I’m sure every single one of us has complained about too many emails in our inbox.

We agree to sign up for a list to get a discount, but have no need for additional purchases with that brand and do not continue to see value in being subscribed.

Maybe you tried to win a giveaway and one brand partnered with others to compile the prize package. Entering subscribes you to brands you never even knew existed. You weren’t paying attention. You just wanted the free stuff.

Even the brands we legitimately subscribed with can let us down after too many irrelevant emails.

There is one action that can overcome each of these instances, and it’s targeting.

That is why it’s so important to find your target audience.

What is a Target Audience?

A Target Audience is defined as the group of individuals, or for email marketing purposes the specific list or segment, at which a campaign is aimed.

It’s the target demographic for each marketing effort.

It’s also who would be most likely to convert, based on each targeted email campaign you send.

For example, if you owned a plumbing company, your target audience would be homeowners or landlords.

It’s important to remember that the target audience is who is most likely to purchase your goods or services and not necessarily for whom the goods and services are intended.

Take, for example, a toy store. Yes, kids (of all ages) will play with the toys. However, more often than not it’s parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles who are most likely to be buying the toys.

Why is it important to find a Target Audience for each email you send?

In our guide, What Makes a Great Email, we discussed that content makes an email great.

However, subject line, email copy and a Call To Action are only half of what we said makes for great emails.

Your target audience is the other part of what will make your emails great.

To paraphrase an old saying, greatness is in the eye of the beholder.

In the above examples of inbox overload, all could have been avoided had the subscribers been able to relate to the tone and content of the emails. That would have made those emails great to those users.

This is why it’s imperative to make sure each campaign you send is directed towards the correct target audience.

After all, we’ve all surely heard the famous John Lydgate quote, that was also famously shared by Abraham Lincoln.

…you can’t please all of the people all of the time.

A lot of the time, your whole contact list will not be interested in all of the emails you want to send. However, a targeted email to the right audience is far more likely to find a happy audience.

Are your emails being sent to the appropriate audience?

It’s important to serve the needs and interests of each subscriber. A targeted audience means a segment of your list(s) filled with individuals who are pleased with the emails they’re receiving.

In 2015, nearly 80% of all email marketing ROI was a result of being sent to the correct target audience!

There Are No Targeted Audiences Without Proper Segmentation

Knowing who to target with your email marketing campaigns begins with an understanding of the list segments you should be creating.

List segmentation does not have to be difficult.

It can begin with your signup form. Based on the data fields on your signup form, you can sort new subscribers from the beginning.

One way you can segment your list is by demographic. This includes gender, age and location. It is possible to gather this data at signup, but be mindful that you’re not turning off potential email subscribers from completing your form.

You can also build a segmented target audience around the type of industry a subscriber is in, the size of their company or any wide range of data that you can ask for on your signup form.

Engagement is another opportunity for segmenting your sending email list. Find the subscribers who interact (open rates) most often with your effective emails. That could mean who is opening them a lot or even those who tend to click on links. This group comes in handy if you want to get customer feedback with a poll or survey or if you want to create a loyalty program.

While your most active subscribers make a great segment, the opposite is also true. Inactive subscribers are another segment you can create and target. You can target that audience with a re-engagement campaign to bring them back into the fold. Clean your list of the ones to remain inactive.

Your customer’s purchase history is another segment you can create. When you know what goods or services they have previously purchased, you can target that audience with a automated email campaign director towards their interests.

Finding Your Target Audience

Finding Your Target Audience

Target Audience Examples

It’s one thing to see how you could segment and target your audiences. Seeing examples makes more relatable:

  • Perhaps you’re a microbrewery. You can segment your list into people who like IPAs or wheat beers based on on the items they’re clicking on in your emails.If you’re a car dealership, you can send targeted campaigns based on the types of cars your subscribers are clicking on in your email promotions.Or maybe you’re in charge of the email marketing for your local Park District. You can segment and create targeted emails for children’s camps, teen activities and adult programs based on the step by step email content in which your subscribers have shown interest.

You can also create targeted audiences for the subscribers who most often engage with your emails.

This is the audience who is most likely to open your real time emails. They might even be excited when they receive an email from you! It’s a good idea to reward that level of engagement.

You can offer your engaged subscribers a sneak peek at new product launches. Give them early access to these products as a reward for their loyalty.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, you can create a targeted audience of your inactive subscribers. The easiest and most common way to target this audience is by telling them you’re going to remove them from your list unless they’d like to opt back in. People want what they can’t have, and they’ll probably start paying closer attention to your emails.

Purchase history also gives you the information you need to create specific target audiences. Think about any time you’ve purchased something on Amazon. You’ve certainly received an email after the fact that said something like this:

“Because you purchased Cards Against Humanity, you may also be interested in What Do You Meme? Adult Party Game.”

If your business requires recurring payments, you can also create a target audience of canceled or expired accounts. Show them how to update their credit card information with a quick video. You will likely win back lost accounts and money!

Tips for Understanding Your Target Audience

It is incredibly important to understand who the individuals are in each target audience.

One simple way to do this is by creating customer personas.

You can even go so far as to search Google Images and choose a photo for each target audience and the individual that will represent each persona. Consider the car they drive, places they shop and even what magazines or blogs they enjoy reading.

You should also turn to your reports to gain a better understanding of each target audience.

Your reports are another opportunity to understand your target audience with expected return on investment.

There, you can see the device they’re opening your emails on, what time they’re opening those emails and the goods or services of interest based on clicks.

You can learn if your target audience is on-the-go opening emails on smartphones or if they open on a computer. This will help you know your sales process should be. If it’s hard for them to convert from a phone, create a process that will work on the phone and allow you to follow-up in a way that will let them actually convert later.

Same goes for the time your emails are being opened. Learn when your emails are being opened by your segments, and you’ll know when to time your offerings. Early morning emails may get those that are opening their emails in bed (or the bathroom) every morning. If you’re in a business where your sales team talks to leads on the phone, you may want to send a targeted email campaign to those early morning openers that allows them to schedule a call or a demo later in the day when they’ll be more prepared to handle it.

Each will give you an additional peek into the lives of your subscribers and help you know who they are as people. After all, remembering that there are people behind the email addresses you’re sending to is perhaps the most important part of understanding a target audience.


First, you have to understand what a target audience is and why they’re important and how you’re going to target them by step by step email marketing guide.

Armed with that knowledge, you can start creating your target audiences. That begins with the signup form and continues throughout your relationship with your subscribers.

Once you have segmented your list(s) into various target audiences, you can create campaigns tailored specifically to those groups of people.

That is what it means to send great emails.

Share Your Ideas

What do you do to create segments and create target audiences?

We want to hear from you. Tell us in the comments your favorite tips for making great targeted emails.

Want to Learn More?

This post is only one part of what goes into finding your target audience, an integral part of what makes an email great.

That’s why we wrote a new guide called What Makes a Great Email.

There you can gain a better understanding for segmenting target audiences, and you’ll learn practical strategies to create them.

Click here to download What Makes a Great Email.

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