It’s common knowledge that segmenting your email-marketing lists helps you get better open and click rates. By narrowing your focus and sending messages to targeted groups within your lists, your recipients will find your campaigns more relevant—and relevant campaigns get better results.

We scanned our system for MailChimp users who use our list segmentation tools and sampled about 2,000 MailChimp users who sent about 11,000 segmented campaigns to almost 9 million recipients. We compared the results of those segmented campaigns to the results of the same customers’ non-segmented campaigns.

Updated: March 2, 2015

Global Results

When we measured stats “across all segmented campaigns,” segmented campaigns performed markedly better than their non-segmented counterparts.

Opens: 14.05% higher than non-segmented campaigns
Unique Opens: 10.68% higher than non-segmented campaigns
Clicks: 61.90% higher than non-segmented campaigns
Bounces: 0.38% lower than non-segmented campaigns
Abuse Reports: 7.25% lower than non-segmented campaigns
Unsubs: 6.93% lower than non-segmented campaigns

Segment by Merge Field

When MailChimp users segmented their lists based on a merge field in their recipient database (this might include "customer_type," "ZIP code," or "job_title," for example), the results—especially the click rates—were quite favorable. This turned out to be the most popular way to segment lists.

Opens: 15.58% higher than non-segmented campaigns
Unique Opens: 11.47% higher than non-segmented campaigns
Clicks: 50.56% higher than non-segmented campaigns
Bounces: 1.09% higher than non-segmented campaigns
Abuse Reports: 2.26% lower than non-segmented campaigns
Unsubs: 0.45% lower than non-segmented campaigns

Segment by Date Added/Signup Date

MailChimp also allows you to create segments based on the date that subscribers join your list. This segment can be utilized in a number of different ways, but is commonly used to target a list's most recent or oldest signups.

Opens: 20.09% higher than non-segmented campaigns
Unique Opens: 17.78% higher than non-segmented campaigns
Clicks: 44.64% higher than non-segmented campaigns
Bounces: 56.35% higher than non-segmented campaigns
Abuse Reports: 21.18% higher than non-segmented campaigns
Unsubs: 25.19% higher than non-segmented campaigns

Segment by Interest Groups

Email marketers can create signup forms with checkboxes, radio buttons, or drop down menus so subscribers can indicate their interests. For example, a music website might have an email signup form with options for favorite genre or preferred method of discovering new bands.

Opens: 12.46% higher than non-segmented campaigns
Unique Opens: 8.40% higher than non-segmented campaigns
Clicks: 90.79% higher than non-segmented campaigns
Bounces: 9.10% lower than non-segmented campaigns
Abuse Reports: 20.00% lower than non-segmented campaigns
Unsubs: 21.65% lower than non-segmented campaigns

Segment by Subscriber Activity

MailChimp's reporting features can help you analyze the performance of your campaigns, and provide valuable insights into the behavior of your subscribers. In the Activity menu of your campaign reports, you'll find data that allows you to dig deeper into your results to see how each of your subscribers interacted with your campaign. This allows for some extremely focused subscriber activity-based segmentation.

Opens: 8.23% higher than unsegmented campaigns
Unique Opens: 9.96% higher than unsegmented campaigns
Clicks: 7.16% higher than unsegmented campaigns
Bounces: 12.26% lower than unsegmented campaigns
Abuse Reports: 1.90% higher than unsegmented campaigns
Unsubs: 5.83% higher than unsegmented campaigns

Observations and Follow-up

The information above can, admittedly, be a little tough to interpret. While this data reflects the overall "segmented campaign" vs. "non-segmented campaign" results for one particular cross-section of our userbase, the hows and whys of each user's implementation of the various segments has a tendency to muddy the waters. Each segmentation scenario could, potentially, yield very different results.

For example, while segmenting by subscriber activity can help you identify and send to some of your most loyal subscribers, it could also allow you to send follow-up campaigns to your most unengaged subscribers—the folks who haven't opened any number of your previously sent emails. Similarly, if you planned to target older signups with a "date added" segment, you might encounter higher bounce rates (due to inactive email addresses) than you would if recent signups were targeted.

One thing we can say with complete confidence, however, is that segmenting your email marketing lists has an overwhelmingly positive impact on the engagement of your subscribers. Open and clicks rates were up across the board in all segmentation scenarios that we've investigated. Similarly, targeting subscribers via some type of identifying merge value—like interest, job title, location, etc.—helped keep abuse and unsubscribe rates down.