How I segmented my email list and increased subscriber engagement

How I segmented my email list and increased subscriber engagement

Subscribers. They are the life blood of any blog. More than casual visitors and loyal readers of a blog, subscribers play a crucial role in getting your blog to roll. And, according to the famous saying (“the money is in the list”), email subscribers are a source of income for many bloggers.

Let’s start with this …

Email marketing is not dead. Not even close. It is a booming strategy for blog marketing, in particular.

Email marketing helps you to sound personal, provide value and connect with your readers even outside of your blog. Yes, you can talk to people even when they are not at your blog, and when they are not reading your posts or comments. And you can talk to your subscribers about anything even outside your focus.

Do you realize how privileged it is to have permission to land your word on someone’s inbox? You don’t always get that option easily. It is hard earned.

But it is sad that a large portion of online entrepreneurs use this method of marketing to its worst. They just punch their subscribers’ face with sales pitched emails and just guide this awesome marketing strategy to a death pit.

Fine – let’s not talk about those who ruin the system. Let me talk about how to make email marketing more effective.

I must insist that when I say “effective” I don’t mean how can I make my list to buy my recommendations through one email. I mean “how can I be more useful to my list with less confusion and chaos (on my side)”.

Ya, so since I talk a lot about productivity and time management, I cannot have a cluttered workspace or anything. Not a cluttered email list too!

OK my email list was not actually cluttered. But it was not suitable for optimal usage.

Update: Please note that this post was written when this blog was a multi-niche blog (Find All Answers) – and I have republished this post. So some of the points discussed here may not apply to the current standing of this blog. But regardless of that fact, the tips and strategies still apply to you as a blogger.

What were the issues?

  • Idle people on my list who did nothing but subscribed to my blog to download the free ebooks I am offering. They never open any email after that first email.
  • I am was running a multi-niche blog. When someone reads a killer “Relationship” post from my blog and wants to know more about relationship stuff and subscribes to my blog, it will be weird to send him/her tips on blogging.

Since I have had a mix of audience from varied niches, I really couldn’t make every email to be useful to everyone. As a consequence I could not improve my open rates.

Subscribers usually decide whether they could find my email useful or not by looking at the subject line. So every email I sent, only reached a very less percent of people’s mind (even though it reached their inbox).

I knew that it is never going to be useful for myself and my subscribers this way. So here is what I did:

I decided to split/segment my email list

I decided to split/segment my email list

Not my relationship with my subscribers – Since mine was a multi-niche blog, I decided to split the subscriber list into three groups. But I could not do this by myself because I didn’t know who wants what. So I sent the following email to my list:


Yup you heared me right. I am going to do some cleaning up and organizing…. not with my house, but with my mailing list. It’s currently a bit of clutter, even though not as much as you would notice, but it certainly bothers me. Here are the issues I have:

  1. Idle people were occupying my list – I don’t want them; that spot can be better used by someone  else who really wants me and my stuff.
  2. I run a multi-niche blog, as you would know by now – Blogging Tips, Relationships and Self Improvement. I know how it feels when you signed up falling in love with an article on relationship and you get my newsletter email about blogging.

So I really want to make you and myself happy and I want my emails to be more useful to you. However, I cannot do this by myself, coz I don’t know what you really want!

Could you please do me a favor and hit the reply button to tell me your interest? What kind of emails you would like? Blogging Tips, Relationships or Self Improvement (or) ALL OF THEM?

I will split my list up according to the replies I get and try to get things more organized. I say it again, I need your help with this.

Please go ahead and talk to me. I’m listening.

BTW, thanks to all your wonderful replies stating your wish on my ebook. I am working on it :)

To your personal and business success,


I must say that my list is just awesome. Within minutes of sending the campaign I started receiving emails from my subscribers telling me what they wanted. And many were so happy that I asked them.

Luckily my list was small at that time and I could handle the manual grouping thing. But if your list is big, you should think about it!

Now I had split my list into 3 groups; the groups were named Blogging Tips, Relationships, Self Improvement.

I had put those people who replied into appropriate groups as they asked for; those who didn’t reply were included in all the three groups. I could then send targeted emails to my list – How sweet!

I had also cleaned up my list based on the history of my subscribers. I could see the date when a particular subscriber had opened an email from me. And if it is sometimes earlier than 4 months I deleted them from my list.

I kept 4 months as a threshold which I think is pretty much loose.

What is the use of segmenting my email list?

1. No more irrelevant emails to my subscribers.

2. Really targeted emails so I had very good conversion

3. Increased open rates on every campaign.

4. Overall enhanced experience for both me and my subscribers.

Segmenting your email list: Conclusion

Before I wind up I have to tell you that this method will work only if you have a small email list. If you have a big list you could still do it, but you should be sure if you can handle it manually. If you have someone to help you, that would be good!

For the new subscribers you add to your list or for the new subscribers who want to subscribe themselves, you might want to give them the option to do so. Depending upon the autoresponder service you are using, you might want to check if it has the option to put up a drop down or something so your visitors can choose the appropriate category of interest.

I hope you found this strategy of segmenting your email list to be useful!

How good is your email marketing strategy? What are you doing to improve it?

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  1. Justin@Mazzastick says

    Hi Jane,
    I am using MailChimp as well. Thanks for advising about splitting subscribers into groups. I am not an expert using MailChimp yet and I certainly need to spend more time on using it effectively.

    I need a good, solid day of just playing around with it to become better at using and utilizing it.

    • Jane SheebaJane Sheeba says

      Mailchimp has some really cool competent features similar to that of Aweber, and free of cost until you really pick some momentum and have a long list. Hope you will soon set yourself some day to try the features :)

  2. Dennis Edell@ Direct Sales MarketingDennis Edell@ Direct Sales Marketing says

    An excellent strategy indeed Jane, list segmentation was always a big boy trick.

    FYI for Aweber users: Make as many lists as you need under one account, with a different form for each. 😉

    • Jane SheebaJane Sheeba says

      Hey Dennis,

      Thanks. And with Mailchimp too you can create as many lists as possible with custom forms for each of them. I just wanted to have one list segmented. It is just my way. But you can also create new lists :)


      • Dennis Edell@ Direct Sales MarketingDennis Edell@ Direct Sales Marketing says

        I never looked into segmenting one list with Aweber, that would be cool.

  3. Jeanine Byers Hoag @DressingMyTruthJeanine Byers Hoag @DressingMyTruth says

    Hi Jane! What a great idea!! And I’m glad to hear that it worked so well for you. I am still actively trying to build my list so am not yet ready to clean it, but I see the value in doing so from time to time.

    • Jane SheebaJane Sheeba says

      It is good to look at the lists once in a while to do a bit of clean up. This makes things easier. Actually I was a bit late; got things piled up and had to devote one newsletter to do all the cleaning and splitting :)

  4. Arijit Das says

    Ya, i use MailChimp, and i think it’s the best for new blogger to launch an email subscriber lists of 2000 without spending a penny of Dollars.

    Generally, maximum Indian Bloggers don’t have credit card and as you know paypal is now not allowing indian users to buy online. So, It becomes difficult for us to step for Aweber, which charges some amount of dollars monthly.

    Aweber is the favorite email newsletter manager for popular bloggers. But i’m happy with MailChimp… “Same Features but little difference”.

    Now.. i’m in process of building a Healthy Subscriber Base.
    Arijit Das recently posted..20 Important Blogging TermsMy Profile

    • Jane SheebaJane Sheeba says

      Hey Arjit,

      The difference is really little. And, I am sure we can just go on with the free option since that is huge now; 2000 subscribers or 12000 emails per month. That is cool.

  5. Ileane says

    Hi Jane, you made a wise decision. Everyone needs to experiment and test to see what works best for them and I’m glad you did this – it’s a great example. Thanks for sharing it!

    • Jane SheebaJane Sheeba says

      Hey Ileane,

      I am glad that I experimented with my list and asked them. Most of them were so happy that I asked them what they wanted :) I also came to know what the majority of my “Find All Answers” population is interested in :)


  6. Oliver TausendOliver Tausend says

    Hi Jane,

    pretty cool idea. There’s a solution to anything and everything, is it not ? I admire your creativity and the focused efforts you put into action that resulted in a perfect solution for everybody.

    Awesome, thanks for sharing.

    Take care


  7. Andrew WalkerAndrew Walker says

    Wow, it’s a marvelous idea to split the subscribers. I have just started using Mailchimp. I will implement your tips right away. Thanks a lot for providing such a nice informative article.

  8. CristianCristian says

    Running a multi-niche blog definitely made things harder for you in this regard. By the way, I am a big fan of Mailchimp as well.

  9. Antonia@Conversational hypnosisAntonia@Conversational hypnosis says

    The only reason i don’t like subscribing is because i read a lot of blogs every day, and i have even more bookmarked, probably over 200. So where would i be if i started to subscribe to those blogs? I’d be reading emails all day long.
    I just prefer to read the info when i visit the blog, at least once every 2-3 days when i search for something new.
    Not all webmasters put so much thought in to what their readers prefer when it comes to mails.

  10. MusthafaMusthafa says

    I just entered into mailchimp, already opened account, list setup, and I use popup domination plugin soon.. as I am a newbie.. can anyone suggest some good information for newbies?

    By the way, more than 10% of my visitors are subscribing to RSS as of now..


    Musthafa Ullal

  11. Dr. Bob Clarke says

    I love this idea, Jane…. how better to learn what your subscribers want than by asking them, right?

    A month ago I did a “spring cleaning” of my various lists, getting rid of subscribers who hadn’t opened an email in 8 months. Figured that was enough time of inactivity to qualify them as “unresponsive”! :-)

    But I didn’t go a step further and ask them what they wanted. Even though mine is not a multi niche blog like yours, I see the value of simply sending out an email and asking them what they want to hear more about.

    Great stuff, Jane… thanks!

  12. S.R.Ayyangar says

    You are right in filtering the undesired. You know, I was editing an ezine called ‘Master’ for NGO on awareness issues and was mailing to nearly 1ooo email Ids for nearly 6-7 years but hardly anybody acknowledged or commented on its contents! It was demoralising as well as frustrating, I opted out of the editorship.
    I really do not know if I have responded to your subject mail but would like to be in all your three lists.

  13. Rowena BoloRowena Bolo says

    Hi Jane,

    Thanks for sharing with us a detailed account of how you actually cleaned up and split up your list. I was honestly very curious how your subscribers would react to your email , and I am so glad to know that they responded well. Well, you truly do have a precious list. I also don’t have a multi-niche blog, but I’ll keep this in mind, as I tweak my opt-in and email marketing efforts.

    Thanks again for sharing your experience with us.

    – Rowena

  14. MaqsoodMaqsood says

    Email marketing is quite suitable for target marketing to target people.
    When someone is interested in SEO, if you send “Get a Degree in Internet Marketing” , it will work 99.9%

  15. Samantha BangayanSamantha Bangayan says

    Loved hearing about your process and rationale through this, Jane! This sounds like a really effective strategy that’s beneficial for everyone! =)

    I don’t have an opt-in on my website, so I don’t send emails out to subscribers at all, but I really love what I’m learning here for when I get started with this. Hoping to get an eBook out soon. Wish me luck! =)

  16. Stacy@Personal Growth says

    Hi Jane,

    This is really helpful, especially since I recently switched to mailchimp and I also have a multi-niche blog – very similar to yours! :) Though I’m very much still trying to figure out the basics of the system since every system is different. I’m excited about it, it offers a lot more features than the last service that I was with.

    Have a great day!
    Stacy recently posted..Fight the ResistanceMy Profile

  17. Heather C Stephens @ blog marketing ideasHeather C Stephens @ blog marketing ideas says

    Hi Jane,

    Loved this post and I wondered if it would work to use different opt ins and different offers for each niche your blog serves. Take a peek at the free marketing ecourses Naomi over at has created with separate opt ins for each of them. That way she can talk to each segment of her list differently and target her content to them specifically.

    Great job and thanks for the reminder to clean house. With my computer crashing, I’m cleaning house and being selective which programs and files I add back to my computer. Some summertime cleaning may be in order for my blog and list too. :)

    Thanks for the tips, Jane!

  18. John CooperJohn Cooper says

    Hi Jane,
    From my past EXPERIENCES :) I must say that Don’t talk so much on first date. Especially about yourself. Women love it when you’re curious about them and show an interest in giving them attention. They also love a man who can hold a decent conversation. You could talk about politics, your careers, the ridiculous gas prices, or why the Fugees broke up. Doesn’t really matter what subjects you choose, as long as they’re not boring.

  19. Adrian@ShedsAdrian@Sheds says

    A messy life is inevitable if you are not capable of organizing yourself. You would look pathetic. And, I think people don’t like seeing people like that. My suggestion would be: get yourself together and learn to breathe sometimes.

  20. Pearl JewelryPearl Jewelry says

    Wow, that’s a great idea. For a subscriber, it is good that he doesn’t get all the unwanted things in his inbox; and, you get a target audience. If I may just suggest you an extension to your process, keep sending your reminder mails to people who had not replied to you ‘Clean-up’ mail. Will incorporate some of your process. Thanks.

  21. adnan@googleadnan@google says

    This is one of the best posts I have ever read because you were kind enough to share exactly how you did and the fact that you got such a positive reaction is awesome and very encouraging.

  22. Julius from IceCreamMakerJulius from IceCreamMaker says

    Hi jane!I just visit your site but it looks interesting. Your tips are informative hopefully I can apply this if I’ll start to clean up my list too and bear in mind what is useful for me.

  23. RicoRico says

    Doing spring cleaning on your lists every so often is encouraged just as you should with everything else. Sometimes you aren’t giving people the value they want or pushing them away, others may just be deadweight either by not using their email any more or just consistently not responding to your stuff. Also, doing the process your way makes them feel more personally involved and invested, cultivating a stronger relationship.

  24. SudhanSudhan says

    This is a good decision. his is my first visit to your blog as I am new to blogging and related stuffs. It is really a hard thing for me to find a good blog like yours and the clean split is a very good idea to stop spamming other’s blogs. It will be very useful if all follow the same kind of email sending strategy. You are a pioneer. Keep going.

  25. Jens-Petter Berget says

    This is interesting Jane. What I’ve done is segment my email list in two, 1) new readers 2) long time readers. It’s not the best solution, but this way I know who’s been reading my emails and blog posts for a long time. And I send specific emails to them.

  26. Amy Hagerup says

    I’m so glad you preposted this. I too have a multi-niche blog and will definitely try this strategy out. I will also put the question in one of the early followups so people can declare their interest early on. Thanks, Jane. Amy

  27. Nisha Pandey says

    Hi Jane,
    Thanks for sharing your ideas and experiences here. Yes,
    Email marketing is booming in Digital Marketing industry. Segmenting an
    email list is a good idea.

    Getting an irrelevant mails are really irritating and we can loose our subscribers. So, better option is
    to separate the email list.

    Thanks again for the wonderful article. Really helpful. Have a lovely weekend!

  28. Jerry Low says

    Great advice Jane.

    One thing I would add is that – segmentation does not stop at email subscribers only.

    Some time ago I tried segmenting my site visitors and served them different version of site sidebar (ie. readers who came to WHSR for blogging tips were served with only blogging-related topics at the sidebar, etc). And as you would expected, the various sidebar practice worked awesomely. Bounce rates and time on site improved greatly.

  29. Baju I Am says

    Hi Jane, thanks a lot for a useful article.

    I’m new in email marketing. Need your advice on building up a list – I recently received an email from a friend of mine who thought that I could use his help by selling me a list of 10k email addresses he gathered from his blogs. Is this a good idea?

    Thanks a lot.


  30. PravinPravin says

    Hi Jane!

    It’s a great idea!! And i hope it work so well for you. I am still actively trying to build my list so am not yet ready to clean it.

    Thanks for the information!


  1. How I Cleaned Up, Split Up And Became More Useful…

    Subscribers are the life blood of every blogger. For a multi-niche blog, organizing the list is highly important to make email newsletters more useful to subscribers….

  2. A Useful Email Marketing Strategy…

    Subscribers are the life blood of every blogger. For a multi-niche blog, organizing the list is highly important to make email newsletters more useful to subscribers….

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