How to Use Segmentation to Boost Cold Email Engagement

photo of email list segmentation
photo of Veloxy's CEO Samir Majumdar

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How to Use Segmentation to Boost Cold Email Engagement

photo of email list segmentation

Helping you prevent the dreaded list fatigue

While your competition may be scaling back their cold email outreach, there is a simple strategy you can use to scale up your cold emailing—list segmentation.

What is email list segmentation? It’s the practice of continuously reviewing your database or CRM for prospects with similar characteristics and grouping them together. This is done to not just shrink your email blast size but to greatly improve the relevancy of your messaging.

You may think this is a lot of work. When you consider that companies are finding new ways to filter out emails that look like SPAM, and prospects are opting out of cold email outreach more than ever before due to irrelevant messaging, the time is now to improve your list segmentation.

Cold Email List Segmentation Best Practices

While it may seem complex to the average novice, the recommendations shared are straightforward and offer plenty of “Eureka!” moments that can deliver rapid results.

Start using these best practices today and watch your email response rates and sender reputation increase!

Set Up Salesforce for Success.

Segmentation begins with your customer relationship management platform. Salesforce, the world’s most popular CRM, gives you the ability to create custom lead, contact, and account fields. These are helpful for cold email segmentation and cold call personalization.

Here’s an example. Let’s say you’re sending a cold email campaign to the buyer persona Jane Doe. You include two links in the email, each link is represented by a unique pain point. 50% of the prospects click ‘pain point a’, 30% click ‘pain point b’, and 20% click both. These actions are instantly mapped back to Salesforce to populate each record’s ‘pain point’ field.

That’s just one powerful example on how Salesforce can improve your cold email segmentation with behavioral data. Behavioral data is only collected when your customer performs an action, whether it be with a cold email, your company’s website, or something else.

Demographic and feedback data are also useful for list segmentation. Demographic data is the basic points such as city, state, company size, and the like. Feedback data is any insight gathered from surveys, polls, user testing, and other forms where customers answer questions.

Study Your Best Customers.

Another way you can harness the power of your CRM for segmentation is by studying your best customers.

Start by exporting all of the CRM data for your best customers. Sort each and every data field looking for similar attributes that the best customers possess. This can include company size, industry, pain points, past competitive presence—the options are almost endless.

Identify patterns with your best customer personas. For example, 70% may be small to medium sized businesses who struggle with the same two pain points, and 50% may have replaced the same competitor with your solution.

Now that you have a better idea of who your best customer is, go to your prospects and list sources and segment them by this criteria. This will not only improve your cold email engagement rates, but it will also help your close rates.

Lastly, don’t forget to also segment by your “almost best personas”. Find patterns where your confidence level may not be one hundred percent, but further testing and data may demonstrate otherwise over time. Perhaps you observe 15% of your customers used to be a client of a lesser known competitor. Always be testing to improve segmentation!

photo representing list segmentation

Track for Recency and Frequency.

One of the lowest hanging fruit opportunities for segmenting lists is to track your prospects’ email engagement.

First, you want to track for recency. This simply means how recently each prospect has performed a specific behavior, such as opening an email, clicking a link, or visiting your website.

Second, cold email segmentation gets very powerful when you couple recency with frequency. If a prospect has engaged with your content multiple times in the past three days, rest assured you’re top of mind, thereby improving your chances of them replying or taking your call.

Here’s a friendly reminder. Prospects can be a member of more than one segment. They can be a best customer match and have had recent and frequent engagement with a cold email sequence, so don’t forget to incorporate lead scoring into your segmentation strategy.

Always Be Splitting Segments.

Whether you’re a sales rep or a sales manager, you want to make sure that your team is working closely with two people—the one who manages buyer personas and the one who manages data analytics. More times than not these colleagues will be in the marketing department.

Let’s say your company focuses on five buyer personas. Let’s also say that your competitor keys in on 13 buyer personas. Who do you think has a higher rate of success?

While this isn’t exclusive to personas, the point I’m trying to make here is that you should always be working to detect new data patterns to further segment your lists (and personas!).

For example, if you have one buyer persona named John Doe, and after reviewing last year’s data you noticed that 55% share three of the same pain points, whereas 45% do not, you may want to start testing whether or not you have two personas under one umbrella.

Continually segmenting can also be applied to messaging, especially when you’re leveraging recency and frequency. This practice is most common when you enter prospects into a drip campaign and you set rules to increase email sends and decrease the days between sends for high frequency and recency prospects.

photo of reps reviewing email lists

Do What the Data Tells You.

Say no to guesswork. One of the biggest reasons you should be improving segmentation exponentially is to replace guessing with data driven insights.

If the data is telling you that a segment of prospects are 82% likely to open emails on Tuesday morning between 8:00am and 8:30am—send the email. While there is a time and place for “overthinking”, data can help you eliminate the times overthinking cripples you and your team’s progress.

Another reason you want to use data with segmentation is to improve your sender reputation. We all know the SPAM, CASL, and GDPR concerns that surround cold emailing. However, it’s been proven that the more predictable and the more segmented your email sends are, the less likely they are to be flagged or sent to the SPAM folder.

Use Surveys to Improve Email Segmentation.

Here’s my favorite way to segment cold email lists—research!

If you already have a research program in place, be sure that the data is added to your CRM and that it is thoroughly reviewed to discover data points for potential email segmentation.

Whether you have a research program or not, don’t hold back your creativity to acquire more customer feedback. One way is to gate content on your website with a simple question. Studies have proven that the shorter the form, the higher the conversions. Furthermore, the more intriguing the question, the more curious the prospect.

Another way is to invite prospects to fill out a survey. You can incentivize them by entering their name into a doorprize, or by giving them a small token of appreciation, such as a Starbucks gift card. These are very popular in B2B as the results are often collected, presented in a webinar, and summarized in an ebook or whitepaper.

Start Segmenting Your Prospect Lists

As you can see, list segmentation for cold emailing is vital to your outreach success.

But I can’t leave you without sharing two bonus recommendations. First, make sure your cold email software comes with email tracking—a perfect tool for discovering more segmentation points.

And second, always be verifying your email lists. There are quite a few options out there for removing outdated emails. We like to use NeverBounce or Clearout for email deliverability. 


Samir Majumdar

Samir Majumdar

Samir is the CEO and Co-founder of Veloxy. After spending 20+ years creating corporate systems, boosting revenue, and eliminating inefficiencies, Samir started Veloxy to help sales professionals shorten sales cycles, accelerate pipelines, and close more deals.

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