Audience Management Versus Traditional Segmentation

Last updated: 
March 8, 2023

Which One Is Right for You?

Audience Management and traditional email segmentation are techniques used in email marketing campaigns to improve the relevance and effectiveness of email messages. However, both techniques take different approaches in terms of scope, process, timing, and overall goals. Understanding these differences can help determine which approach is right for you.

Traditional email segmentation divides an email list into smaller segments based on specific criteria such as demographics, geographic location, interests, or behavior. It is used primarily to target current actives (Open 30 Days) and most recent buyers with a view to keeping them engaged and driving conversions. However, it tends to minimize the attention paid to inactive subscribers that comprise 60-70% of the typical email list.

Audience Management takes a broader approach. It targets currently active and recent buyers but also looks deeper into the data that defines the entire list. Audience Management goes beyond demographics, location, and basic behavior to consider the full range of engagement activity and purchasing history of actives and inactives alike. It uses this data to create segments based on engagement levels and buyer values that make it possible to identify and target inactive subscribers most likely to re-engage and purchase with the right message at the right time.

Key Differences Between Audience Management and Traditional Segmentation

Here are some key differences between audience management and traditional email segmentation:

Scope: Audience management takes a comprehensive approach to managing email subscribers that goes beyond traditional segmentation. It monitors a full range of subscriber data to create fluid segments based on engagement level and buyer value, while traditional segmentation focuses on dividing email lists into more static segments based mainly on basic demographic, location, and behavior criteria.

Dynamic Nature: Audience management is a dynamic process that involves ongoing monitoring and adjustments based on current and historical behavior and engagement. Traditional segmentation, on the other hand, is a more static process that is based on fixed criteria.

Timing: Audience Management involves monitoring the engagement levels and purchasing activity of the entire audience over time, a process that requires a longer-term view but delivers significant value over and above that of current actives from existing, but previously ignored subscribers. Traditional segmentation is focused mainly on the near-term engagement of current actives and most recent buyers.

Goals: The goal of traditional email segmentation is to deliver relevant and personalized content to the most active or recent buyers at a specific time in order to keep them engaged and drive conversions. It tends to minimize the importance of inactives that comprise the majority of the list. The goal of Audience Management is to target those same active and recent buyers in the near-term, while also identifying inactive subscribers most likely to re-engage and moving them into more highly engaged and greater buyer value segments to unlock revenue from previously overlooked subscribers.

Audience Management Segment Strategy

Discover How Audience Management Can Unlock the Hidden Value of Your Entire List

If you've been using traditional segmentation to focus on your most active customers, you could be missing the hidden value of the 60-70% of your customers who are inactive. Learn how Audience Management can help you focus on your entire list and reactivate customers to deliver as much as 7X more value than inactives.

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Which Approach Is Right for You?

When considering a switch from traditional segmentation to Audience Management, it is not uncommon for marketers to question one of the approach’s key tenets: shifting the focus from just the most engaged segments to the entire audience including unengaged segments. To answer this question, Alchemy Worx has conducted numerous tests that demonstrate the efficiency and value of Audience Management.

For example, in one case the Audience Management Test group delivered a 10% increase in the size of the Engaged (Open 30 Days) segment, 13% among Buyers, and 9% among Non-Buyers. That’s a significant increase in high-value targets derived from existing subscribers without the costs associated with new acquisitions.

When compared with the Control group, Unengaged Buyers in the Test group were 38% more likely to re-engage while Engaged Buyers were 12% more likely to remain engaged. Unengaged Non-Buyers were 30% more likely to re-engage and 55% more likely to make a purchase.

Overall, the Test group realized a 9% lift in Clicks, 7% lift in Opens, and a 4% decrease in unsubscribe rate.

See the Case Study.

In another case where a client’s list was divided into equal Test and Control groups, using Audience Management to focus on the entire Test audience and deliver each subscriber the right message at the right time re-engaged 25K customers over the course of the 3-month test while generating an additional $240K in email-attributed revenue. When rolled out across the entire list, the benefits of Audience Management could be expected to double.

See the Case Study.


While traditional email segmentation is a useful technique for improving email relevancy and personalization, Audience Management takes a broader, more comprehensive approach to managing email subscribers. Audience Management involves not only segmenting your email list but also managing your all of your subscribers' engagement levels, preferences, and behaviors over time to increase the percentage of engaged, high value buyers in your audience and generate more revenue without the effort and expense associated with generating new acquisitions.

Schedule a call with us to discuss your program and learn whether Audience Management is right for you.

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