For a long time, email marketing had a “bad name.” Probably because it was so overused and so indiscriminate. Receivers of marketing emails became increasingly irritated with companies who were clearly invading their “private” email accounts with nothing but product and service promotions. They “spammed” and unsubscribed from the senders and vowed never to do business with them again.
Companies got the message. And for a while, they backed off large and frequent campaigns, until they could re-group. Instead, they added things (and still do), such as boxes to un-check if customers do not to receive promotional emails. Instead, companies began to use targeted ads on social media accounts and on the rails of home and email pages.
Fortunately, Technology Lends a Hand
It has become pretty clear that there is too much noise out there and that people are too busy for that noise. They only want to hear from companies they currently patronize and, even then, sometimes only at certain times, like for holiday shopping. At the same time, they can be brought back into the fold at the right time too.
And new customers can be courted as well, if targeted with emails at the right times.
Current active customers form still another demographic, who must continue to be nurtured.
So, how does a marketer figure all of this out – segmenting these audiences correctly, developing differentiated email campaigns, crafting those emails, and getting them out at the right times to the right people?
The answers lie in data analytics and the use of an automated email service, especially as an email list grows over time.
What Analytics Can Do
Just by using Google analytics, you can track how many emails are opened, who is opening them, who is linking to our site from those emails. And then, if your analytics are connected to site user behavior, once they do access your site, you can track the success of each specific campaign, to each targeted audience.
And the best of all worlds will be if your email service provider incorporates Google analytics (or maybe Adobe analytics) so everything is coordinated and you receive reports directly from that service.
What an Email Marketing Service Can Do
Yes, you still have to do the work of segmenting your audiences and crafting the emails. But you can schedule your campaigns through an email marketing service and receive reports on their success from that service.
What You Can Do
While data provides amazingly valuable information, you still have lots of legwork to do. Technology can assist somewhat, but you are key.
1. Conduct the Research:
There are several pieces of information that the analytics should give you. Use that information to segment your list and modify your email campaign based on that research.
- Who is not opening your emails and has never opened them? You may wish to put them in a separate category and re-consider whether you need to continue. At the very least, drastically reduce the number of emails you are sending them. Email service providers have algorithms that monitor this and placement of your emails in inboxes is somewhat dependent on opens, spams, and complaints.
- Group Your First-Time Customers: These are the people who should get a thank-you email and a request to provide feedback on the product or service they purchased. Seriously consider a discount coupon for their next purchase. You are just beginning a relationship here, and you want to “stoke” that relationship.
- Re-Kindle Old Relationships: you have past customers who are not opening your emails and haven’t made a purchase in a long time. Figuring out what they bought and when will be important. If, for example, you are a company that sells deck stain, and a dormant customer sits out there, how long ago did that customer make a purchase? How often do people stain their decks? Are you sending emails during the winter months to people in the northern part of the U.S.? This is why segmentation is important – even by geography at times.
If you sell year-round products or services, however, and you have dormant customers, then you need an email that will win them back. Do you have new products to offer? Is a holiday coming, and can you provide great special pricing for gifts?
Dollar Shave Club began as a subscription-based razor “club.” Men could subscribe to receive regular shipments of razors, so they would never run out and never have to worry about stopping by the store to get them. But once a subscriber was acquired, he became dormant, having made his initial purchase. Of course, the company continued to receive the monthly fee, but what else could they do to bring these “dormants” back for more? They added new products; they reached out to the partners and wives of these early subscribers with a female subscription program. They suggested that these initial subscribers give the same subscription as gifts to family and friends.
So, we have groups segmented by their customer behavior.
There are other ways to segment target audiences, and each company/marketer must decide how to do this.
- You can separate by interest. If you sell a wide variety of clothing items, you have men, women, seniors, teenagers – you will want to segment by products/interests. If you sell pet products, you can separate by interest as well – dog, cat, bird, etc.
- You can also segment by location. If you are a Macy’s or Home Depot, you have an online and a ground presence. If you are conducting geo-location tracking, you can push notifications of specials in specific locations. You can send emails of in-store sales and discounts to those who live close to one of your retail locations.
When someone completes an online purchase at Home Depot, their zip code is entered. Immediately, that zip code is attached to that email address. This can provide segmented lists for future marketing on local specials. Note in the left-hand upper corner, that the location is identified. And the email marketing company that Home Depot uses can immediately place a new customer in the appropriate segments based upon Home depot directions.
Here is an example of how Mail Chimp does this:
Cross segmentation is also a good strategy. So, if you conduct your research thoroughly, you could segment by both past purchasing behavior and interests, separating out those email groups as much as you want to – so long as you are willing to create the number of unique emails that you may need to.
2. Creating That Email Content
This can be a tough task. Not only do different emails have to be crafted for each segment, but they also have to be creatively written. And, depending upon the schedule that is developed for each segment, they may need to be written quickly and often. Content creators have to do several things in their professional writing careers if they are going to produce emails that will be both opened and engaging. To be sure, there are many content creation tools to help along the way. These tools are used for many things: creating compelling subject lines and appealing/entertaining text, for example. Other content tools will help writers use awesome templates and create great visuals – things that will attract and engage readers.
There are also times when content creators themselves are on “overload.” Many business owners, in fact, who do not have the budget for employed content writers, will contract for writing help from creative writing departments of a writing service.
However it is done, the emails must be creatively designed and sent out on a regular schedule for each segment. Here is a subject line from Venus Clothing Retailer to a customer who has made a purchase within the past three months:
Note the urgency in the subject line. 65% off for one day only.
The email itself is filled with colorful pictures of modeled clothing and sale prices, if the customer orders today.
The same email might be sent to many other segments, but the subject line may change. For customers who have not returned for a long time, it might read:
“We miss you. Here’s a 1. Day. Sale. Just for you.”
3. Continued Re-Assessment
No email marketing campaign can continue to roll by just adding new people to those segments and continuing to create more content for them. The data must continue to be analyzed to know if “opens” are increasing; if sales are going up. And, if there are segments which are not changing, then it is time to re-evaluate the email marketing to those segments.
The key to successful email marketing is precision. And that precision comes from doing the right research, identifying segments, and then crafting the right content for each of those segments. This reduces the “noise” for your recipients and makes them feel that they are valued as individuals.
P. S. Just to be sure you get Marketing Templates in the right place.