Five Ways to Segment Your Audience (Because Yes, You Need To!)

Video Transcript:

Hi! Welcome to the latest episode of The High-Five Nonprofit Marketing Ideas. I’m Julia McDowell, Marketing Strategist for Five Ones. The High-Five is my video series of marketing strategies and tactics for nonprofits and associations, and today I’m talking about audiences. No, not studio audiences or a live audience, the audience your organization or association is speaking to with your marketing efforts.

If you notice low engagement or a dip in giving, it could be because you’re not speaking to the right audience in the right way. Sending the same email to everyone on your list isn’t strategic. Different people follow you for different reasons, are at different stages of life, and have different preferences for communication. The list goes on. And on. And on.

So, you need to segment your audience into various groups. That way, when you’re crafting communications you can write directly to that specific niche, not the wider group. There are a few different ways to segment but I’m sharing my top 5 (obviously).


Let’s get the most obvious out of the way first. Demographic segments are things like: Age, gender, and location. Basically, things that can be found on a driver’s license.

You might be thinking: OK, great but why do those things matter? While there’s no right answer, think about how you talk to your grandmother vs. your friends. It’s probably different, right? Right. So, you might want to hold off on the third emoji when writing an email to an older group, whereas a younger group may want to only communicate with them.

Location is an important factor for many things, but a big one is time zones. Say you want to send a thank-you email to donors the morning after an online giving event. Well, you want it to go out at the optimal time (data your email management system can provide) and not over a 12-hour range.


There are a variety of secondary factors to consider here: position or job type, department, specialty, career stage, and company size. But in general, consider where someone is in their career and what industry they’re in. Someone younger will have less decision-making power or less money to give (generally). Someone who is in a tangential industry to yours will have a basic knowledge or understanding of industry jargon compared to someone who does something completely different.


Another way to think about this is: Who would be your organization’s or association’s best friend, friend, acquaintance, or stranger? Then, segment your audience as such. You want to give more information to someone who is a stranger because they don’t know a lot about you. Whereas your best friend just needs to be kept updated on the latest happenings. By doing this, you’re not flooding a highly engaged person’s inbox with irrelevant or repeat information. That could turn them off quickly and you’d be searching for a new BFF.

Membership/donor type

Similar to engagement, splitting up donors and nondonors, or members and nonmembers, into different groups allows you to update them in different ways. If someone donates a lot, they are clearly invested in your organization. The same goes if someone is a member of your association. But, nondonors or nonmembers might need more information or more persuading to do what you’d like them to.

Acquisition type

Think about how someone was introduced to your organization or association. Was it through volunteering? A close friend or family member? Or did they start following or subscribing to your content because of a third party? All are great forms of acquisition, but someone will have a closer tie or more familiarity with you depending on how they found you.

The moral of the story here is: Split up your audience into the segments that make the most sense to you and your goals. Then, consider their background knowledge or familiarity with your organization and/or industry. By doing this, you can edit your copy to talk to them on a more personal level. People want to feel like they’re being spoken to personally, not that they’re part of some huge list. While it’s obviously impossible to reach out to people on an individual level, segmentation allows you to get much closer.

Thanks for joining me for today’s High-Five Nonprofit Marketing Ideas! Wondering what audience of mine you’re in? Have a question? Drop me a note at