Successful E-mail Segmentation Strategies
According to a recent study by the Direct Marketing Association, e-mail remains the most profitable direct channel in a marketer's arsenal. In fact, the DMA estimates that e-mail programs will drive roughly $21.9 billion in sales by the end of 2008. While this is a great statistic, e-mail marketers can't become satisfied with their programs' results.
Remember, each of you is a single campaign away from your best customers' unsubscribe requests. How do you stay relevant? How do you drive performance forward and avoid the trap of resting on past accomplishments?
You do it by making a commitment to delivering more segmented and valuable digital communications. If you still send the same broadcast e-mail to every member on your list, or need to up your game to improve your segmentation strategies, read on to learn some tips that'll help.
The basics: Data
If you're just beginning to consider sending more segmented communications, the first step is to forget about e-mail and think about data. The data attributes you collect about your recipients fuel your segmentation strategies. Evaluate the attributes available to you, and determine what segments you can create. The segments should allow you to create e-mail campaigns that communicate specific messages to specific individuals.
A great way to get started with data segmentation is to develop "personas." In general, personas represent groups of customers based on everything from geographic regions to purchase histories. Personas make it easier to manage content as you begin more advanced segmentation.
Intermediate: E-mail technology
Once you have your data ready to go, you need to make sure you have the tools at your disposal to use it. The first thing to consider is how you connect your e-mail solution to the data needed to drive segmentation. The easier it is for marketing to access customer data, the more likely you are to actually use it on a regular basis. Find an e-mail solution that can connect directly to your database — or at least offer a direct view into the database to allow you to practice segmentation. Once the e-mail solution has access to the data, be sure the process of building segments and dynamic templates is simple.
Advanced: External data
Now that you have access to customer data, have built personas that allow you to send much more relevant e-mail and have a tool set that enables you to do so, what can help get you to the next level? Add enhanced data, which refers to appending database attributes such as demographic and socioeconomic data to your core housefile. Once combined with your database, this information helps further define and segment personas for more relevant e-mail communications.
The concept of using clickthrough activity on a Web site to drive e-mail communication is nothing new, but only a small percentage of companies take full advantage of it. Start simple with things like shopping cart abandonment. Then work your way up to responding to specific searches for products that don't result in sales. Communicating with customers during the buying process can increase your program effectiveness exponentially.
Regardless of the extent to which you segment your programs, remaining relevant is the key to continued e-mail success. Take small steps, but by all means, start moving forward now. Assume your competitors are already actively segmenting, and if they're not, you'll have a leg up on them until they get their acts together.