**Today’s blog is a guest post from our friends over at Hive.co, enjoy their tips and strategies on segmenting your subscriber data!

The most powerful data you have on your email list is subscriber engagement data – and every email marketer should leverage this data for healthy deliverability. Why? Email engagement and deliverability go hand in hand. Internet service providers (ISPs) like Gmail, Outlook, and Yahoo are looking to see if subscribers actively engage with your emails to determine whether to serve your emails to inboxes (in other words, whether you have a strong sender reputation). That’s why it’s best practice to segment your list by subscriber engagement level and use this as the basis of your email sending strategy.

Segmenting on engagement level will help you send targeted emails with a higher chance of getting opens and clicks. Think about it this way – your list is made up of subscribers in various stages of the customer journey. You’ll have some subscribers with no engagement history who have just signed up to your list, and others who’ve established a long history of engaging with your past emails. You’ll want to be sending your core blasts to subscribers who you know are likely to engage, because their engagement will signal to ISPs that you’re a strong sender. It’s riskier to send emails to subscribers you can’t positively say will engage, which makes it extremely important to send strategic emails to engage these segments. Here’s how:

Engagement Levels You Should Segment On and What to Email Them


Your most active subscribers are those who continuously engage with your emails. This is your bread and butter – these subscribers have engaged with your recent emails and chances are, they’ll likely open and click the next email you send them. You should be sending your core marketing blasts to this segment.

New Subscribers

These subscribers have just joined your list, whether through a signup form, in-store point of sale (POS), or contest. You want to treat new subscribers differently – you have one chance to educate them about your brand and you should use it to engage and convert. It’s best practice to send a welcome email right upon signup. You can automate this by setting up a welcome email series, which we’ll dive into in the section below.

At-Risk Subscribers

It’s natural for subscribers to start losing interest in your brand. When subscribers haven’t opened an email recently (e.g. your last 5 emails), chances are they’ll need a reason to re-engage with your brand. Your typical marketing blasts are less likely to be opened – you should send a winback email that includes an incentive to get these at-risk subscribers to re-engage.


Subscribers who haven’t engaged in a while (i.e. your last 10 emails) are likely to never engage again. You’ll want to set an intentional strategy to win back contacts in this segment because they’ll fully lose interest if you send them an irrelevant email. It’s important to spend time designing a winback email for this segment that you actually believe in.

Invalid Subscribers

These are contacts who have unsubscribed from your email list or have been marked as invalid (bounced, undeliverable). You never want to email this segment.

Email Automations to Optimize for Segment Engagement

Timing is everything, especially when it comes to email. You can leverage email automation (triggered campaigns) to engage these segments at exactly the right time with exactly the right content, further improving the chances they’ll engage:

Set Up a Welcome Email Series to Engage New Subscribers

New subscribers have just signed up to your brand, and have signaled that they want to receive email from you. Now’s the best time to send a highly relevant welcome email. With the highest open rate and a CTR 4x higher than any other type of email, it’s a smart move to automate welcome emails in your email strategy so you don’t miss out on engaging any of your new subscribers.

Automate an ‘Update Your Preferences’ Email to Engage At-Risk Subscribers

At-risk subscribers are starting to lose interest in your emails, and it may likely be because of the content you’ve been sending them. You should automate an email campaign with a link to your preferences center, and ask this segment to update their preferences so you can send them only the emails they want to receive. This is also a good time to ask for their birthday, gender, and any personal preferences so you can send more personalized emails.

Set Up a Winback Email Series to Re-Engage Inactive Subscribers

Inactive subscribers haven’t engaged with your emails for a while, and chances are they won’t engage with any basic emails you send. You should set up a winback email series with several emails including incentives that increase in value (e.g. each email includes a higher discount code). If a subscriber enters and goes through the entire winback email series without engaging, you should treat them as invalid since the chances they’ll ever engage again are close to null.

Wrap Up

Every email marketer has access to subscriber engagement data, and this data is a powerful tool you can use to improve your email deliverability. Basing your email sending strategy on engagement level segments will not only boost your email performance, but it’ll also help you send emails your subscribers actually want to receive. Plus, you can leverage email automation to trigger based on unique subscriber actions, so you send email exactly when subscribers are most likely to engage. It’s a win-win for your email strategy and your deliverability.

Cynthia Dam
Brand Designer @ Hive.co

Cynthia is the Brand Designer at Hive.co and creates content fuelling the company’s customer experiences across all marketing channels. Read more of her email deliverability articles on the Hive.co blog.