Five Ways Targeted Email Marketing Can Help You Hit Your Marks

The days of “batch and blast” email campaigns are over.

Well, maybe they’re not, but they should be.

One area where brands continue to fail is marketing to customers based on their preferences. Only seven percent of the brands included in Experian’s email marketing study use customer preferences to determine marketing channels according to this post on Optinmonster.

Indiscriminate, one-size-fits-all email blasts have become a lazy and ineffective marketing tactic. In an age when your customers and prospects are inundated with more email than ever, offering bespoke content based on their preferences and an array of other factors is key.

Making segmentation and targeting an integral part of your email campaigns can significantly increase both your open rate and your overall ROI. In a broad 2017 study, MailChimp found a 14.31% increase in email open rates in lists that utilized segmentation. This finding was coupled with a 100.97% higher click rate and a 9.37% reduction in unsubscribe requests.

Simply put, if you’re not taking this opportunity to curate and deliver the content your customers want, you’re missing out on one of the most powerful aspects of email marketing.

Here are five ways targeted email marketing can help you hit your marks:

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1. Break It Down – Segmentation

In order to effectively target your subscribers, it’s important to segment your email lists. Doing this well can transform your database from a blunt instrument into a scalpel. A recent DMA study showed a 760% increase in overall revenue from email when using segmented campaigns.

Simply put, segmentation is “the process of dividing a market of potential customers into groups, or segments, based on different characteristics. The segments created are composed of consumers who will respond similarly to marketing strategies and who share traits such as similar interests, needs, or locations.”

Here are three basic segmentation techniques found highly effective by MailChimp and other industry leaders:

Segment by Form Field

Often when recipients subscribe to your list (particularly when making a purchase), they are required to fill out a form which typically includes information such as address, customer type, job title, etc. This gives you the potential ability to segment your list by location, industry, and estimated income. You can then develop campaigns to specifically target customers from your chosen criteria. An improvement of 14.6% in email open rate was seen in campaigns that used this method.

Segment by Sign Up Date

Most commonly, this gives you the ability to target your most recent and your oldest customers with different campaigns. A whopping 29.56% increase in open rates was seen when using this segmentation option.

Segment by User Activity

Analysis of how subscribers have reacted to your previous campaigns gives you the opportunity to segment your lists based on how they interact with your content. A 10.44% growth in email open rate was achieved using these metrics.

2. This Time It’s Personal

We’re all familiar with the concept of personalization when it comes to email marketing today. The most familiar – and lazy – form of personalization is to include your lead’s first or last name in the subject line and sometimes the body of an email. This is still found to be effective in most studies.

However, this has become so common that many people are growing immune to seeing their name in the subject line. It’s time to go deeper and use your customer data to truly personalize their content.

The Power of The Sign Up Form

Information is power. When it comes to getting to know your customers and prospects, there’s no such thing as too much information. You can do a degree of useful segmentation and targeting using the parameters described above, but when it comes to getting really up close and personal, utilize the oft underappreciated power of the sign-up form.

Ask your customers how often they want to receive an email from you, in what specific areas of interest, and deliver content based on their preferences. Your unsubscribe rates will plummet, and your open rates will skyrocket. While one must be wary of turning off potential subscribers by asking too many questions or complicating the sign-up process, you can often strike a valuable balance.

Gender is one common question to ask. If you’re an online fashion retailer, for example, does it make sense to send out one email blast containing both men’s and women’s clothes to all subscribers? Or would targeting your male customers specifically with content geared towards men prove more successful? Perhaps a measure of annual household income is a more important metric in enabling you to better target your subscribers. Decide which answers are most relevant to your business then ask the right questions.

“But what about existing subscribers?”

“All I want from new leads is an email address, I don’t want to scare people off with a bunch of personal questions.”

These are both legitimate concerns. For existing subscribers, consider sending an email asking how you can better serve their needs. For new subscribers, perhaps the best place to ask for anything but an email address is when they opt-in to and confirm their subscription. Maybe you ask them to refine their preference in the welcome email you send when the opt-in. You are sending welcome emails, right?

Do what feels appropriate for your audience, and don’t be afraid to test different options until you get it right.

3. Know Your Audience

You have to know your audience. Collecting information about them using the suggestions above can be invaluable. Another powerful strategy is to create and utilize buyer personas. Per Hubspot, a buyer persona is “a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.”

Of course, you have to take the bad along with the good. It is also important to understand negative personas. This might include users who take advantage of your content with no intention of making a purchase or even customers who are simply too expensive to acquire and end up giving a negative return on investment.

Buyer personas can be created in a number of ways. The best of these include surveys, interviews, and other market research data. Intuition about your customer personas can also play a part, but base your personas on data as much as possible. You may even be surprised at what your buyer and negative personas tell you about your business.

Hubspot offers some great free tools and ideas for building out your buyer personas.

Customers vs. Prospects / Active vs. Inactive

One rule of thumb when creating targeted emails is that you should aim campaigns differently at existing customers and prospective sales leads. You will have specific data on existing customers, whereas with leads you may have nothing but an email address. It makes little sense to target your email marketing at these two different groups the same way.

Use what data you have on existing customers to refine and customize the content you send them as much as possible. By necessity, with leads that have only provided an email address and little other demographic information, you will need to be broader in your approach. The goal should be to have them divulge more relevant information about themselves as soon as possible, enabling you to target them more effectively in the future.

Another straightforward way to segment and target your campaigns is to look at how active each subscriber is in engaging with your content. One can infer a lot about a subscriber’s interest in your offering by observing how regularly your campaign emails are opened or how often your links go unclicked.

It is a good strategy to target active and inactive subscribers differently. Perhaps consider offering a special incentive to active subscribers or even sending them additional content. With inactive subscribers, particularly ones who have either never engaged with your emails or haven’t for six months, perhaps a re-engagement campaign is in order. If that still doesn’t entice them, there are many compelling arguments for pruning them from your list altogether.

4. Abandoned Hope

One of the most effective forms of targeted email marketing is the abandoned cart model. There are many reasons why a potential customer gets to the point of adding an item to the cart then backs out. According to a study by Baymard Institute, 58.6% of consumers abandon carts before entering the checkout process because they were just browsing and not ready to make a purchase.

Though this may be grounds for the majority of abandoned carts, that still leaves 41.4% of consumers who changed their mind for other reasons. Often, this happens later in the process and, depending on your checkout flow, you may have already obtained their email address.

This is where one of the most effective forms of targeted email marketing comes into play. What better lead to chase than one a few form fields away from making a purchase?

61% of consumers surveyed abandoned their orders due to extra “hidden” costs such as shipping, taxes, and handling fees. Seal the deal using a targeted abandon cart email to these potential customers. Offer them an incentive to follow through on the purchase. Examples include the offering of free shipping or a discount. The best part is, this process can be completely automated. (MageMail does this for you. Click here to sign up for free!)

One study showed 48% of consumers opened cart abandonment emails they received, and 33% of those people went on to make a purchase. This is targeted email success at its best. Business Week estimated that $4.6 trillion of online purchases perished in abandoned carts in 2016. This creates a huge opportunity for savvy businesses to boost their ROI through targeted email marketing.  

5. Testing 1, 2, 3 – Is This Thing On?

With targeted email – as with almost any other aspect of your marketing strategy – there is no substitute for testing. Try out the techniques above and see what effect each tactic has on the metrics relevant to your business. With more solid customer data coming in as your business grows, don’t be afraid to try new things or tweak your existing systems.  There’s always room for improvement.

Key Takeaways

Numbers don’t lie. The volume of consumer business emails sent each day is estimated to reach 269 billion in 2017. By 2021, that number is expected to grow to nearly 320 billion.

Segmentation, personalization, testing, and other targeted email tactics let you take aim at building and leveraging customer engagement and loyalty.

Now is the time to use the data and ingenuity at your disposal to create bespoke targeted email campaigns for your customers and your prospects.

Your subscribers and your bottom line will love you for it.

Like what you're reading?

Download our FREE PDF with our 8 great tips in targeted email campaigns!

Showing 5 comments
  • Blake

    Nice article Erik. I loved your take on negative personas. It reminds me of trying to sell to “no” people – it’s not worth the time or energy. However, what you should be focusing on are “yes” and “maybe” people.

  • Alexa

    Thanks for the reminder to create buyer personas. We’ve been so busy that we’ve left this on the back burner. We’re going to make sure we dedicate time and assign team members to work on this next quarter.

  • Joy M

    A personalized email goes a long way. We’ve started getting serious about our email marketing in our ecommerce store. We segmented our list by signup date and user activity, and have noticed an open rate increase by 18% and revenue by 12%! It’s powerful what targeted emails can do.

  • James Croudis

    I agree with pruning emails from your list. I’ve avoided it for about 2 years and kept trying to re-engage but just recently, I deleted all inactive subscribers and my sales have actually grown by about 3%.

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