Many email marketers who use Microsoft Outlook rarely focus on the one thing that that almost always results in increased responses: contact list segmentation. In this post I am going to show you how you can use Outlook categories to segment your contacts.
What is segmentation and why does it work?
Segmentation basically means dividing your email list into smaller groups (or segments). Each contact can be part of one or more segments.
So why does segmentation work? It allows you to give your contacts more personalized attention.
You are now able to send out more specific emails targeted to people who are interested in that particular topic. This always results in higher open rates, click rates and response rates.
It also means less annoyed customers received emails on topics that they are not interested in.
How to you segment your list?
We will use Categories (a feature built into Outlook) to segment our contacts.
1. Make a list of the Segments (Categories) that you will use
What are the key elements to distinguish your customers? It could be product, company size, region… whatever makes sense to your business.
Make a list of these segments. For example, we have a range of products at Standss that are reasonably different. We could therefore segment our list based on products.
- Email Merge PRO for Outlook
- Quick File for Outlook
- Send Guard for Outlook
- Email Tags for Outlook
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- Email Notes for Outlook
I also like to keep a separate segment of our Volume License Customers since they have further requirements for deployment, control and support.
Volume License Customers
2. Add the Categories to Outlook’s Master List (of Categories)
Go to your Contacts folder in Outlook.
Right-click over a contact and click Categorize and then click All Categories.
Click New and enter the Name of your category. You can also choose a color if you want but I generally select None. Click OK.
Hint: You will see that I have named my category ml_EmailMerge instead of just EmailMerge. I use the ml_ in front of all my segment names to indicate that they are my mailing list categories. The master category list appears in all parts of Outlook (emails, appointments, tasks etc). By putting the ml_ in front of my mailing list categories, I can get them to appear together in the list when they are displayed alphabetically.
3. Assign your contacts to the relevant segments.
Go to your Contacts folder in Outlook.
Right-click over a contact and click Categorize.
You can click the category from the list or you can click All Categories and then select multiple categories for a contact if you want.
Repeat for all relevant contacts.
Viewing Your Various Segments
Once you have your contacts segmented, you will need Outlook to show you the contacts by segment so that you can use them easily.
Go to your Contacts Folders.
Click on the View Tab and Click on Categories (which will be in the Arrangement group)
Your contacts will now be displayed grouped by Categories. Contacts will be displayed more than once if they are in more than one category.
You can simply type the name of the Category in the Outlook Search box and only matching contacts will be shown
How to use your Categories/Segments in Sales and Marketing Emails
The next time you need to send out an email that is relevant only to a particular segment, display the list of contacts in the segment as explain above.
Then create your email and send it out only to the people in that segment.
I guarantee that you will get much better responses rates… and you will also get less emails from annoyed contacts asking to be removed from your list (since you will only be contacting people who are genuinely interested in your email).
Fine-Tuning Outlook emails to segments (Better Responses in Less Time)
If you want to get even better response rates, you should send out personally addressed emails to your contacts.
This means that each email should only have one contact’s name in the To field. You may even want to personalise the email with the contact’s name and other details.
This can be time-consuming to do if you try and do it by hand.
We recommend Email Merge Pro for Outlook. Email Merge Pro installs inside Outlook and uses a step-by-step Wizard to quickly create and send out personalized emails to selected contacts.
Best of all, the emails will still be sent out from Outlook instead of looking like emails from a mailing service. This is extremely important, particularly if you are dealing with larger customers.
Email Merge Pro has full support for Categories so that you can easily send out emails to segments when you need to.