Time Based Segmentation

The secret ingredient of truly relevant emails

We doubt that there’s an ecommerce marketer who’d deny the importance of customer segmentation for email campaigns. When we have so much first-party data on user behavior, of course we’ll use it to give them a better experience and more relevant products!

However, there’s one additional layer of data that most ecommerce brands overlook and it leaves their email marketing somewhat personalized but not enough. A customer gets a message like this one:

“Hey, Dimira,

Need sparkly heels for that dress you got? We got you covered!”

And wonders: “I got this dress 3 years ago for a wedding and it’s definitely out of style by now…It doesn’t even fit me anymore, why would I need the heels?”

A sale lost right there.


Because the brand didn’t pay attention when the action was taken.

Segmenting by product bought and upselling with relevant products is truly awesome, but timing does matter, too.

The secret ingredient

For proper customer segmentation,

  • when a product was bought,
  • when the customer showed interest in a certain category,
  • when a huge order was placed,
  • when a coupon was applied

…is important.

Online shopping is a very dynamic behavior and an action taken too far back is long irrelevant to the customer.

That’s why for the best results, emails should be tailored not just by action taken but by the time of taking the action as well.

Time-specific filters in customer segmentation

Adding a time frame to customer segmentation makes sure you catch potential conversions while they’re hot. You want to offer products that people still need.

When the event happened gives you context for tailoring your promotion: was the person shopping for themselves or during the holiday season; which version of the product they got; how long have they been using it; did they use an influencer’s discount code?

Use cases of time-specific segmentation

If you think you don’t need an extra layer of segmentation, here are a few examples of hyper-targeted email campaigns thanks to time filters that will change your mind:

Upsells and recalls

To upsell properly or recall (%^&* happens) a product, you need to know who bought a specific product during a specific time. In these cases, it’s definitely better to reach out only to the respective customers and not anyone who ever bought the product, going back 5 years.

Related: Driving repeat orders

Reactivation of holiday shoppers

Last year’s holiday shoppers are a VIP segment to retarget this year. It’s easily done with a simple time filter and maybe an order value threshold (to make sure they shopped gifts, not just a one-off item). You know those people bought gifts from you before so a win-back offer is right on point.

Holiday Shoppers

Pictured: A selection of holiday shoppers for 2018 to be reengaged with a new holiday offer email.

Old interest, new offer

It’s handy to segment people by the coupons they used – it says a lot about their shopping behavior.

For example, shoppers using BACK2SCHOOL in August are most probably price-sensitive parents shopping for their kids. On the other hand, a SPRINGBREAK coupon in February is usually used by college girls getting ready for their week of partying.

A similar offer tailored to their interests will get you higher conversion rates.

Read more: Data-driven cohort analysis (Case Study)

Keep them up to date

To encourage old customers to buy, you can use behaviors like cart abandonment in the past.

How exactly?

Filter your abandoners of a specific product that you’ve relaunched or improved, making sure they abandoned the old version. Offer them the new one with detailed information on how it is better now.

New Version Product 1

Pictured: Selection of customers who added a particular product to cart and then abandoned it in the period before launching a new version of the product.

Restocking made easy

If your products need supplies – like a coffee machine and capsules, re-order alerts can be  perfectly timed for just when they’re running out.

Use time-based filters to identify the people who bought a month’s supply two months ago and there you have one particular segment to reach out to. Do that for other possible cases in order to drive more reorders.

In depth: What to steal from subscription boxes without offering one

Monitor influencer results closely

To pay out affiliate commissions, you need to be sure of the revenue brought in by each influencer, right?

A simple segmentation of the sales made through an influencer coupon code in the past month (or any period) gives you the accurate number without any attribution hassles. You can also retarget those customers on the social channel they found the coupon.

Coupon Used Last 30 Days

Pictured: Segment of customers who used a certain coupon in the last 30 days.

Instead of a conclusion

We honestly recommend you start using time parameters when segmenting your customers for more tailored email campaigns.

Metrilo does offer time-based segmentation on top of other 30+ filters, making possible hyper-targeted campaigns for all of your customers.
Learn more


About the author

With experience in FMCG and marketing, Dimira writes to help the brands of tomorrow succeed and believes passion is a key ingredient in any business.

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