How To: Segmentation Without Guesswork

August 3, 2022

If the right tool doesn’t exist, invent it.

So there we were.
Like you, probably.
Sitting, wondering.

We’ve got all these people on this big email list, all segmented into their own groups, and that should be great. But how do I choose who gets content? And how do I decide what that content is!?

And then we found and appropriated Punnett Squares - a tool for predicting genetic traits in organisms.

Two Truths & A Lie

Let’s play everybody’s favorite corporate ice breaker. Two Truths & A Lie: Punnett Square Edition. See if you can figure out which one’s the lie.

Punnett Squares are boring.
Punnett Squares are boring.
Punnett Squares are not boring.

Did you get it?

It’s the third one.

One Big Truth

Yep. Punnett Squares are dry and gene expression prediction has zip to do with email strategy.

Sort of.

It does have a role in email strategy and, while yes, it's boring, do you know what else is boring? Looking both ways before you cross the street, wearing a seatbelt, and all manner of birth control.

So, honestly, just learn it, and then do it. It works, it's important, and like its boring friends, it protects you. Not from accidents (vehicular and sexual, both), but from making a fool of yourself by sending the wrong email to the wrong segment at the wrong time.

That’s the big truth.

How It Works

Forgive me for repeating myself (I’m actually a parrot, which makes all this writing much more impressive) but a Punnett Square is a tool geneticists use to determine how likely you are to see particular genetic traits based on the parents’ genes.

The example above shows the way two genes from each parent can mix, and what color the flower will be depending on the genes. 

Without diving into what the codes mean, you can see that each is a combination of the vertical and horizontal row it’s in. BB, Bb, Bb, bb. 

A Punnett Square is an example of something called matrix logic. Other examples include multiplication tables, map coordinates, and our fancy-pants C4 Chart.

The Inputs

When you’re working with matrix logic, you have two input variables that lead you to a logical prediction determined by those variables.

In the case of a Punnett Square it’s the parents’ genes. In a multiplication table it’s the two numbers being multiplied. Maps are more spatial, so they’ll use the vertical and horizontal coordinates.  

In all cases, one variable belongs on the vertical axis, and the other belongs on the horizontal axis.

Our inputs describe a customer’s purchase history and their level of engagement.

The Outputs

With matrix logic, the output is determined directly by the inputs you use, and it’s as simple as using your pointer fingers to find the right square.

If you’re looking at a multiplication table, you point to the 3 on top, the 4 on the left side, and follow them both until they intersect. It’ll say 12, if you did it right.

On a map it leads you to the correct area to be looking at. You could use primary colors to show what color they make when you mix them. And a Punnett Square will show you what kind of freak baby you’re hypothetically making.

Our outputs are segmented customer groups, AKA clear targets.

Blah Blah Blah How Do I Capitalize From This?

Your customers are on a journey. Every last one of them. And what they want and need from you depends entirely on where in the customer journey they are today, and where you want them to go. 

So, what are the characteristics of your customers? And what will engage and convert them?

Though you can segment your customers to whatever degree you like (more is sort of better), here’s the basic Customer Connection Chart:

Along the top of our C4 Chart, you’ll find customers are segmented based on their purchase history: Pre-Customer or 1x Customer or Repeat Customer. That’s useful information, but it’s not enough. You’ll find they’re also segmented along the left side based on their engagement level: Low Engagement or Engaged or Ultra Engaged.

Once you’ve considered the inputs and the appropriate outputs, the hard part is done. As long as you know who you’re talking to - and you should always know who you’re talking to - the Customer Connection Chart means you never have to dwell on what to say or when to say it.  You can always predict exactly what they need to hear next. 

Samples & Examples

For all its value and beauty, the C4 Chart is a jumping off point to guide your outreach decisions. There are many things that you could share with a Buy-Curious Biff to convert them into a new customer, and you’ll certainly build out content options all by yourself over time.

Until then, here are examples for each square in the C4 Chart to get your brain juices flowing.

PC:LE - Disinterested Darlene

The first buy is the hardest to achieve with any new customer. Additionally, Darlene isn’t particularly engaged with your brand or its products right now. So, deeply discounted SKUs are the kind of thing that might lead to a first-time buy because it’s a low-risk investment from that customer category.

NC:LE - Try-It-Out Tanya

Once you’ve turned a lead into a customer, your foot is in the door. In the case of Tanya, who is still not engaging actively with your brand, a purchase is no longer the goal. She’s got your product and will form an opinion about it. The goal is to get her engaged and keep her engaged so you stay top-of-mind. In this case, a survey is a low-energy engagement opportunity that benefits you both.

RC:LE - Silent Sally

Repeat customers with low engagement are an interesting lot. They obviously like your product or service enough to come back for more, but by this time you’d expect them to be engaged also. So, like with Tanya, your goal is to get them engaged (which may be unlikely at this point) and to stay top-of-mind. Something more passive may be your key to success in this instance. We recommend a weekly newsletter (or other such content) to stay on their radar without being needy.

PC:E - Buy-Curious Biff

When you’ve got a Biff on your hands, you’re looking at someone who’s interested in what you’re doing but hasn’t chosen to invest. Biff is somewhat opposite to Tanya, in that the first sale is the big goal and engagement is less of a concern. In fact, engagement is an opportunity. You can leverage Biff’s tendency to engage to facilitate that first sale. Something like a quiz will keep your products on the screen and you can use that to remind Biff of the features and benefits to really drive that sale.

NC:E - Into-It Isabel

A new customer with a penchant for engagement is similar to your repeat customer with low engagement. You’ve got their attention, and that’s a huge, huge step. They have your product, and now your product needs to do its job. If your product is good, they’re likely to come back. If it’s not, they won’t. So, in this case, your goal should be to stay top-of-mind so they think of you when they’re ready to re-up in your category. This is another place that a weekly newsletter (or other such content) is the perfect strategy.

RC:E - Active Andy

Active Andy is what you should hope the majority of your customer base will be. If all your customers stay engaged and keep on buying, you’re living the dream. But, there’s still an opportunity. We love converting people who support the brand into people who champion the brand, and you can do that by rewarding them and making them feel involved. Consider sending a VIP offer or special insider-updates to this category.

PC:UE - Fascinated Fred

An ultra engaged audience that has yet to part with its money is an interesting phenomenon. If they love you so much, why haven’t they tried your product? Maybe you haven’t made the right offer. The hurdle here, again, isn’t their level of engagement, but rather getting them to invest for the first time. Try a secret first-purchase offer to reward their engagement and push them over the threshold.

NC:UE - Finally Finlay

If you have customers who love your brand but have only made a single purchase, it’s unlikely that their engagement is driven solely by the sku(s) in their first purchase. They’ve shown a willingness to spend their money on your brand, and you seem to be top of mind, so this is a chance to drive another sale. Have faith that their first purchase will re-sell itself, considering their engagement level, and use this to add skus to their cart the next time around. We suggest taking this opportunity to cross-sell your other products and increase their CLV forever.

RC:UE - Champion Charlie

Start by patting yourself on the back for having this customer category in the first place. It’s an accomplishment. These are the customers that we fantasize about. They love your brand and they put their money where their mouth is. They are your grassroots spokespeople and champions of your products. This category is mostly about maintenance, and like Active Andy, you need to reward them, involve them, and make them feel appreciated. We like to send Champion Charlie limited edition sku access, special sales, and cute behind-the-scenes stuff to maintain this beautiful, special relationship.



When you consider the ongoing battle for your customers’ attention, you cannot - you must not - be lazy. If you rest on your laurels, you’ll lose ‘em. 

So, stay creative. Start by remembering who you’re talking to and what you know about them, and then give them what they want or need in that moment.

Ready to