A Twitterview: E-mail Segmentation Tips From Sierra Trading Post, Part 2
Editor's note: This week we feature the second part of our interview with Wendy Croissant, e-mail marketing manager for outdoor gear and apparel cataloger Sierra Trading Post, conducted over the microblogging service Twitter, aka a Twitterview. We'll run other Twitterviews periodically.
For part one, click here.
In our Twitterview, we discuss how powerful a strategy segmentation is for e-mail marketing. Creating the kind of great e-mail experiences that increase response and help ensure inbox deliverability are predicated on relevancy.
Wendy shares some great tips and learnings. The key takeaways from part one include the following:
- Segmentation is worth the time and effort even if lists are pulled manually, Croissant says, noting that Sierra Trading Post finds the boost in revenue worthwhile. The increased ROI is worth all the time and effort you put into it.
- Segmentation improves the subscriber experience and lowers complaints or clicks on the “Report Spam” button. It's a crucial way to reach the inbox.
- E-mail segmentation provides valuable insight into what works and what doesn’t for various types of customers/prospects. That data can effectively shape merchandise and marketing outreach strategies.
- Don’t let segmentation overwhelm or intimidate you. Take it slow, test and find the kind of segmenting that works for you.
Selling via multiple channels
E-mail subscribers are connected to a brand or store via multiple channels. “We’ve found that multichannel customers have higher average order value and increased response, so we segment them differently,” Croissant says.
Carry that relationship all the way through to conversion. “We segmented an e-mail promoting specific shoe sizes and optimized the landing page to feature those sizes. We received great conversion from that [promotion],” Croissant says.
Like all good things, sometimes too much is just too much. High frequency is tempting in e-mail marketing, as it’s inexpensive to send and generates immediate revenue — for retailers specifically. But there's a limit. “Too much e-mail” is the No. 1 reason cited for unsubscribe requests. High volume also can drive higher complaints and depress deliverability. (Check to see if this is a risk for your business at Return Path’s free sender reputation site, SenderScore.org.)
“We find that frequency is a poor measure of engagement,” Croissant says. “Only in certain situations — such as just after purchase or during hunting season for hunters — does high frequency seem to work.” Segmentation guides the frequency, she adds.
The e-mail/social media connection
The impact of social media followers is a little harder to track, Croissant says, because there are no readily available unique identifiers like e-mail addresses that can be matched back to other databases.
One follower of the Twitterview suggests collecting TwitterIDs (such as @StephanieSAM) at the point of subscription or in the preference center to alleviate this issue. That might work if there’s a clear benefit for providing it.
Another idea is to reach out personally to people who retweet, or forward, tweet offers and invite them to be VIPs. Tracking offers unique to Twitter tells you if your followers are buyers or if they just forward great deals. If it’s the latter, then they're purely influencers. A VIP package geared to buyers wouldn't appeal to them or adequately reward them.
Sierra Trading Post has its own TwitterID (@Sierratp) for sharing offers from its Web site. “We try to balance it out with tweets about our blog postings as well,” Croissant says. “We don’t want it to just be about deals. We’re trying to build a sense of community, too.”
Croissant dismisses the possibility that Twitter will replace e-mail. “Twitter is exciting right now, but when the ‘new car’ smell wears off, people may move on,” she says.
Are you doing something cool with e-mail or social media? Want to be interviewed in a Twitterview? Want to hear from someone else in a Twitterview? Please post a comment here with suggested topics or interviewees.
Stephanie Miller is the vice president of market development at Return Path, a New York City-based e-mail deliverability firm. Reach Stephanie at stephanie [dot] miller [at] returnpath [dot] net or via Twitter @StephanieSAM. Reach Wendy Croissant via Twitter @email_queen.