Email Targeting and How It Works

Email Targeting and How It Works
12 July, 2022 • ... • 514 views
Eunice Laguesma
by Eunice Laguesma

Brands and businesses utilize email marketing to promote their businesses. However, there are still some that make the mistake of using generic, one-size-fits-all content for all their recipients. This can make your message lack impact and feel irrelevant. 

That being said, it is crucial that you know how to hit your audience’s interests and construct messages and campaigns that capture their attention to avoid your email from getting chucked in the trash bin. To achieve this, marketers utilize targeted emails.

What is a targeted email?

A targeted email is an email that is specially constructed to fit a certain demographic. In other words, it is an email that appears tailor-made for its recipient.These emails expose the aspects of your company or brand that will resonate most with your intended audience’s personalities and preferences.

To give you a better idea, look at the following comparison of a generic email versus a targeted email.

A generic email promotes all kinds of items without considering whether or not this will suit the recipient.


The example above is a typical generic promotional email that showcases several items without really taking any consideration towards the recipient’s gender, age, preferences, or characteristics in mind.

However, a targeted email takes the recipient’s age, gender, or other criteria and incorporates it into a customized email.


That being said, this type of emails require you to segment your subscribers and create content that will cater to the segment you place them in.

In the example above, you can find an email from Columbia. This email feels a little bit more targeted because it is marketing products based on an item that the recipient has taken a look at or shown interest in. 

It has also most likely taken the recipient’s gender in mind since all of the items it suggests are men’s wear.

Benefits of targeted email marketing

The whole goal of targeted email marketing is to make your promotional email feel as personal as possible thus creating maximum impact on your recipients.

Specifically, it can provide an impact on your business (especially if  you’re using email marketing for small business):


One of the greatest and arguably most important benefits of targeted email marketing is the establishment of relevancy.

People do not have time to open every email they get. But if you construct a personalized email based on their goals and interests, they will register it as important and will most likely open and interact with it.

Longer retention

Because subscribers receive emails with content that is relevant to their needs, chances are they will continue to stay loyal to your promotional campaigns and newsletters. Thus, targeted email marketing can also boost your customer retention.

You can also use this strategy to bring back inactive subscribers by presenting them with promo offers on pre-existing services they loved or new products based on their previous interactions.

More responses

The little personalized touches that come with targeted emails are also statistically proven to elicit more responses from recipients.

Emails that addressed the recipient by name were said to improve open rate and click-through rate by up to 35%. Meanwhile, campaigns that were based on previous purchases and activity on the website were said to generate repeat business.

Positive impact on the overall relationship

Targeted emails are made to seem personal and not like promotional content. As a result, audiences tend to see them in a more positive light because of the almost personal nature of these emails.

This type of emails make recipients feel like you value their loyalty and view them as more than just potential sources of profit. This allows you to establish a foundation of trust and form a relationship that benefits you both.

Increased ROI

Lastly, email campaigns sent to target audiences have been shown to effectively increase ROI. Targeting allows you to purposefully construct emails that will not only generate the most interaction but also great increases in revenue. 

A simple campaign with products that the recipient prefers based on previous purchases can significantly boost sales. One can even expect a boost of up to 760% in their ROI by just properly executing segmented, personalized emails. 

Try our ROI calculator to help you correctly estimate your future investment gains.

Different ways of email targeting 

The most crucial yet fun thing about email targeting is choosing the way you want to segment your email lists. You don’t have to stick to one system. You can mix and match the types of lists that you have depending on your email’s goals. 

But to give you an idea of where to start, check out some of the ways you can segment your list below.


Grouping your subscribers by gender is one of the most basic but effective methods of creating your target email lists. Interests and suitable products can vary so much depending on gender. 


Take clothing, for example. The email above is promoting Savage X Fenty bras and lingerie. 

If a male were to receive this email, it would probably garner little to no interest. However, sending the same campaign to females can generate interest, click-throughs, and great potential for sales. 

Geographical location

Brands with several branches, whether local or international, can also make use of location when categorizing their recipients.

A great example of these sorts of campaigns would be an event promotion.


The example above shows a promotional email that features Season Tickets for all home games played by the Golden State Warriors in San Francisco. 

Given the premise, this email will most likely gain the interest of those living in or near the area. However, those who are based in New York will probably ignore this as the services and content advertised is not applicable to their area. 


Various brands also take note of certain topics that their subscribers are interested in and send them carefully curated emails based on what they liked best.


The example above shows an email with a variety of articles and content based on subjects that the recipient spent time on when browsing their website. 

You can also collect information regarding features they might be interested in by having them answer surveys with questions pertaining to what information they prefer.


Each time a person interacts with your brand or website provides you with enough data to plan your next step or interaction with them through email marketing.


In this example, the user has canceled their Netflix subscription. As a result, this recipient was placed on a mailing list for former clients and was sent this invitation to return to Netflix along with promotional pictures of the hottest shows that this streaming service has to offer. 

Another example would be sending follow-up emails based on products purchased.


The example above is a follow-up based on a purchase of an Away suitcase that shows instructions on how to use and care for the item. 

Your recipient’s behavior on your website can open up lots of different avenues for targeted emails so make sure that you take note of their behavior and respond accordingly.


This “life cycle” per se refers to the various stages that consumers go through when they encounter your brand/company/event.

These emails usually refer to welcome emails for new subscribers, abandoned cart emails, and loyalty promotions that can help them keep in touch with your company.


In the example above, you can find a welcome email from the brand Alex Mill to a person who has just signed up on their website. It also comes with an added bonus of a welcome code for their first order on the website.


To help continue the relationship with the subscriber, this example shows Alex Mill sending an abandoned cart email featuring an item that the subscriber has not checked out with another bonus promo code as well as a couple more product suggestions.

The best part about email targeting is that you don’t have to stick to just one way. You can mix and match all these ways to best fit your brand and company’s needs.

For example: 

You own a shop that sells skincare items. You can mix age and behavior criteria to send product suggestions that fit their needs age-wise based on items that they previously liked on your website.

Or you are the owner of a website that promotes events and ticket sales. You can use the combination of a person’s geolocation and topics of interest to market events that they will most likely enjoy.

How to create a targeted email marketing campaign

Creating a targeted email marketing campaign can be quite overwhelming because of the many ways that you can go about it. 

But, regardless of how you want to do it, you need to go through the following steps:

Define the data you need

First things first, you need to define what kind of segments you intend to use for your campaign. 

You can start by forming foundational segments based on:

  • Name
  • Age
  • Race
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Interests (items, events, services, etc.)
  • Goals
  • Activities
  • etc.

and build your way up as you go. Or you can also form your own intricate set of segments right from the get-go. It’s completely up to you.

Defining the data that you need to achieve your goals will help you in strategizing methods on how you’re going to go about collecting it.

Collect the database

Now that you know what kind of information you need, you need to create a system that will allow you to collect the data for your segments. 

This can be done in a variety of ways depending on what you need.

You can have people answer a specific questionnaire and provide pertinent information such as their age, location, and email address when they sign up for your website or newsletter. 

You can also have them answer surveys or questionnaires regarding services or products that they previously availed. 


You can also check on their behavior on your website or previous responses (or lack thereof) to previous email campaigns if you already have them.

Segment your mailing list

The main goal of targeted emails is to ensure that each person receives an email that appears to personally cater to their needs and preferences. In an ideal world, this would mean individually constructing emails for each person. But this would be too time-consuming.

So, instead, one personalized email is sent to a group of people who share similar interests and characteristics — or a mailing segment. You can have many different segments. Just make sure that the people included in those lists fit the criteria set for the segment. 

Create customer personas based on those segments

This step is where you need to get really creative. To ensure that your content resonates best with your intended audience, you need to make sure that you develop a different persona that you feel each segment will relate to most.

Segments and their members dictate whether you can use emojis or slang appropriate to the age group that you are referring to. These personas can also use words of varying difficulty depending on their level of knowledge on a topic you’re tackling. 

Each persona you create will also help you design your email and construct your message so that it feels more personal.


Create the content

Finally, it’s time to create the actual email. With everything above in mind, you need to make sure that you construct emails that feature perfectly tailored content that fit each individual segment’s personality. 

Let’s say your end goal is to promote New York City restaurants to a Gen-Z audience.

First things first, you need to consider what design choices and aesthetics are appealing to that audience. You also need to make sure that your choice of words comes off as engaging and fun while maintaining an informative tone.


This email certainly hits the tone by utilizing the minimalistic design choices that are currently trendy with this generation. At the same time, it also utilizes the same slang, tone, and manner of speaking that Gen-Z has been known to use. 

Test, measure, analyze

Once you’re done, you just hit send and relax, right? Wrong. 

Prior to finally sending your email, several tests such as A/B testing and the like are done to ensure that the emails you put out are the best of the best. 

Even after you send your email, you still need to monitor and obtain feedback with regard to your email performance so that you know what approaches work best and which areas need improvement over the next campaigns.

This can easily be achieved through a good email service provider. Here at Selzy, we offer several ways to monitor your email’s performance as well as testing methods to ensure that everything from your subject line to your content is optimized.

Final thoughts

The use of targeted emails allows you to effectively promote your brand by sending a personalized email that makes subscribers feel valued. The use of segmented groups generates less effort but the same great results.

In order to fully accomplish the benefits that come with email targeting, make sure that you:

  • Define what criteria you want to segment your mailing list with and collect appropriate data.
  • Create an email that promotes the brand but is relevant to the segmented mailing group.
  • Select a trustworthy mailing service. 
  • Establish a good relationship with the audience by accepting feedback and continuously improving the way you deliver your emails to the audience.

To help lighten the load, we at Selzy offer various services from email construction to sending automation and progress monitoring to assist you in our email targeting to ensure that you get the best results. 


All email examples are credited to Really Good Emails.

12 July, 2022
Article by
Eunice Laguesma
I am a Medical Scientist, by day. But before all that, I fell in love with writing. Like many others reading our blogs, I also managed my own small but successful online businesses. So, I married my passion for the written word and my experience in building online businesses and partnered with Selzy to help small businesses build the most out of their marketing campaigns.
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