Nonprofit Email List Segmentation 101

Jennifer Gmerek
October 18, 2014

Discover these nonprofit email list segmentation best practices.

This blog is a part of our recent series on nonprofit training.

It can be a hard pill to swallow, but not everybody on your list wants to hear everything your organization has to say.

Sounds like you could use a little email list segmentation in your life. Segmenting your list is a best practice in email list management because it:

1. Recognizes that no two supporters are exactly alike: Some of your supporters are avid volunteers while others prefer to donate. Some enjoy reading your monthly newsletter while others would prefer to opt out altogether. No matter what message you’re delivering, you’ve got to remember that your audience’s interests trump your own. Personalization is key.

However, there are at least a million different ways to slice and dice your list, so take care not to over-segment your list. Start with a couple of distinct segments or groups – donors vs. non-donors; interest-specific categories; volunteer groups; etc. Once you begin to gather data about how these groups respond differently to different messages, you can refine your email segmentation strategy accordingly.  

2. Diminishes the likelihood of email fatigue: Every single email you send is an opportunity for a supporter to unsubscribe. Be certain that you’re only sending the most relevant messages to the folks on your list. If someone has already taken a specific action, DO NOT ask them to take it again without providing a very good explanation why.


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3. Allows your organization to create a more tailored and meaningful message: Once you begin to experiment with list segmentation, you’ll find that an entirely new world of content creation opens up to you. You may find that groups respond very differently to the call-to-actions, tone, writing style, and even the visual presentation of messages that you choose. Experiment strategically and learn from what your segments are telling you.

4. Strengthens relationships overall: Simply put - respect your supporter’s time and inboxes and they will, in turn, have more respect for your organization and the work that you do.

Ready to start segmenting your list like a pro? Our very own Online Training Specialist Rebecca Wyatt recently led a training about using queries in Salsa for improved list segmentation. Here are some of the things she covers:

-       Identifying effective goals for supporter list building and management

-       Identifying when to use queries instead of reports

-       Defining types of supporters

-       Building queries to identify supporters in each supporter type

-       Targeting email blasts to supporter groups

If you want to unlock more online marketing and supporter engagement, check out these additional resources:

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Topics: Nonprofit Marketing
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