Direct email marketing doesn't have to translate to throwing darts at a wall. Most marketers are aware that they need to create an email marketing list that matches their target demographic but not aware of the tools they have to do so or the fact that they should be narrowing their lists further (yes, "lists" … as in not just one list). Let's explore some of the ways that you can match your target audience to your lists and narrow them down to create specialized lists so that you can provide unique content that has a better chance to convert.

Imagining the Target Audience

First, start with your target audience. (If you don't have one, you really do need one. If you consider the darts metaphor, not having a target audience is like throwing your darts at a blank wall with no dartboard on it at all.) You can narrow your target audience down in several ways, including using demographics: age, gender, ZIP code, profession, or even hobbies. Create your "typical customer" in your head, keeping in mind that there may be plenty of people who may be interested in your product who don't fit that description exactly.

Pulling the Data

Next, you can create a big list of people who fit your target audience and pull emails of those who fit that description. There are plenty of places one can pull information: social media profiles, data from sales and conversion forms on your actual website, and's email lists. (Our email lists are best for a B2B email marketing effort.)

Testing Your Target Audience Theory

Most marketers would then start blasting out emails to that entire list, all with the same content, and consider the matter settled. That doesn't need to be the case, though. The seasoned marketer with a scientific mind would know better than to trust their own perspective on the target audience. They would split up that massive email list into many separate lists, send out one big blast, and see which groups have the most engagement.

Getting Data Back

Compare the data of the people you messaged with the people who converted, and then see if you can find common themes. Is your product or service popular with CEOs or office managers? What is the average age or salary of the people who didn't convert? Some of this data you'll have from the original email lists themselves (for instance, provides job title, industry, ZIP code, and company information), and some will come from the conversion forms, where you can ask for more information.

Building Specialized Lists

Now, you'll be looking at a wide set of data, but you may find some inconsistencies. (That's normal.) First, your target audience may be nothing like your actual audience. Second, you may have more than one specifically engaged and converting audience. For instance, let's say that you're in charge of a website that builds and sells a type of handy app or software. If you study the data you've gotten back, you may see that instead of one target group, you have two: trendy, adventurous small-business owners and seasoned executives.

Tailoring Content

These two groups (seasoned executives and small business owners) are looking at your apps for different reasons, and it would be foolish to focus on just one or the other. It would also be foolish to target them the same way in your content. You can use the data you've gathered (such as profession data or the size of their organization) to then tailor the content to fit two separate email campaigns:

  • For small-business owners: "Create an App for Your Small Business in Minutes"
  • For high-end, seasoned executives: "App-Creation Software and API Solutions for Corporations"

You can used these specialized email lists to create even more funnel-focused content. Really pull in customers not only with their knowledge of you but your knowledge of them.