nonprofit email marketing segmentation

Nonprofit Email Marketing: Don’t Forget Segmentation

List segmentation is an area that can make or break your nonprofit email marketing efforts. The purpose of segmenting is rooted in the fact that people subscribe to your email communications for different reasons, and the more relevant you can be to individuals’ interests, the more effective your email marketing will be.

What is Email Segmentation?

Segmenting your email list simply means grouping your subscribers, usually by interest or activity. If your nonprofit isn’t already segmenting, one easy segment to start off with is whether or not a subscriber is a donor.

Our client CreakyJoints has over 10 segments, most of them by interest. There are many places someone can join CreakyJoints’ email list:

1) by going to their homepage and signing up

2) by opting into email alerts for their monthly Twitter chat

3) by participating in an educational partner webinar

4) by reading their news articles about the latest drug recalls

All of these subscribers go into the same single email list, but where they registered (CreakyChats, Partner Webinar, Recall) is indicated as a segment. In addition to each segment having its own personalized email welcome series, the segmentation allows us to be more personalized in future email efforts.

For example, if we have a major initiative launching, like our Arthritis Power research initiative, we may want to use more community-oriented language for people who subscribed via the CreakyChats page and use an education angle for people who subscribed via a partner webinar. Segmenting your list allows your communications to be more relevant, therefore leading to higher engagement and response from your subscribers.

What’s the Impact of Email Segmentation?

Mailchimp reports that an email sent to an interest-based segment receives a 73.48% higher click rate than a non-segmented email and a 9.96% higher open rate.

A Nonprofit Email Marketing Case Study

Here’s one example of how that proved true for CreakyJoints. CreakyJoints helps host a regular webinar called Joint Decisions. In June, people who registered for the webinar and opted into CreakyJoints’ email communications were added to its main email list under the segment “Joint Decisions Participants.”

At the time, CreakyJoints was recruiting heavily for their important research registry called Arthritis Power. We sent an email to our segment that reminded them of how they got on our email list (by thanking them for participating in our Joint Decisions webinar), and as new members of our community, we invited them to enjoy early access to Arthritis Power. By crafting an email with language that instantly resonated with the segment, this email had double the open rate of our non-segmented Arthritis Power recruitment emails.

If your nonprofit is seeking to become more sophisticated in its email marketing efforts, don’t underestimate the power of segmentation.

For more tips on email marketing, check out these resources:


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