One client, the U.K. wedding and special occasion business Confetti, personalized e-mails individually with such information. In 2008, right after moving to this approach, Confetti achieved an open rate of 33 percent, a clickthrough rate of 10 percent and a conversion rate of 1.3 percent. The average order value rose 85 percent, she adds.
If, in the opt-in form, e-mail marketers haven't asked subscribers about their preferences and demographics, marketers also can track the links recipients click on and then segment accordingly, Silverpop's McDonald says.
Mabley adds that abandoned shopping carts and highly visited spots on the Web site can provide the same level of detail for segmentation.
Some may even use the history as the campaign itself. McDonald says Diapers.com created an entire shopping cart abandonment campaign, e-mailing parents, "We know how hectic life with a baby can be! If you'd like to come back and complete your purchase, simply click, 'View Cart.'" In May 2008, the campaign generated 78 percent higher clickthrough rates than previous campaigns, 129 percent higher conversions and 10.4 percent of the total e-mail marketing revenue for that month.
E-mail marketers need to research their subscribers in more ways than that, says Stephanie Miller, vice president of global market development at New York-based Return Path, an e-mail performance management company.
"Where do they get information?" she asks. "Who do they trust? What kind of information do they look for? [E-mail marketers should be] looking at social forums, news outlets, Facebook, Twitter, that kind of stuff. So if your customers are in those locations, you need to be there, too."
3. Don't forget to test.
McDonald says simply tracking clickthrough rates by domain can diagnose problems. For instance, if AOL has much lower clickthrough rates than Yahoo, MSN, Hotmail and Gmail, it may mean links aren't appearing correctly in AOL accounts.