Tags and Segments in Email Marketing – a no-nonsense guide for small businesses.

Tags and Segments in Email Marketing – a no-nonsense guide for small businesses.

In the big wide world of Email Marketing you’ll often hear people talk about tagging and segmenting their audience. Confused? You’re not alone, it’s one of the most common questions I get asked, so here’s my no-nonsense guide to segments & tags…

Let’s rewind here, essentially Segments and tags are terms used when you are trying to organise your audience in a certain way. Quite often when people are using email marketing they are sending very generic messages to their audience e.g. 1 newsletter, and while this type of email marketing does have it’s merits, ultimately speaking to your customers like individuals is a much better strategy. 

So do I need to email everyone on a 1:1 basis? 

Absolutely not. By using segments, tags & groups you can organise your audience so you can speak to them about what matters. Of course, firstly you need to understand your audience and get to know them, but once you’ve done that you can organise them so you can send your latest ‘tax update for limited companies’ to only the limited companies on your list, not the sole traders. Or you might want to send a special offer to your most loyal customers at Christmas. These are just a few examples of what you can achieve once your audience is organised. By organising your audience you’ll be able to provide FAR more value than just sending generic messages to all. 

The Low Down on Tags


Tags are labels that you can create for your contacts, that are based on the things you know about them i.e have data on them. It’s best practice to have 1 master audience and then tag & segment people within that audience, like sub-categories (unless you have a wildly different audience you need to speak to e.g. B2B & B2C). This is the reason why lots of Email Marketing platforms only offer you one audience in a Free package, because really you don’t need more than one.

Tags are a really flexible way to organise your audience, not only are they great way of organising your audience internally, but also act as a filter in your segments (more on segments shortly). Just keep in the back of your mind that tags will help you create custom offers and messages so it’s super important to make sure it’s aligned to your business goals. 

How to use tags;

Tags are super customisable, so you can use them however you like. You can also use them to identify the source, event or promotion relating to a landing page. E.g. If I’m running my Christmas Mailchimp Workshops, I can tag my signups with ‘Christmas’ (so I know when to contact them or re-engage) and ‘MailChimp’ (in case I need to send them relevant info relating to that platform).

I’d suggest starting off with a few tags that really help you organise your audience, and as you become more comfortable with tags you can add in more. 

So how is segmenting different to tags?


A segment is part of your audience that includes contacts with common field information e.g. first name or location. E.g. You could have a segment based on a location like ‘Devon’, or a segment based on people who’ve clicked on certain links. Lots of Email Marketing Platforms have pre-built segments to help you. 

Why do I need to segment? 

By organising your contacts into specific categories, you can give people more of what they want and less of what they don’t.  Segmenting your audience is a much better way to reach your contacts in a personalised way than a 1-size-fits-all approach. If you think about the messages that you receive that really catch you eye, they’ll likely be relevant to you, resonate with your values, offer something you’re interested in and inspire you to take action. 

Segmenting can be split down into two different types, behaviour & traits. 

Behaviour- How your audience is interacting with your marketing can tell you thinks about them. For example; Customer Journey or Levels of engagement.

Traits- The Characteristics of your audience, such as age, location, relationship status and device usage. 

Be careful though, sometimes you can segment way too much! So really think about what is going to offer your audience value and be an attribute to your marketing. 

Ultimately, it’s really important to utilise tags and segments as part of your Email Marketing to ensure you can deliver value and personalisation to you audience. I’d always suggest starting off with a couple of tags/segments and using them and then take a look at your numbers to suss out what’s working. When you become more confident you can take your organisation further.

Find out how we can support you with your Email Marketing here. Or if you’re an Email Marketing Newbie download my FREE starter kit!