvious yet still effective personalization techniques is addressing consumers by their names in the subject line. This email design immediately establishes a sense of familiarity and interests consumers in opening the marketing email. An email subject line can make a big difference in whether an email is opened or not.

Taking it a step further, email marketers also use behavioral tracking. This means paying attention to subscribers’ interactions with your website and emails. Behavioral tracking allows for creating content and personalized emails that are more tailored to what consumers want. For example, if a subscriber frequently purchases products from a specific category, sending recommendations or exclusive offers related to past purchases or customer interests increases the chance of a repeat purchase.

Email marketers also find success in allowing subscribers to set preferences when signing up for emails. This ensures that content aligns with their specific interests and resonates with their needs. But it doesn’t stop there; an email can also become a personalized communication by:

  • Offering location-based deals
  • Reminding consumers when they’ve left an item in their cart
  • Sending dynamic content with images or products the consumer previously viewed
  • Reaching out when a customer has reached a particular milestone with the brand


Email segmentation divides an email list into smaller, more targeted groups based on specific criteria or characteristics. List segmentation aims to create more effective email campaigns with higher open rates by sending highly relevant messaging to each subgroup in a brand’s overall audience. Email segmentation varies in a seemingly limitless number of ways. You can divide groups to create personalized email campaigns by:

  • Demographics
  • Behaviors
  • Preferences
  • Spending habits
  • Location
  • Typical shopping time

One of the more common ways to segment an audience is through demographics. This categorizes subscribers by age, gender, location, or income level to deliver content and offers that align with their specific characteristics. For example, a brand will likely segment its audience into different generational groups. Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomers display different overall buying habits and require their own unique form of lead generation.

Psychographic segmentation is also standard. This divides a company's audience by lifestyle, values, beliefs, personality traits, opinions, interests, and many behaviors. What makes psychographic segmentation unique is that this approach delves into the subjective and emotional aspects of the consumers on an email list. For example, a skincare company may have a segment of its audience labeled as "holistic health enthusiasts" who value natural remedies, organic products, and spiritual wellness. This specific group would receive email marketing content about products and deals tailored to those interests.

Finally, lifecycle segmentation is another common email marketing technique that is utilized frequently. This segments consumers by where they are in their customer lifecycle. This lifecycle comes in five stages:

  • Awareness: When a consumer first learns about your brand
  • Consideration: The consumers are considering your offerings
  • Conversion: The consumer has made their first purchase
  • Retention: The consumer returns for repeat purchases
  • Advocacy: The consumer is now loyal to your brand and recommends it to others


Automation seems like it's everywhere lately, but that's not a bad thing. In fact, 90% of workers say automation has improved their work life.7 Automated email marketing tools are excellent for eliminating repetitive and mundane tasks that take up time better spent brainstorming new ideas.

Take, for example, A/B testing. A/B testing involves trying two or more variations of marketing content to see which performs best. Going through the process of which segment of consumers received which variation of a marketing email and tracking customer data for it all would be tedious, to say the least. However, email automation tools send out the different email variations to respective segments and then track and record the performance of each version. This includes open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates, and other relevant metrics for email analytics.

The best place to begin on the goal of automation for email marketing is to first set clear objectives. Do you want to just automate repetitive tasks, or are you looking for more accurate insights into how effective your marketing ideas are? From there, you are in a good place to decide what sort of automation tools you're looking for and research where to find them.

Learn More About Email Marketing Best Practices

Email marketing has changed a lot since it first began and will continue to change as the tech industry evolves. If you want to know how to follow marketing best practices, including personalized email marketing, now and into the future, then William & Mary’s Online Master of Science in Marketing is where you’ll learn just that. Through the marketing curriculum, you will gain a deep understanding of the role that the digital and global world play in the field and will graduate prepared to lead in an evolving industry.

In the Online MS in Marketing program, you will:

  • Learn more industry-specific skills than you’d get with a general MBA degree
  • Be able to start from the best possible position with our Jump Start Course
  • Enhance your earning potential
  • Finish your program in as short as 15 months

The Online MSM is a personally tailored experience for working professionals, designed to help you achieve your specific career goals. In this program, you’ll develop unique analytical, strategic and creative skills that comprise your first step toward a dynamic new career trajectory. William & Mary’s world-class faculty provides an unparalleled education that trains you not only in the tools and techniques successful marketers use but the mindset required for strategic, effective, empathetic leadership. At William & Mary, you’ll prepare to thrive in an ever-changing field, build a culture of openness on your marketing team, and view challenges not as obstacles but as opportunities.

Schedule a call with a helpful admissions outreach advisor to discover how William & Mary can help you prepare for a future of success.