I Am a Segment

Like many consumers, I’ve opted in to receive email from my favorite brands. Over time I provide information about myself to those brands based on my opens, clicks, and other actions—or lack thereof. If those companies have the right analytics, processes, technologies in place they can use what they’ve learned to make the email communications they do send more relevant, and to know which messages to stop sending.

Consider Office Shoes: After emailing a specific test offer, the retailer learned than many “inactives” (customers who open emails, but don’t click within a specified period of time) preferred using coupons in-store rather than online. In future campaigns to that group the subject line included “in-store” and open rates skyrocketed.

Online retailer Beadaholique learned that its audience is very active on social channels, so it created campaigns to encourage social sharing among its customers. Results: Social sharing increased by more than 150%, with social views reaching more than 10,000 prospects.

In my case drug store CVS and clothing retailer White House | Black Market (who’s campaigns I mostly love) can learn from Office Shoes’ example. I have not, nor will I ever, buy online from either of those brands in response to a discount offer via email. Those are two places I always prefer to shop in-store, for various reasons I won’t go on about here—so much so that I’ll pay full price in the store versus purchasing online at a discount. However, anytime either company sends me a coupon to use in-store, I do my best to use it. So, really, they can stop sending me promotional emails I’ll never open. Please.

“Marketers are ever hopeful. That’s why they keep sending those emails,” Stephanie Miller, vice president of member relations for the Direct Marketing Association, said yesterday when we were discussing the topic. “You may not have responded for two years, but this next email, it may be the one you finally respond to.”

I understand, my marketing brethren. I do. But remember, in most cases data beats wishful thinking.

And if you’re thinking that it’s “cheap” to send email, remember the not-so-hidden costs, like email fatigue and opt outs. What’s more, performance numbers like opens, clicks, and conversions will increase when a company emails customers who are actually likely to take action.

Email behavioral data provides marketers with their customers’ implied preferences. Use it to segment those customers, to communicate with more relevance. Customer will show their appreciation by sticking around, and potentially buying more. They may even tell their friends that they never get “junk” email from you. And your results will improve in the process.

As the Six Million Dollar Man voiceover says: “We have the technology. We have the capability…” I say, use marketing technology to build the next million-dollar email campaign.

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