Recently, I had the opportunity to work on a custom market research project that reinforced just how important database segmentation is to every form of communication you initiate with your customers. This particular project utilized focus groups comprised of the client’s current constituents and partners.

As part of each discussion, respondents were asked about their communication preferences. To no one’s surprise, email was a preferred method. For that reason, our moderator drilled into email subject lines, and content that catches and keeps the readers’ attention.

When a subject line is tailored to the interests of the constituent, patron, partner or customer, that individual is much more likely to open up the email. This likely doesn’t come as any surprise. However, when people sign up to receive your monthly e-newsletter, do they have the same expectations? Is your content organized in the same way for everyone who receives the newsletter? In this client’s case, the respondents expected tailored messaging for each and every point of communication.

For organizations that serve a diverse client base or provide a broad portfolio of services, segmentation is incredibly crucial, even for newsletters. In this age of overflowing email inboxes, organizations must acknowledge that the content and messaging that appeals to customers who enjoy attending, say, family-friendly programming or events will likely not grab the attention of the portion of an audience that comes to evening and after-hours events.

Marketers know that they need to put the right offer (or invitation) in front of the right people at the right time. In order to do so effectively, databases must be segmented. This enables efficiencies, such as sending a “SantaLand Diaries” single ticket post card or email to the people who attended a David Sedaris reading last season.

It doesn’t take long for a company to solidify its reputation as an information-overload email blaster. If your organization’s newsletter or monthly e-blast attempts to address the interests of all of your customers at once, consider asking people what they actually care about so you don’t lose their attention once and for all. Take a quick survey of your email list or ask people to opt-in for specific content. Depending on your CRM database, you may be able to easily segment your newsletter recipients based on their previous purchase/attendance history.

Customizing the newsletter to the audience doesn’t have to mean that each segment receives radically different content. Reorganizing the content, though, to highlight events or programming of interest for each segment first will help you stay relevant without asking someone to read — or more realistically, skim – through your entire newsletter to get to the information they care about.