The email list in your database is a precious commodity, especially if you’ve secured it the “old fashioned way” by “earning it.” Are you leveraging the power of marketing automation to gain the greatest benefit from each email you capture? A clear understanding of marketing segmentation will guide you toward an automation strategy which powers up your email return on investment.

Principles of Segmentation


Marketing automation depends upon auto-response emails. The first step to writing email responses which don’t sound off topic is to establish clear categories. In this way, you differentiate your response appropriately. Segmentation enables the crafting of email responses that sound personal; when in reality it’s a computer doing the work from your side.

For example with segmentation as a tool, it’s possible to promote multiple services with a ‘free’ promotional product for each service. The services become your initial segmentation categories. Whenever a potential client trades an email for your ‘free’ product, that email/contact is assigned to that product’s category. Note: Your free product could be an informational video, an eBook, a white paper, a consultation—anything likely to interest your target market.

If you have emails that weren’t segmented at the time of capture, consider sending out a short survey. A single question with multiple-choice radio buttons will make it extremely easy for your contacts to say, “Yes, I’ll participate in your survey.”

Segmentation is ongoing. As potential customers respond to your emails, your tune your auto-response to fit their actions. You craft your emails to match the differentiation channels you create.


If you use a customer’s name, engagement rises 22%. Reciprocate by always using the real name of someone within the company and your business name. It builds confidence that you care about the person receiving your messages. Note: Some customers begin from a point of distrust, so they give you a single initial for the first name and a non-company specific email. At some point, you should review your email list for this scenario. Consider segmenting this type of contact for ‘special treatment.’

Choosing an Action

Each email in your marketing automation program should contain a call to take some action. That call to action must be clear and brief. Single words such as ‘get’ and ‘sign up’ are very effective. ‘Learn more’ is another useful call to action, especially in the early nurturing stage.

Principles of Email Automation Development

Once you have laid the foundation for successful email automation, you are ready to develop your campaign.


Your invitation to take action means you must have all the components of your lead nurturing campaign ready. Begin with the ‘product’ that initiates your conversation. Ask yourself, “What responses do I anticipate to this ‘product?’” “What responses would I like this contact to make?” “What additional information might be helpful in moving this person closer to a decision?” “How quickly do I want this person to make a decision?” “What would give this person the sense that we really care about their experience with us?”

You answers to these questions are your initial guide to developing:

1) The content of your emails,

2) The calls to action you make, and

3) The frequency at which you send out emails.

Having all the landing pages ready for each email comes next. Focus on aligning the content of the page to the message of the email. It increases customer confidence.

To achieve alignment, use the strategy you developed for that particular segmentation category to write and design both the landing page and email. Using common graphic elements creates instant recognition. However, avoid duplicating written content. It’s better to write complementary copy.


Your messages should be conversational, yet professional. Write using ‘you’ frequently. However, avoid, “You should…” No one likes being told what to think or do. Instead, use the “Have you considered…” approach if you want to move someone toward a decision.

Choose subject lines that send a clear message about the email’s contents. However, avoid spam trigger words such as 1) free, 2) as seen on, 3) order, 4) buy, or 5) hello. (Hubspot has a complete list of words to avoid.[1]) An email recipient’s opt-in doesn’t guarantee his or her email delivery system won’t kick your emails to the spam folder.


Recognize that it still takes around seven touch-points before brand recognition kicks in. So plan at least seven follow-up emails. This will help you develop a relationship. Even if it takes several years for a potential customer to reach the point where they need what you offer, the investment in developing their confidence in you hasn’t been wasted.

Marketing automation allows you to reach out to more people effectively. In some cases, automation could enable you to provide an excellent customer experience without ever making actual contact. It really depends on what you’re delivering.