The 80/20 rule is the economic principle that 80% of your profits will tend to come from 20% of your clients. No matter what business you’re in, you’ve likely already experienced this phenomenon. A certain segment of your customers become regulars; they trust you and value your products or services and so come back to you again and again. Others will make a single purchase and never be heard from again, while still others will always remain ‘potential’ clients–they will contact you, consider your offerings, and ultimately fade off into the distance. A smaller proportion of your clients will even go on to become evangelists; they spread the crucial word-of-mouth advertising that keeps businesses thriving.
Each type of client or potential client relates to you in a different way, and so it is only natural that you should try to relate back to them in ways that fit with this relationship. This is relatively simple and straightforward when you are working with a client one-on-one. It is just basic salesmanship. But mass communication makes it much more difficult to give every customer a personal touch that reaches out to them at their current stage of decision-making.

If you send out a single type of newsletter to all your clients, some of them will ravenously devour the information, some will be moderately interested, some will indifferently delete or leave the message unread, and others will be annoyed to be contacted at all. Now imagine how much more powerful it would be if you could identify each of these groups and custom-tailor your messages exactly for them.
We have already discused the exceptional value of segmenting your email lists according to various demographic data, in order to appeal to different groups within your target market. Up until recently it would have been really difficult to expand the depth of this approach beyond demographics, to the level of the individual. After all, the only way to target the individuals within groups is to base your marketing efforts on the types of actions they have taken in the past. If someone is forwarding your messages to all their friends, for example, you can be pretty sure you have won an evangelist. You’ll want to approach them very differently than you would approach someone who never even opens your messages.
When ActiveCampaign released version 5.0 of 1-2-All, our flagship email marketing software, we wanted to make it possible for you to really drill down into actions that people take when they receive an email message from you. So now you can create a dynamic list of all the people on your mailing list who open your messages. You can create another dynamic list of all your evangelists, the people who are forwarding your messages along to their friends. And still another list segment containing only the potential clients who you have yet to really reach. And you can send out a different type of message to each of them.
The real power of this comes in when you start mixing it with the other features of the software. Split testing is a great example of this. Because if you were to create a list segment containing all those people whom you have never managed to convince to open up one of your messages, then you can make it your goal to shrink that list. And with every message you send, you can try out two different titles, to see what is the most effective type of title for getting people off of your “Never open” list. So each time you can convert more and more of those people who you never established contact with into people who are now reading your messages and building up interest in what you have to offer.
How powerful do you suppose it would be to send a message out to all of the subscribers who have forwarded your messages along in the past, offering a special gift or discount to new customers?