How CBD Brands Increase Email Deliverability and Sales With Segmentation

April 1, 2020

Key Findings

Brands who segment their emails see higher email campaign performance when they segment versus sending mass email blasts: As a whole, email campaigns that are sent to a select group of customers have outperformed their mass counterparts in terms of read rates.

When segmenting, brands tend to send out batches of emails that are just below 50% of their total email list size: Aside from PureKana, who sends volumes of just over 30% of their subscriber list, most brands aim for the 50% mark. 

For each marketing campaign, competitors send out at least 2 unique emails to different audience segments: Bluebird Botanicals typically sends out two email campaigns for the same marketing campaign, with each email containing enough similarities to convey the same message, but enough differences to be tailored to each audience group.

Using social proof is a favoured tactic for Fab CBD while Bluebirds Botanicals uses a range of segments for their audience: Bluebirds Botanicals seems to use segments from purchase behaviour to loyalty type to types of blog content visited to segment their audience. Fab CBD, on the other hand, prefers to target certain customers with highlights from customer reviews.

What Brands Should Be Thinking About

Send out small-batch emails rather than one-time email blasts: Segmented emails perform better and help in reducing potential spam flags, leading to more emails being read and more emails landing in inboxes.

Aim for batch sizes around 50% or below of your email list size and start employing tactics like A/B testing or sending out surveys: 50% is is a good number to start at and is a great way to start segmenting. Consider A/B testing your email with this split to get a feel for what elements of your email works and doesn’t work. Send out surveys or create quizzes on your website to start collecting useful information about your audience. 

Keep the overlying message the same, but have enough differences within the email content so that it feels tailored to the audience: For example, with Bluebird Botanicals’ 40% off sale, they made sure their header image conveyed the 40% claim, but while one had a double loyalty point offer, the other led off with the title of their featured blog post. Understand what your audience is interested in and use it to supplement your main message to maximize conversion and read rates.

Other than demographics and geographics, consider segmenting your audience by psychographics, such as:

  • By purchase behaviour or interest: If you notice a certain group of customers who are consistently buying the same types of products, group them into a segment and send them special offers or updates about upcoming products that fit their interests

  • By loyalty type or brand advocacy: Give loyal, long-standing members of your brand extra incentives, be it exclusive discounts, free trials, product samples. Consider turning these loyal members into brand advocates by creating refer-a-friend programs so that one loyal members becomes 2 members, so on and so forth
  • By shopping behaviour (cart abandonment): For customers who leave items in cart without purchasing, target them with email reminders about the products, offer them free shipping and other incentives, or, compile product reviews from customers to minimize fear of post-purchase dissonance

This tactic also includes monitoring the amount of money a typical customer spends, segmenting out high-ticket price purchases versus the norm. Pay attention to customers who abandon cart or customers who bought something once 6 months ago and never came back.

Bluebird Botanicals, who has 95K email subscribers, typically sees a +49% difference* in read rates when they send out email campaigns in volumes just below half of their email list size.

*compared to email read rates that are sent out to their entire list.
Email Read Rate
+/- % difference between the two read rate percentages

Similarly, Fab CBD rarely sends email campaign volumes over 35K, which is also below half of their total email list size (84K). These email campaigns also outperform the one-time, mass email blast campaigns.

Email read Rate
+/- % difference between the two read rate percentages

Elixinol, who has a list size of just over 40K, also sees a positive increase in read rates (+30% average) when they send email volumes of less than 20K.

Email Read Rate
+/- % difference between the two read rate percentages

Even though PureKana has a substantial list size of 133K, they favour sending out batches of emails of less than 45K per campaign. These emails, on average, yield a +14% increase in read rates over mass sent emails.

Email read Rate
+/- % difference between the two read rate percentages

Caliva, unlike the other competitors, often sends out one-time email blasts to their 68K email list. However, when they do segment their list and send volumes of under 30K, their emails perform +91% better than the mass emails.

Email Read Rate
+/ % difference between the two read rate percentages

Segment audience groups by purchase behaviour or intent like Bluebird Botanicals did in their 30% off sitewide sale campaign.

Segment Audience

They also segmented their audience by loyalty type, targeting customers have an existing relationship with the brand via active accounts and are likely to be advocates.

Loyalty Type
recipe blog

Fab CBD segmented their audience by psychographics, namely those who are ratings-sensitive in their Memorial Day sale campaign.


Using social proof is a frequent email marketing tactic used by Fab CBD. This tactic is also effective for other audience segments such as customers who have abandoned carts.


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