There’s a lot of competition among e-commerce retailers. Increasingly, getting your products or services noticed means anticipating customer needs and meeting leads where they are — that’s where targeted email marketing excels. When done right, it can increase conversions, encourage repeat sales, and help customers build a more personal relationship with your brand.

What is targeted email marketing?

Targeted email marketing involves creating email campaigns that send messages to subscribers based on demographics or interests. Rather than sending the same content to every subscriber, a targeted email campaign differentiates its messaging based on customer segmentation. 

Customer segmentation is the process of grouping new leads or existing customers based on characteristics like age, location, gender, occupation, and purchasing patterns. Creating these groups involves gathering customer data either by requesting it from customers directly or by analyzing website visits and previous purchases.

These groups can be as broad or as detailed as you want them to be. You can start small by defining two or three different customer segments, then widen your segmentation into additional groups as you gather more data. Gathering more detailed data can take more time and effort, but the more detailed the segmentation is, the more relevant your message will be.

Benefits of targeted email marketing

Email marketing revenue is on the rise and is expected to continue increasing in the coming years. Every company can benefit from email marketing, but for e-commerce businesses, it’s an essential tool to keep your brand top of mind.

Here are a few of the perks you can look forward to when you embark on a targeted email marketing campaign.

Improving email relevancy and ROI

Your subscribers are more likely to act on messages that relate to their needs. Use segmentation to create target messaging that speaks to their interests. The greater your email’s relevancy, the more likely they are to read it and take action.

Building better customer relationships

Targeted email marketing helps you develop stronger relationships with customers. Rather than sending generic emails to your entire subscriber base, customizing your message for different segments gives your marketing a personal touch, and tells customers that you care about their needs beyond selling a product.

Enhancing customer retention

When segmenting based on purchasing patterns, you can appeal to existing customers by sending timely reminders about products you know they’re interested in. By anticipating their purchases and offering products tailored to their tastes, you can dissuade them from switching to the competition.

Increasing response and revenue

Customized emails will increase your response rate in the form of more opens and clicks. Higher response rates mean more subscribers moving down the sales funnel, which results in more conversions down the line.

How to create a targeted email campaign

Developing a targeted email campaign strategy starts with identifying your goals.

What are you hoping to achieve with your email marketing? More site visitors? More purchases? More demos? Decide what outcomes are most important to your business strategy, then build your campaign around them by following these steps.

1. Define your customer segments

The first step in creating targeted email marketing lists is defining how to segment your audience. Typically, marketers divide their segments into several different categories:

  • Profile data: A customer’s profile data includes identifying information about them, such as demographics, age, gender, and location.
  • Campaign activity: Marketers can separate subscribers based on their prior engagement, such as open rates and click rates.
  • Shopping behavior: Your customer’s shopping behavior includes previous purchases, browsing activities, and abandoned cart items.

You can create multiple segmentation categories based on the data you have.

2. Gather necessary information for targeted marketing

To begin your targeted bulk email marketing efforts, you’ll need information about your subscribers. Use any data you’ve accumulated from their interactions with your brand to initiate the process. 

One option is to include requests for a few key pieces of demographic information in your email list sign-up form. This helps subscribers self-segment into your targeted email content. You can also ask for customer details when they make a purchase. If you allow your clients to create an account on your website, you can track the pages they interact with to learn more about their interests.

Once you know who your customers are, you can segment them into different groups based on the details you have.

3. Use a CRM to manage customer data

A customer relationship management (CRM) system helps manage all your customer information in one place. You can connect it to all of your different marketing channels, including social media accounts, email messaging platforms, text messaging services, and other tools. 

Your CRM can help you in the segmentation process, allowing you to securely and conveniently store customer data and use it to develop your campaign.

4. Create buyer personas for each customer segment

A buyer persona outlines the characteristics of your customer base, including their demographics, motivations, pain points, potential objections, and interests. Once you’ve gathered enough data from your customers, you can develop these personas to help you better understand their needs and goals. You can use the insights from buyer personas to create targeted email campaigns that align with your subscribers’ needs. 

5. Choose the right email marketing service

There are many different targeted email marketing services on the market, so it’s important to choose one that offers the tools you need to craft effective emails. Some helpful features to look for include:

  • Pre-designed email templates: Email templates speed up the time it takes to produce your emails. They also make your emails appear more professional and streamlined. 
  • Mobile optimization: A large portion of your subscriber base will read their emails on mobile devices, like phones or tablets. Look for an email marketing service that provides support for mobile optimization.
  • Robust analytics: Reviewing the results of your email marketing campaigns allows you to determine if your strategy is working or if you need to make adjustments. Choose an email marketing service that offers tracking and analysis tools as part of the package.
  • Third-party integrations: Some email marketing services integrate directly with third-party apps and subscription services, saving you manual effort and streamlining your marketing processes.
  • Automation: With automation tools, you can establish email sequences and schedule your campaigns in advance.

6. Develop personalized content for target segments

Customizing your content for each client segment helps you develop stronger bonds with your customers. Include messaging that speaks to your client’s specific goals or needs. To understand what those needs are, you’ll need to gather data about your customer’s interests, demographics, and how they engage with your brand.

You might offer product recommendations based on a customer’s browsing history or prior purchases. Recognizing important dates — such as your subscriber’s birthday or anniversary — is another good way to connect with customers. It also helps to personalize your email’s subject line using their name or other personal details.

7. Launch automated marketing campaigns

Automation can significantly streamline your email marketing efforts, enhance your customer relationships, and boost subscriber engagement. You can establish automated email sequences triggered by your subscriber’s actions. For instance, you might send a welcome email when they subscribe to your targeted lists for email marketing and initiate a drip campaign to gently push them toward making a purchase.

Automation tools allow you to schedule emails in advance, and you can use them to personalize your messages. For example, you might set up automated emails for special birthday discounts or anniversary congratulations.

Constant Contact provides a comprehensive email marketing platform that includes automation tools for drip campaigns, email creation, and scheduling. Use it to manage your entire email marketing campaign from start to end.

Segmenting your email list

Developing targeted lists for email marketing starts with understanding who your typical buyers are and what motivates them to buy. These are just a few possible categories you can use to segment your audience.


Geographic segmentation involves categorizing customers according to their location and language. It’s helpful if you have customers in different cities, states, regions, or countries. For instance, if you have customers in Canada and Mexico, you could tailor your content to regional and language preferences.

Example of customer segmentation by categories or tags. Source: Constant Contact


Lifecycle segmentation is the process of targeting subscribers based on where they are in the buying process.

If a subscriber is new to your mailing list, you might send them a welcome email and information about what they can expect from your brand. People who have already purchased from you might receive discount coupons or recommendations for other products.


Behavior segmentation involves classifying customers according to their interactions with your brand. 

Example of segmenting by user behavior: setting rules based on contacts who opened prior emails. Source: Constant Contact

Website activity, prior purchases, buying frequency, and recent customer engagement are all tools you can use to separate subscribers into various groups. For example, you might send a reminder email to a customer when their subscription is about to expire or recommend a complementary product for a recent purchase.


Gender-based segmentation is helpful if you have products tailored exclusively for men or women, such as clothing. It can also be useful if your data indicates that your customers are primarily men or women, so you can focus your efforts on the group more likely to make a purchase.


Preference-based segmentation involves classifying clients according to their specific preferences. For instance, you might provide subscribers with the option to select how frequently they hear from you and segment them accordingly.

Purchase frequency

Purchase frequency segmentation is helpful for clients who purchase at different intervals from you. For example, if you have a SaaS product offering different subscription lengths, you can remind customers of their renewal based on their purchase terms.

Devising pre-segmentation and post-segmentation strategies

Typically, email segmentation falls into two categories: pre-segmentation and post-segmentation. Your pre-segmentation email strategy concerns the content you share before learning about your audience’s interests and demographics. It can include things like welcome emails and general information about your company. 

You can incorporate post-segmentation strategies after you learn more about your subscribers and decide on how to categorize them. Your post-segmentation strategy will move away from generalizations to more personalized content.

Measuring your success

You won’t know whether your campaign strategies are working unless you evaluate your results. Establishing key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with your goals for the campaign can help you analyze results and determine whether they’re meeting your expectations.  

Analyzing your email campaigns

Analytics can help you review the results of your campaign. Evaluating your open rates, click-throughs, and conversions will help you understand your performance. You can compare your results against pre-established benchmarks to determine if you’re meeting your expectations.

Conducting A/B tests for optimization

A/B tests are a great strategy for targeted bulk email marketing. Try changing different aspects of your messages, such as your subject line or images, and send different emails to a small portion of your subscribers. You can send a wider group the email that generates the best response from your A/B test.

Reaching your full potential

Targeted emails require more than just segmentation to be effective. The following methods will help your digital marketing strategy soar. 

Use a CRM

Consider using tools like a CRM platform to manage your email campaigns and subscriber data. Constant Contact’s lead generation CRM can help you attract more clients — and ultimately, generate more sales — through email digital marketing.

Drive high ROI with targeted email marketing

Targeted email marketing is one of the best ways to drive ROI. Since you’re tailoring your content to each subscriber’s interests, buying motivations, demographics, and other factors, they’re more likely to open it, read it, and take action. When your subscribers convert, it results in a higher campaign ROI.

Know when to target subscribers for conversion

Most customers won’t convert when they first learn of your brand. Instead, you’ll need to warm them up by providing them with informative content and reasons to purchase from you.

Initiating a drip campaign can help you attract their interest and learn more about what motivates them. As you gather more information about their needs, you can take a more sales-oriented approach to your email strategy.

Advanced techniques and considerations

Once you’re familiar with the ins and outs of building a targeted email campaign, consider these more advanced techniques for maximizing its effectiveness.

Optimizing for ultimate success

Your work doesn’t end once you’ve fully implemented your targeted email campaign. Instead, continue to review your results, compare them against your benchmarks, and tweak your strategies and content as needed. Regularly assessing your performance can help you optimize for continued advancement.

Focus on click-through rates

Ultimately, open rates and read rates don’t determine the effectiveness of your campaign; a conversion does. Experiment with different tactics and messaging strategies to increase your click-throughs. Time-sensitive offers and valuable collateral can help encourage more subscribers to click through. Track, analyze, and adjust your campaign strategies overtime to achieve positive results. 

Legal and ethical considerations of email marketing

When developing any email marketing campaign, it’s important to ensure compliance with laws about data collection and use. They vary by state and country, and you should familiarize yourself with them to avoid breaking regulations.

When building your subscriber list, be sure to get your customers’ consent to receive marketing materials from you. Sending a verification email after they opt-in provides additional confirmation that they want to receive your messages. 

Focus on growing your list organically through ethical means. While it may take some time and effort to build your subscriber list, you’ll end up with a genuine, attentive audience that wants to hear from you.


Strengthen customer relationships with targeted email marketing

Targeted email marketing campaigns for e-commerce are some of the best ways to develop strong customer relationships and boost your sales. To run an effective campaign, you’ll have to get to know your audience — who they are, what they want, and how they like to be approached. The effort will pay off in the form of stronger brand loyalty and more conversions.

Constant Contact provides tons of materials that can assist you in your efforts. Check out our comprehensive guide to email marketing for small businesses to hone your skills, our lead gen and CRM product features to manage sales, and download our automation guide to help you run smoother campaigns with less manual effort. 

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