Targeting Email Newsletters

Email targetingThere are three main reasons to use a professional email marketing platform for sending email newsletters: measurability, personalization, and targeting. With good email marketing software you can target email newsletter recipients in three different ways. Each of these targeting options has its pros and cons.

Suppose that we want to send a travel newsletter and we need to target our email subscribers based on their favorite travel destinations. The newsletter signup form would offer a selection of destinations of which our subscribers choose one or more. How can we then make sure that subscribers only receive content that matches their destinations of interest?

1. Sending different newsletters to separate subscriber lists

This segmentation option is the most basic one. We could even implement it with an email program like Outlook. Each travel destination has its own newsletter and is sent to a specific list of email addresses. We’d have a France newsletter and send it to the France list, and the Italy newsletter goes to the Italy list.

Main advantage:

Each newsletter can have its custom name and design.

Main disadvantages:

A subscriber intersted in multiple destinations would have to receive multiple different newsletters. Furthermore, if one newsletter issue contains content that is of interest to multiple subscriber lists (e.g. Southern Europe), it needs to be separately sent to all the lists concerned.

Implementing separate email templates and lists usually is the preferred option if either the newsletters or the target audiences are very different. Using this model is therefore probably not the right way to target our travel newsletter.

2. Sending different newsletters to one segmented subscriber list

With this option the France and Italy newsletters are sent to one big traveller list. To implement the segmentation, areas of interest are stored in the recipient’s record as a profile field:

Traveller List

Record   Email                 First   Last   Interest           
1       Tom     Foo    France,Italy,Greece
2   Cliff   Bell   Spain,France,Germany
... etc ...

Main advantage:

If the email marketing program supports the selection of dynamic sub-lists that are based on the main list’s profile data, the same newsletter can be sent to multiple interest groups with just one mailing in a highly targeted fashion. Example: “Send Southern Europe News to the Travellers list if the recipient’s Interest field contains Spain or France or Greece”


For narrow targeting (Spain only, Italy only) separate emails need to be created, sent, and tracked.

3. Sending one segmented newsletter to one segmented subscriber list

This is the most advanced of option. It can only be implemented if the email marketing software/service supports inline segmentation. With inline segmentation, content blocks are defined as belonging to certain subscriber profiles. This is usually done by placing IF…ENDIF statements around content blocks:

Travel Newsletter, May 2008 Issue


General introduction text here…

[IF Interest contains Spain] Contant about Spain here… [ENDIF]

[IF Interest contains Italy] Contant about Italy here… [ENDIF]

[IF Interest contains Greece] Contant about Greece here… [ENDIF]

Kind regards,

Your Travel Team

This is the most flexible of all targeting solutions, but it requires careful testing of all targeting criteria against all dynamic content.

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