Email marketing

How to use targeted email marketing for ecommerce

Reading Time: 8 minutes

Today, users are actively looking for a personalized customer experience. Targeted email marketing is a great way to respond to that need by ensuring that the messages those customers receive are always relevant.

In this article, I’m going to tackle everything you need to know to be successful in targeted email marketing. By the end, you’ll know how to create targeted emails that sound like they’re coming from a close friend rather than a company.

Let’s jump in.

What is targeted email marketing?

Targeted email marketing is sending specifically targeted email campaigns to subscribers based on their segmented characteristics, like profile data, behavior, location, etc.

By segmenting your subscribers and sending targeted email campaigns, you can craft a more relevant message for customers who fall into a certain segment. The more detailed your segments, the more relevant the message.

But why create a targeted email marketing campaign? Don’t the batch and blast methods work?

Benefits of targeted email marketing

There’s no denying that email marketing is powerful: according to Gartner data, email was the best-performing marketing channel in 2021 .

But you can only really harness that power if your emails are personalized.
Think about it–no customer is going to be interested in a message that’s not relevant to them. Would you be?

By creating segments of your contacts, you’re giving yourself the opportunity to create more relevant messages tailored to different customers. This helps you build a relationship with them.

And it comes as no surprise that when you send people a relevant message, they’re more likely to engage with it . This means higher open, click-through, and conversion rates.

Most importantly, it means a higher ROI. So, let’s sum this up:

  • Segmenting allows you to send a more relevant message
  • Customers are going to be more interested in the message and engage more
  • Segmenting improves ROI of email marketing .
  • Customers are less likely to become inactive and retain easier

Despite all of these clear benefits of using targeted email marketing, a whopping 51% of marketers don’t segment their email lists.

Whether that comes from a misunderstanding of the channel, a lack of resources, or a lack of time, it’s a waste of the most valuable channel you have.

So I’m going to show you what you need to know to create an excellent targeted email marketing campaign to boost your email ROI.

How to create a targeted email marketing campaign

There are a few steps you’ll need to take when segmenting your subscribers for a targeted email campaign. If you already have a sizable list, this might take a bit of setup.

However, once you determine what your segments are, you’ll be able to auto-segment your contacts when you create targeted emails from this point on. Maintenance will be next to nothing.

Define what data you need

The first thing you need to do when creating a targeted email marketing campaign is to define the kinds of segments you need for your online store .

There are a lot of basic segments you’ll likely want to have, but they usually fall into a few different categories:

  • Profile data : demographics, location, age, gender, and any other valuable data
  • Campaign activity : opened/not opened, clicked/not clicked, inactive, etc
  • Shopping behavior : recently purchased, purchased once, purchases regularly, abandoned cart, browse abandonment, etc

While the above segments should be a staple for your targeted email marketing campaigns, you might also choose others that are pertinent for your specific ecommerce store.

For example, if you specialize in winter wear, you could have a segment based on whether or not a customer prefers black coats or brown coats. Or whether they prefer peacoats to puffer coats.

Being able to segment based on preferences means that you’re only showing the products your customer has the highest probability of being interested in.

So, think about the data that you need to target your email campaigns properly:

  • Email address
  • Name
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Interests /preferences

Plus anything else that you think might be useful. Once you define your the data you need, you can adjust your opt-in forms, surveys, and lead magnets to capture that information.

Connect your channels: CRM + email marketing platform + online store

A great way to unify the data across your store, CRM, and email platform is to connect the three.

This is a great way to not only make sure your information is in the same place, but also to make sure that your information is updating on each of those platforms as your customers are acquired, retained, churned, and everything in between.

Create buyer’s personas based on those segments

Creating a marketing persona based on the data you use is critical for this next part. For each segment, you’ll need to create a separate buyer’s persona.


Because it’s easier to write when you know who you’re talking to . You wouldn’t talk to a woman in her 40s from Brooklyn the same way you’d talk to a 17-year-old guy from rural Missouri.

You want to know your customer, put a face and a name to them. So you create a buyer’s persona to achieve this. Let’s say you sell casual to business casual fashion for women.

Your buyer’s persona should include vital information:

  • Name (it doesn’t have to be your customer’s actual name, it’s a symbol)
  • Job role (especially if you’re selling clothing or other things for work)
  • Likes, dislikes, hobbies, interests
  • Age, gender, location, revenue, family, etc
  • What they want–ideally the problem you solve
  • The message that your brand offers this customer

Obviously, you’re not necessarily going to have all of this data. It’s awesome if you do, but chances are, you won’t.

You’re likely to have more than one segment when creating targeted email campaigns. To make them work, you should have separate personas for each segment.

What you can also do is create a typical road map for each customer persona so you know how to communicate with that specific customer, no matter where they are in their purchase journey. This will also help you make your emails personalized for each customer.

Create content specifically for those customers

Now that you’re armed with your handy customer personas, you can begin crafting the perfect email to each customer type.

Using your persona, write your email copy and headlines as if the person was sitting in the room with you:

  • What would you say to that person?
  • How can you help them get what they need?
  • What kind of offer would interest them?

While this might seem abstract, let’s say you created a buyer’s persona of Brie, a businesswoman from Brooklyn who is in her 40s. Let’s also say you want to send her a targeted email for a holiday sale.

However, we’re past the point of shipping for Christmas–so she’s likely not shopping online for last-minute gifts. But chances are, she’s probably got a New Years’ party to go to, and you still have time to get a swanky dress out to her.

See, Brie needs a nice new party dress–and thanks to the products she searches for and her purchase history with you, you know she likes to keep it classy. Showing more formal party dresses to her will be much more relevant.

After all, she just spent all that money on Christmas gifts. She should treat herself! A discount will give her even more incentive to do so.

Obviously, you wouldn’t target this campaign towards the younger female customers. This might be too sophisticated, and they have less disposable income. So using your persona created for your younger segments, you would create content specifically for them.

It goes without saying that this idea of creating content specifically for each segment also translates well to your PPC and social media campaigns.

Choose a great email marketing platform

Email is powerful on its own , but if you’re looking to create the best targeted email marketing campaigns, go with a platform that offers smart segmentation .

You ideally want a targeted email marketing service that:

A great email marketing tool will give you ways to segment based on profile data that you create from your customer personas.

Segmenting by shopping behavior is imperative for targeted email marketing, as you can pinpoint your customers with the most relevant message in their customer journey .

For example, if a customer abandons a cart , it’s always a great idea to automate emails to go out to those customers and show them the product they left in limbo. This is where product recommendations is another great feature of an email marketing tool.

A great email tool will also allow you to auto-segment your contacts at capture. For example, if you capture an email from your product page, it won’t necessarily have the same message as someone captured from your blog or a lead magnet page. Segmenting those email contacts as they come in means less work for you in the long run.

Finally, an outstanding email marketing tool will harness omnichannel marketing by allowing you to connect several marketing channels to unify data collection and your customer’s experience. How much more powerful would your email campaigns be if you could pair them with a well-timed SMS and a convenient Google Ad?

Regardless of what email marketing platform you choose, making sure they have these basics will make your targeted ecommerce marketing campaigns all the smoother.

Measure and test your targeted email marketing campaign

So once you follow all of these tips, you’re done and your emails will be amazing forever right?


The fact is, when you’re using targeted email marketing, you’re never done .

Your customers won’t be the same forever, and your messages might get stale after a while, especially if you don’t change it up every now and then.

Aside from that, you should be reacting to the data from your campaigns. If you have customers that stop engaging, figure out why they’ve stopped with some A/B testing . You should be A/B testing regularly with your promos, your subject lines, and various other elements around your campaigns.

You have tons of data–use it to your advantage to achieve the best results. Also, you can find a lot of useful resources to deepen your knowledge like blog articles or email marketing courses .

Wrapping up

Using targeted email marketing can be tricky, unless you know what you need to do. Putting the customer at the center of your marketing strategy should be the goal, no matter what kind of channel you decide to use.

When you put your customer at the center of your strategy, gathering this kind of data and tailoring your campaigns and messages to each of them is like second nature. Using targeted email marketing is child’s play at that point.

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