The Power of Precision in Lists

Something many people do wrong (I’m guilty too!) is to treat people as a large, general group.

People are not general, people are specific and unique.


Prefer to listen rather than read? Hit the play button below.


Before I talk about how to maximize the results from your mailing list, let me illustrate what I mean.

Let’s take a hobby that I know a lot about as an example. Photography.

People who take photographs are photographers, right? That’s a general group – photographers.

But there are sub-groups within that general group. Let me list just a few of them and you’ll start to see what I mean about sub-groups:

  • Amateurs
  • Professionals
  • Retired (My neighbor is a retired photographer)
  • Students
  • Agency/Newspaper
  • Tutors
  • Medical
  • Forensic

You get the idea. But let’s go further.

Let’s start getting some precision.

In each one of those newly expanded sub-groups, there are even more distinctions. Let’s list a few of the types of photograpy that people may specialize in:

  • Wedding
  • Senior
  • Prom
  • Portrait
  • Corporate
  • Fashion
  • Wildlife
  • Nature
  • Advertising

There are magazines and discussion groups in each of those sub-niches. That’s a sure sign that people likeĀ focused information.

Even within those groups there are more sub-groups. Details about a new camera might interest (might, not will) everyone in the main group “photographers”. But suppose you’re a professional medical photographer and a new hobbyist accessory is launched. It may not be of much interest to you, unless you’re also a hobbyist in your own time.

You could totally miss connecting with the medical photographer, if you email about consumer/hobbyist stuff, because not everyone who uses a skill at work does the same thing for leisure. I’m sure most accountants don’t sit playing with spreadsheets for fun at the weekend!

So what to do?

Segment your list so that each subscriber is part of a specific sub-list. Once you know what their interests are (more on how to do that later) you can look for information and products that are of interest to them.

That’s a powerful way to improve your results. If you’ve ever had a friend talk to you about something you’re not interested in, you might have had the polite smile on your face while squirming inside, waiting for them to finish. Do you really want your email subscribers to feel the same way about you?

In most of the big autoresponders you can create multiple lists and you can move people from one list to another with automation rules.

If you start out with no subscribers and build a list on a general topic that’s the kind of results you’ll get – general.

There is a way to start segmenting people from day one.

All you have to do is create very focused lists. Create a different optin form for each list.

On the pages of your site have a specific focus on a topic within a niche and embed the appropriate list optin form on that page.

People who optin after reading about “off camera wireless lighting patterns” have a very specific interest.

The fact they opted in on that page tells you what they’re interested in. You might as well take advantage of that extra information you now have about them.

Here’s the best news:

You can always email them the general topic email when you don’t have anything ultra specific for them! You get the best of both worlds.

To drill down even more, on the page with a tight focus your optin “bribe” should be something directly related to that specific focus topic.

In my example above it might be a short report reviewing the top 5 wireless flashguns, or it could be a short report detailing some lighting techniques with those flashguns.

The point, of course, is that anyone who’s keen to get that kind of information by opting in is interested in that kind of information. Obvious, right?

If it sounds like it could be a lot of work, it’s probably less work than it sounds. A different list and optin form for each sub-group and a different optin offer on each focused page does sound like a lot of work. In effect you are allowing your site visitors to self-select what they are interested in – that’s incredibly valuable information.

It means you can tailor what you do to each person more directly.

There’s nothing to stop you building each sub-list over time. Start with the general list then add a more focused list, optin and optin offer. Add it to the appropriate page on your site then…..rinse and repeat.

Even if you already have a list and have never segmented, you can start doing so right now. Create a new list with a new “bribe/offer”. Send your entire list to that offer and those who are interested will take advantage. There are automation rules in the top autoresponders that allow migration from one list to another, so you can have existing subscribers automatically add themselves to your new list and remove themselves from the more general list.

When people are seeking information online it’s usually about something relatively specific. It might be how to lose 10 pounds of fat, or how to remove acne. Think about your own hobby interests.

Are you into sports? Which ones?

There are sports that you couldn’t pay me to watch, but others that I would be interested in watching.

Most of you reading this are interested in online marketing, but some will have an interest in video, some in audio, some in reports and some in product creation.

Some of you will only be interested in affiliate marketing and have no desire to make your own products.

Some will be affiliates for Amazon, some for Clickbank and some for JVZoo or others.

If you’ve never touched Amazon and don’t want to you’d likely not be super interested in information about it.

At best email marketing can be a conversation with one person at a time. If we were talking in person I would match what I say to you based on what I know about you.

You already do the same in everyday life when you talk to “real” people.

Email marketing connects with everyday people so as much as possible we should treat them as the individuals they are.

It takes a little work, yes. It takes a little time, yes. But it’s worth the extra time and effort and it makes what you do more valuable to the people you connect with.

What could be better than helping to enhance someone else’s experience while you make a living?

Do you already segment your list? Let me know in the comments how it’s working out for you..


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