Blasting emails is a blast from the past, so to speak. Email marketers who regularly deploy the same content to their entire list will likely find their list (and revenue) dwindling in the long run.
It’s all about segmentation. Even the least sophisticated email platforms have the capability to segment lists. So take advantage of it.
List segmentation doesn’t have to be rocket science. Here are a few ideas, all easy to implement, to get you started.
Segment by geography
If warranted your database should include your recipients’ zip codes; this data can be use to segment geographically. The TravelZoo email below is target to residents of the Greater Philadelphia area. The targeting starts with the subject line, with a reference to “Valley Forge.” Philly-area residents will immediately know that this is a local offer. In the body of the email, the heading clearly states “Getaway for Philadelphia.” This is reinforced in the copy, which begins, “Less than 30 minutes from Philadelphia, ….”
Email marketers with brick-and-mortar stores can use zip codes to prepopulate the email with the address of the nearest retail locations. It’s a classic example of cross-channel marketing as well as dynamic email marketing.
Geographical segmentation can also be used to time when emails are received. Recipients on the West Coast can receive emails in their time zone, not that of the East Coast.
You also can use geographical data on a broader level. Let’s say you’re sending a “Snowed-in Special” to recipients in the Northeast. You can tweak the creative for your southern recipients, so that the offer still makes sense to them. Something as simple as changing the headline to “Not snowed in? Still enjoy the savings!” lets your customers know that the offer applies to them – and that you’re not lumping them in with their neighbors in the frozen north.
Segment by gender
When it comes to lists, it’s simple to segment by gender, via your own collection processes, purchase behavior or using gender recognition software. Valentine’s Day promotions, for example, lend themselves to this type of segmentation. The first email below from Ice.com is targeted toward women. Although it doesn’t explicitly say “for women,” the subject line and copy read “just for you” and the pink and purple hearts give the email a very feminine feel. The copy does a good job of encouraging gift giving as well as self-purchase by adding “(and your love).”
The next email from Ice.com is more generic – even masculine – and obviously geared toward gift giving as opposed to self-purchase. Here, the jewelry is silhouetted against a white background with no-nonsense black links below the images.
Segment by purchase behavior
Keep track of your customers’ purchase habits, then use that information to segment your lists. For customers with higher average order values, don’t be afraid to upsell or cross-sell in your emails. Keep track of customers’ product preferences. If customer Willy Wonka consistently orders dark chocolate, don’t send him emails featuring milk chocolate. Chances are, he’ll be more receptive to your offers. Sweet.
Segment by activity
Many email marketers group their lists by prospects, actives and inactives. They further segment the active group into top customers. Inactives are often defined as those who have not clicked on or opened an email in the past 6-9, 9-12 or 12-24 months. Promotions usually are focused on the active lists. It’s important not to ignore the inactives – they either should be re-engaged or removed from your lists entirely. ISPs routinely penalize email marketers whose lists have a high percentage of inactives.
This type of segmentation (or any segmentation, for that matter) can backfire, however, if not used properly. For trigger and transactional emails in particular, you must set up business rules for the segmentation. Like me, I’m sure you’ve received “Welcome back!” emails from companies whose lists you never opted out of, or “Thank you” emails from sites where you’ve never made a single purchase. That’s just bad business. Period.
Key takeaway on email list segmentation
No matter how you slice it, segmentation is key to effective email marketing. It allows you to tailor your message and your offer to those most likely to respond. Segmentation may require a little more work up front, but the ROI is worth the effort.