How to collect data for segmentation

Now, let’s get into the third category of data, the one you need to collect.

This is information you don’t have, and I hope you did your homework and have already figured out one or two pieces of data that will help you be more relevant, get your campaigns opened and clicked, and convert more sales.

In the cupcake example, we established that knowing if customers were ordering for the office or for home was key, because the marketing approach could be completely different in a B2B environment.

Another example of this type of data could be the position of a person in an organization, you might want to know if this individual is a decision maker or not.

How to get this data from your subscribers

There are 2 ways of collecting this kind of information:

  • When they sign up for the first time
  • Post signup (they’re already subscribers)

The difference here will be that, if this data is included in the signup process as a “required field,” you’ll have this information for all your subscribers, while if you need to collect it post-signup, only a fraction of your list will provide it.

Let’s look at the two scenarios and a few ways to make the best of them:

Collect data at the signup

Collecting data at the signup is as simple as adding the fields on the form. Most ESPs will give you 2 options to add extra fields to your form:

  • Predetermined fields like name, last name, address, website, birthday, etc.
  • Custom fields: You can create your own with the data you need

When you add fields to a form, you should add tags to them so that you can use them later for segmentation and personalization. Once you have this in place, it will be really easy to create a segment based on this data or even use it to personalize campaigns.

Here is how to add fields to a form:

Here are a couple of examples of collecting additional data at the signup:

This is from Hubspot (you’ve probably seen this):

Hubspot form

And this is from Circuit of the Americas:

Circuit of the Americas

Collect data after the signup

As I said before, collecting data after the signup form is a little harder, because even if you get a good response rate, you don’t have this piece of data for 100% of your subscribers.

Probably the most common form of data collection is to run a survey.

Mailchimp and other ESPs offer a direct integration with survey platforms like Wufoo and SurveyMonkey.

Mailchimp - Wufoo integration

This setup is fairly easy. The main thing here is to make sure the data collected can be integrated into your email list:

  1. You connect the 2 platforms
  2. Create the form on the survey platform (Wufoo or SurveyMonkey)
  3. Embed the survey form on a page on your site
  4. Make sure data is collected and added to your list

Quick tips

Here are a few tips to make your data collection more effective:

Make sense

People must feel that giving you that information makes sense, otherwise it’s going to feel weird and the confusion might end up in losing the signup completely.

Don’t be greedy

Keep it to the minimum. Every single field you add to a form will reduce your conversion rate, and excessive fields in a form will turn people away.

How many fields in a form

This applies in both cases, a signup form and a survey.

Don’t get too personal

Asking for something like annual income might be a red flag for people, most people will think twice before sharing information that they consider personal.


Motivate people to participate by offering something. This could be a discount coupon on one of your products.

This could really increase your response rate.

Incentive for participants


Try to use survey platforms people are likely to be familiar with, and as much as possible, run the survey on a page of your site. Make people comfortable with a familiar environment.

No open questions

Never use open questions since they don’t provide data you’ll be able to use as a filter later.

You probably remember how I ask an open question in my welcome email (What is your biggest struggle?), this is qualitative data that you can use to get to know your subscribers better, but since the answer is usually a sentence or a paragraph, there is no way to create segments from this.

Don’t add Captcha

Don’t add Captcha, you’re sending this to your subscribers, not to the open internet. Besides, it feels like you’re giving people too much work.

Don't use captcha


So, we have to things to do here:

1) Determine how you’re going to collect data at the signup stage (if any)

Go back to your ESP and redesign your signup form. Remember to make sure to tag the fields so you can use them later to filter information and create segment with it.

2) Determine how to get this data from existing subscribers

Since you don’t have that same data from the already existing subscribers, design a survey and create a campaign to collect it.

Again, make sure you have a proper integration so that the data collected goes to your list.