Foolproof guide to Segmentation
How to action your data

In this guide, we’re breaking down everything you need to know about segmentation so you can put your data to work. Deeper insight into customers and subscribers, increased personalization, and advanced targeting - confidently take your email strategy to the next level, maximize engagement and drive revenue.

What are segments?

Brushing up on the segmentation basics you need to know

Ultimately, email is about communication and building relationships with your audience. Marketers can use segmentation to send relevant and timely messages to subscribers rather than just sending mass emails - making your relationship feel more like a conversation than spam.

"Segmentation lets you build relationships with customers through emails that feel like a conversation, not spam.

Segments let you group subscribers by specific criteria based on the qualities that are important to your brand - like location, past purchases, or purchase amount. Segmentation is typically used to send targeted, personalized emails to these specific groups of contacts, allowing you to build campaigns that feel custom to your audience.

Leveraging segmentation in your email strategy is a powerful way to use your data to gain deeper insight into subscribers, and make sure you’re sending the right emails to the right customers.

Dynamic vs. static segments

An important piece to consider in your strategy is how to leverage different types of segments. Understanding the differences between static and dynamic segments will let you action your data in the best possible way. Do you want your segment to automatically refresh and evolve, or stay the same unless you manually add to it? Static and dynamic segments each have their own place in segmentation:

Static segments

Static segments capture all the subscribers that match your filters at the time you’re creating the segment. These segments stay the same until you add or remove subscribers manually.

Static segments are good for importing data, especially during the migration process. If you're importing data to a one-time use segment, we recommend deleting the segment after you’ve migrated to keep your CRM organized. These segments often come from CSVs and offline signups (like in person events). They’re not, for example, automatically pulled in from your website.

They can also be used to capture a specific audience you want to retarget, like those who purchased a specific product or event no-shows.

Dynamic (live) segments

Dynamic segments (known as Live Segments on Hive) continuously update as subscribers match or no longer match the criteria you’ve set. Dynamic segments capture all of the subscribers that match your filters at the time of creation, as well as subscribers that match those filters in the future. Because these segments constantly refresh as customers move through different stages in their relationship with you, there’s no need to worry about manually updating anything.

You can create dynamic segments to represent subscribers that are highly relevant to your brand, like frequent purchasers or subscribers in your target demographics, and watch how they grow over time. Dynamic segments can also be used to trigger specific email automations when a subscriber meets the criteria and enters a segment.

The power of segmentation

Send targeted, personalized emails that feel more like a conversation than spam. Segmented emails are proven to increase engagement and ROI while offering deeper insight into the people in your audience who care most about your brand.

Why segmentation is crucial for marketers

sending to your whole list is so last decade

Though it can be tempting to send every email to everyone on your list, targeting a specific segment will increase opens, click-throughs, and even purchases.

Sending targeted email is known to result in higher engagement, with segmented email campaigns receiving 14% more opens and twice as many clicks-throughs as non-segmented campaigns. Increased engagement is not only good for getting more eyes on your brand - it ultimately benefits your deliverability, helping you build a strong sender reputation (and land in more inboxes).

In addition to boosted engagement, segmented emails can dramatically increase your ROI. In fact, segmented emails generate 58% of all email marketing revenue.

" Segments can give you insight into who your subscribers are individually, but in a scalable way.

Beyond improving your email and sales performance, segmentation is a powerful way to understand your audience. Depending on your email service provider (ESP), you can view email and subscriber statistics by segment to hone in on what content is connecting with which customers. Playing with segments can even help you identify your brand’s main buyer personas, giving you insight into who your subscribers are individually, but in a scalable way.

Segments you need to setup

The essential segments all marketers need to target campaigns and build personalized strategies that convert.

Segmenting by engagement level

The foundation of your segmentation strategy

Segmenting your subscribers based on their email engagement is a fundamental piece in a strong segmentation strategy. Subscriber engagement dictates how ISPs rate your sender reputation, and therefore your overall deliverability.

Thinking about segmentation by engagement level will help you clean your list, prune out unengaged and inactive subscribers, and make sure your emails land in inboxes.

Engagement levels are also the foundation for some of the most powerful automations, like welcome and winback emails.

" Segmenting by engagement level is a must for every email marketer.

Some ESPs (like Hive) will automatically segment your contacts into dynamic engagement levels, so you don’t have to worry about manually managing your lists. You can even adjust the variables to determine what an engaged subscriber looks for your brand. Then, when it comes time to send an email, you simply select which of these segments you’d like to include.

Active subscribers

Your bread and butter segment

Your most active subscribers are those who continuously engage with your emails (e.g. subscribers who have engaged with any of your last five emails). What’s considered active might be different for you depending on your brand and how often you send email.

This group is who you want to be sending your core campaigns to. They’ve continuously expressed an interest in hearing from you and are the most likely to open and click your emails.

New subscribers

Freshly opted-in and ready to engage

New subscribers typically show high levels of email engagement soon after they join your list. They’ve recently opted in, so they want to hear from you! You want to treat new subscribers differently - this is your chance to educate them about your brand, and it’s the best time to get them to engage and convert.

Send new subscribers a welcome series, double opt-in confirmation, discount codes, or all of the above. You may want to hold off on sending more general campaigns their way until they’ve been sent any welcome email series you’ve set up, but the right mix will depend on your brand.

At-risk subscribers

Segment subscribers and keep emails relevant

When your subscribers haven’t opened an email recently, it’s likely they’ll need a reason to re-engage with your brand. Similar to active subscribers, you might consider subscribers who have received but not engaged with the last five emails to be at-risk, although you can adjust this number to better align with your brand’s goals if needed.

Your standard email campaigns won’t work to win back this group - they’ve already been un-engaged for some time and need a little extra attention. Re-engage at-risk subscribers with a winback automation - you can even sweeten the deal with a special offer.

Inactive subscribers

Don't wait until it's too late - you my lose them forever

66% of marketers’ email lists are inactive, and subscribers who haven’t engaged in a while are likely to never engage again. At this point, it’s important to create an intentional strategy to win back subscribers, because they’ll continue to ignore you if you send them an irrelevant email.

You should figure out why they’ve been inactive in order to re-engage them effectively. Have they opened your recent emails but not clicked? The content might be interesting but your CTA may not be convincing. Or maybe they haven’t opened your emails in a while - it could be worth sending them a winback email with a discount code.

Invalid subscribers

You never want to accidentally email these contacts

Invalid contacts include people who have unsubscribed from your email list or been marked as invalid (if their email bounced, or was found to be undeliverable). To abide by good email marketing practices and protect your brand’s deliverability, you should never email these contacts.

Segmenting by past behavior

send hyper-targeted campaigns based on unique customer actions

You may know about your subscribers’ interests and behavior based on their website behavior, social media engagement, or preferences they’ve indicated on a signup form. When segmenting by behavior, you’re trying to get ahead of the question, “Based on what this subscriber has done, what are they likely to do in the future?".

Website behavior is one of the most important indicators you can use to connect with your audience. By responding to how customers interact with your brand online, you can continue the conversation and send the right email at exactly the right time. Segmenting by website behavior lets you trigger automations like browse or cart abandonment emails, retarget for items saved in a favorites list, or send specific emails based on topics your subscribers have engaged with online.

If you know more about your subscribers’ specific interests, you can send them more relevant emails, increasing the likelihood they’ll engage. For example, if a subscriber has indicated that they’re explicitly interested in hearing about women’s jeans and accessories, you can promote those specific items in more targeted campaigns.

Segment by purchase history

If you’re an ecommerce brand or event organizer, segmenting your contacts based on their purchase history is a no-brainer. Similar to segmenting based on behavior, you can use customers’ past purchases as the foundation to start a longer conversation.

With purchase behavior, you have an even clearer indicator for how different customers spend money, what they choose to buy, and when they choose to buy it. Segmenting subscribers based on products they’ve purchased or categories they buy from will let you easily retarget them. Think: if a customer has purchased tickets to a pop concert, you can email them about upcoming shows with pop artists.

Another way to segment by purchase history is by looking at buyer cycles. Your customers are on their own schedules, and it’s likely that they don’t necessarily line up with your marketing schedule. Figure out when your customers buy and tailor your emails to their schedule.

Finally, look at the financial value of each subscriber. Identify new customers you want to convert into high value ones, and the subscribers who already are high value customers. You can even filter for those who match the characteristics of your high or frequently spending customers.

Segmenting by demographics

Tailoring content to specific demographics based on their location, gender, age, occupation, or salary is an effective way to get the right message in front of the right people. You can target these segments with details known to perform well with them, whether that’s specific items, events, or content. You might market certain clothing to specific genders, or use language and visuals known to appeal to an age group.

Determining what demographics are most important to you will depend on the specifics of your brand, but the more information you gather about your subscribers, the more you can action your data through these segments.

Segmentation for events

Whether you manage an annual festival, run a venue, or organize multiple events, here are industry best-practices for segmenting your attendee lists to sell more tickets.

Segments for event marketers

the tl;drs to take away from this guide

Whether you manage an annual festival, run a venue, or organize multiple events per week, streamlining your marketing process can have a huge impact on your bottom line. There’s no surprise here - the best way to improve ticket sales is to send each email to relevant segments. If you know a customer has only gone to rap concerts at your venue, you can probably skip sending them updates about an upcoming country festival.

You can also filter on combined segments to really target your message, and use segments to see how much revenue you’re bringing in for different artists, genres, and venues via email. Ultimately, there are countless ways you can use segments to leverage your events brand - here are just a few:

Artist-specific announcements

  • Segment based on artists your subscribers are listening to, signed up to receive updates from, are interacting with on social media, or have previously seen a show of

  • Design emails with artist-specific branding

  • Introduce current fans to similar artists

Merch drops

  • Fans who buy merchandise show a certain level of commitment - you might count these contacts as VIP members or superfans

  • Advertise merch to fans who have attended a specific artist’s show or expressed interest in their music

  • Use ecommerce strategies like cart and browse abandonment automations to capture otherwise lost revenue


  • Segmenting contacts not just by individual artists, but into larger buckets like genres, will allow you to introduce fans to new music

  • Advertise festivals to subscribers who listen to a related genre of music, or if your event covers multiple genres, know which artists to highlight when emailing different groups of contacts

Previously attended events

  • Once an attendee buys a ticket for an event, you immediately get a handful of useful data about their preferences - from the specific artist they’re interested in, to the genre, to which venue they attended. Use this information as a starting point for future artist updates, artists in a similar genre, or venue updates

  • Announce early presale to contacts who have previously attended the same or similar events

Online engagement

  • You can think of online engagement as a direct expression of your attendees’ interests, sending relevant email based on those interests

  • Segment contacts who follow or have interacted with an artist or event on social media

  • Capture new contacts and actionable data by running an online contest


  • Combine location with other segments like genre or artist to announce concerts and events

  • Send venue updates to contacts who have attended events there previously

  • Announce festivals to local contacts or subscribers who have attended concerts in the areas before

  • Send targeted event details exclusively to attendees from out of town (like accommodation information)

Purchase tier

  • Determine how you want to tier your attendees - segment by number of tickets purchased or type of tickets

  • Segment VIP vs. general admission purchasers

  • Offer early access to VIP customers, market VIP event packages, or upsell to larger ticket packages

  • Market presale or other ticket deals to more price-conscious customers

Segmentation for ecommerce

Go beyond the traditional transactional email to send targeted, highly relevant emails. Get creative with how you segment, and use subscriber data to build a customer journey that converts.

Segments for ecommerce

the tl;drs to take away from this guide

Your current email flow most likely covers the fundamentals of the customer lifecycle, like a “welcome” after someone subscribes and a “thank you” when someone completes a purchase.

These emails are customized for a single user’s experience, and are generally triggered by specific behavior. But how else can you segment your contacts to send even more targeted, personalized emails?

By location

  • Segment by location to market promotions, pop-ups, or in-store events in specific regions

  • Target emails with messaging relevant to the local weather so you can avoid promoting snowsuits in the middle of the summer

Buyer cycle

  • Create a segment for new buyers so you can send them an automated welcome, thank you, and discount for their next purchase. Acquiring new customers can cost anywhere from 5 to 25x more than retaining current customers. By encouraging first-time buyers to purchase again, you can build customer loyalty and make a big impact on your business

  • Segment customers who have lapsed to send them winback automations

Past purchases

  • Email customers who have made previous purchases with similar types of items

  • Target your messaging further to include specific sizing information

Reward high value customers

  • Engage high value customers (i.e. top 10% who have spent the most money) to increase their lifetime value and create a positive net promoter effect. On average, 40% of an ecommerce store’s revenue is created by only 8% of its customers, making this a good segment to design targeted emails for

  • Announce sales and special events exclusive to frequent buyers

Cart and browse abandonment

  • Nearly 70% of online shopping carts are abandoned, and 39% of browsers don’t even add items to their carts. Recover lost revenue but segmenting these contacts and sending targeted cart or browse abandonment campaigns

Social media engagement

  • Fans of your brand’s social media are more likely to be engaged via email as well

  • If someone engages with a post about a specific product, you can re-market that product to them over email

Signup source

  • How subscribers signed up for your email list will affect the types of messages you should send, and indicate potential areas of interest. Contacts who signed up for promotions or new product alerts will likely want to receive different email content than blog subscribers