Live for your high-value subscribers

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Erik Gabrielson
Erik Gabrielson

Which subscribers are responsible for your success as an e-mail marketer? An analysis of your success metrics — sales, downloads, traffic or whatever they might be — might yield some surprising results. A small percentage of your subscribers probably account for most of your success.

For example, 80% of your sales might come from 20% of your subscribers (the 80/20 rule). Take heart in the fact that this phenomenon is common. A producer of cheap beer might find that 80% of sales come from college-age males, for example.

Creating a robust strategy that treats your best subscribers with god-like status is vital. You'll be rewarded with loyal, high-value customers for quite some time. You might even find that it pays off to spend 80% of your time catering to 20% of your best subscribers. Here are some ideas.

Acknowledge them

Bob just spent $80 on merchandise from your last marketing message. During the past eight weeks he's spent $362, making him one of your best customers. Let him know that he's valued. Call out his VIP status or simply include a thank-you note in his next e-mail with content or products that complement previous purchases. Great customers will appreciate this extra attention.

Let them invite friends

Bob likely has friends with the same tastes and interests, so make it easy to let him spread the word with "tell-a-friend" capabilities. For example, maybe the $80 Bob spent with you was on computer games. He probably has friends who also like computer games and would love to receive an e-mail from Bob with these products. Friends of your best subscribers may be tomorrow's superstar customers.

Reward them

Go out of your way to reward your best subscribers. It can be through special discounts or exclusive content — but do something. Your competitors would love to have Bob as a customer, so don't give them the opportunity to steal him away with a free shipping offer. Provide rewards not only for purchases, but referrals as well.

Keep them at all costs

Losing great subscribers results in lost revenue and sticks you with acquisition costs to replace them. Even if you have a strategy in place to retain subscribers, e-mail addresses have a short shelf life. Try to get secondary e-mail addresses to use if primary addresses become invalid. But if addresses do become invalid, look into ECOA services. The cost may be trivial considering the upside.

Learn more about them

Let's say you've identified your top 20% high-value customers. They drive your success, but what else do you know about them? Carefully examine this group to identify any commonalities. Maybe they're in the same age range, have similar incomes or interests or live in the same area. You may need the services of a database marketing agency to append these types of attributes. With this insight, you can focus on getting more subscribers with similar characteristics.

Spoil your high-value subscribers rotten. Closely monitor their wants, needs and behavior. Whatever you do, don't lump them into generic communications that everyone else receives. They deserve better.

Erik Gabrielson is e-marketing strategist at, Premiere Global Services.

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