Preference seekers are the sweet spot in your e-mail strategy

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You may know that your e-mail list includes stay-at-home moms, in-store shoppers and bargain hunters, but there could be another influential segment hiding in plain sight: preference seekers.

No, preference seekers aren't on a quest to discover the definitive answer to the question: “Paper or plastic?” They're seeking e-mails that show the marketer understands their lifestyle, interests and purchase history. They want what e-mail has long promised: a communication channel that fulfills their expectations for true, one-to-one interactions. Here's how you can give it to them.

To please preference seekers, think about the small-town store proprietor. He knows his regular customers by name; he knows their families and their usual purchases, and he knows when something new might appeal to them. The success of this approach is supported by recent research from e-Dialog's Center for Digital Marketing Excellence. It showed that the top three things a marketer should demonstrate he knows about a customer are the types of products and services he likes, the types of offers he likes, and whether or not he is a loyal shopper or a first-time visitor. 

So how do you create messaging that incorporates these preferences and speaks to the recipient in the way he or she wants to be spoken to? It's all in the data.

Survey participants in our recent “Consumer Insight on E-mail Relevance” survey said they are willing - and in fact, expect - to provide preference data at website registration. They also expect to be asked about preferences within an e-mail. Marketers should also capture and leverage online behavior to round out subscriber profiles.

At this point, you may be wondering “What's in it for me?” Well, catering to these customers has benefits. First and foremost, you will be able to send them more e-mail, which generally leads to increased sales. Preference seekers tend to sign up for more e-mail, and they are willing to receive e-mail more frequently. Indeed 64% of consumers who expressed a desire for highly personalized e-mail also said they are willing to receive promotional e-mails “whenever the company has something important to say.” This is an important piece of data, because it puts control back in the hands of the marketer.

Of course, the need to deliver relevant messages to this segment is even greater, since its inboxes appear to be more cluttered than non-preference seekers. But if the brand can consistently surprise and delight the customer, it can create more opportunities to build a solid long-term relationship.

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