Email marketing: extremely effective, but surprisingly hard to get right.
One of the best ways to make sure all goes well is by targeting your email lists.
In this article, I’ll walk you how and why you should be using targeted email marketing.
Here’s what no one wants in their inbox: an impersonal email advertising services or products they don’t care about.
Unfortunately, brands all too often fall into the trap of sending anything and everything to anyone.
That strategy (or lack thereof) generally leads to a depleting email list and lack of conversions.
But there’s a way around it. By sending targeted emails instead of batch, generic ones, you can appeal more directly to the customers that matter most.
What is Targeted Email Marketing?
Targeted email marketing is simply the process of sending out more personalized emails.
It’s simply not enough to craft a single email strategy and expect your users to react and convert. No; these days, users expect a personal experience.
That means sending more relevant emails specific to where your customers are in the sales process.
It may seem like more work, but trust me, it absolutely pays off.
Email has a median ROI of 122% – over 4x higher than other marketing formats including social media, direct mail, and paid search, and 89% of marketers said that email was their primary channel for lead generation.
You’re probably wondering how businesses get those numbers. The answer? Targeted email campaigns, or as you’ll often hear segmentation.
Targeted Email Marketing by Segmenting
You can call this targeted email marketing 2.0.
Segmenting your email lists is basically is a way of targeting your emails down even further. Based on a certain set of criteria, you can drill your lists down to deliver personalized messages to certain groups within your overall list.
Marketers create segments to better cater to specific groups within their client and customer base.
And it works.
Segmented email campaigns get 14.31% more opens and 100.95% more clicks than non-segmented campaigns.
For example, a property management group may segment a list into renters and buyers, and then even further down to those interested homes, apartments, condos, etc.
That way, they’re not sending irrelevant messages to anyone in the group. They’re catering specifically to what each segment wants to hear.
Beyond the obvious benefits to clients, segmentation has many benefits for business. Reportedly, marketers have found a 760% increase in email revenue from segmented campaigns.
Targeted Email Marketing: Getting Started
Before you start segmenting your list, you’ll new to have a few basics nailed down
An Email Marketing Service or Software
Targeted email marketing seems like a lot of work. And up front, it is.
But with a little help from a good email software, the work is largely out of your hands after set up.
Most of the major software like MailChimp, AWeber, Constant Contact, etc. all have features to help you create opt-in forms, automate your messages, and support segmentation.
Email marketing basics tell you one of the best ways to collect emails is through opt-in forms on your website.
A Well-Defined Buyer Persona
To form an effective targeted email marketing strategy, you have to know the segments that are most important to your business, and how your audience fits in.
To do so, you must have a clearly identified target audience. You need to know them well enough to create a profile that includes age group, education level, hobbies, interests, etc.
Approach it the same way you would an ad strategy: In order to show it to the right people, you have to know which specific categories to target.
The same is true of your email lists.
Outside of just the number of subscribers, your opt-in form will play an important role in how you segment your audience.
That’s because the fields you decide to include in your form could very well determine which segment they initially fall into – job title, location, company, etc.
But to get users to submit those forms, you need to offer them something in return.
We call it a lead magnet.
It’s whatever you can offer your users (and based on your buyer persona, you should have a pretty good idea of what they want), to entice them to give up their info.
Here’s the thing: it has to be good.
People don’t like parting with their email address and related information, so you need a lead magnet strategy in place that’s too good to overlook.
Need some ideas? We’ve got some here.
Targeted Email Marketing: Ways to Segment
There’s an almost endless way to segment your lists, and your segments can be tailored to your overall business goals. Some of the most common ways to segment are by:
- Geographics (Location and related data)
- Demographics and Profile (age, gender, social status)
- Psychographics (lifestyle, Attitudes, Interests, and Opinions)
- Behavioral (Purchases, email opens, click-throughs, website browsing, etc)
Clearly, you’ll find no shortage of ways to slice and dice your list. You will find, however, that some ways are more effective than others.
For example: demographics. It’s a popular way to segment, and for some industries like fashion, it makes sense.
But many will find targeting by behavior to be much more effective, especially when it comes to increasing conversions.
Here are some segments you might want to give a try.
One effective way to segment your lists is by engagement.
Through the email software you choose, you can keep track of those most active with your emails and those most inactive by keeping track of your open and click-through rates.
With that information on hand, you can create different campaigns for active and inactive members.
For those inactive, you would know to focus on strategies to re-engage. Marketing Sherpa reports that, on average, marketers lose 25% of their email list each year (simply to attrition).
To avoid that, you can build a strategy around emails designed to highlight new features or offers, or simply highlight the fact that the user has been MIA and attempt to draw them back in.
Urban Outfitters does this in a fun, on-brand way that gets the message across.
Similarly, you can reward active members with exclusive loyalty rewards, etc.
Segmenting by past purchases is another common (and crazy effective) way to target your email marketing campaign.
It’s one you’ve likely been on the receiving end of plenty of times.
It’s great for conversions because the receiver is already pre-qualified. Clearly, they like your stuff enough to purchase it in the past. Why not tempt with something similar?
To segment this list, you’ll need a record of past purchases made, and which products in your wheelhouse best relate or compliment that purchase.
Then, send a “you might also like…” email (I know you’ve seen them) with additional, relevant items. If you really want the sale, you can even include a special discount code or free shipping.
It’s also a great time to look into upselling your customers.
Take Dropbox. Once a user signs up for the service, Dropbox will periodically send out emails enticing customers to invest in more space.
There’s nothing more frustrating for a business than the customer that makes it all the way to check out…and never completes the purchase.
Unfortunately, it happens (about 67% of the time!)
Good news is, they don’t have to be gone forever. Instead, they’ll earn a special spot on your segmented, abandoned users list.
Once they’re on your list, you can target them based on very specific behavior, i.e., the product they abandoned.
Kind of like Chewy did.
If you operate any kind of e-commerce business, I highly recommend giving this particular segmentation tactic a try. On average, abandoned cart emails average a 46.1% open rate, a 13.3% click rate, and $5.64 per email in extra revenue.
Behavior on Your Website
An abandoned cart isn’t the only on-site behavior you can target.
You can segment based on pages they’ve visited or any activity on your website. While trying to keep track of that data may seem a bit daunting, tools like BeamPulse are designed to do it for you.
BeamPulse will keep track of scrolling behavior, menus visited, time on page, and more. It’s an extremely cool tool, and when combined with an email service allows you to design and employ advanced campaigns.
You can also design sections on your site especially for users to help determine their tastes and interests. Allow them to favorite items or build boards (a la Pinterest) to better allow you to target them with relevant emails and items.
Wayfair, for example, lets users save items they like to a favorite section, and then sends email reminders to reclaim interest (and conversions).
This is also something you can set up directly through an email service like MailChimp. Use it to connect your site or store to the service, and it will track and send emails based on abandoned carts, product retargeting, etc.
This one may seem basic, but as they say, timing is everything.
That’s especially true when it comes to purchasing behavior.
Most email services will track the location of a user when they sign up for your list. Once you have the info, it’s your choice how you use it.
MailChimp highlights customer Rockhouse Partners, who used geolocation segmentation to increase attendance at its parties. Read about it here.
You can also use location to optimize the timing of your emails to those in different time zones.
Or, if you operate businesses in different areas, you can use geographic segments to make sure you send emails to each customer base at the appropriate times, or send special offers to the appropriate area.
Look at how Lyft did it.
They used their email to show how affordable their rides are in a very specific area. It wouldn’t make sense to send an email like this to their entire client base (in fact, it would only work against them).
But using segmentation, they can send specialized emails and incentives to specific locations. And you can bet that helped gain them some business.
Targeted Email Marketing: Best Practices
As I’ve been saying, segmentation and targeted email marketing can do wonders for your email conversions.
But only if you do it right. Creating the lists is only half the battle – the other half is making sure you deploy correctly.
For the best results, keep the following in mind:
- Use a personalized “from” name – using a real name (rather than a companies or noreply) will look less like spam and make the relationship more personal
- Include an Unsubscribe link – this is mandatory with most email services, and though we hate to see them go, it’s important to give your subscribers a way out should they choose to leave (pro tip: include a link to various subscription options, letting them choose the type or frequency of emails they’d like to receive)
- Write strong subject lines – segmented or not, a subject line can still make or break a campaign. Litmus recommends your subject lines be:
- Useful and specific
- Use timely topics and urgency
- Avoid promotional or spammy language
- Use power words – both in your subject lines and copy. Use the right words to invoke the right emotion. For example, instead of a generic “flying off the shelves” go with something more active like “bulleting off the shelves.”
- A/B test – this is standard email practice. Test everything from your subject lines, send from names, timing
- Personalize your emails – including a person’s first name can go a long way in engaging users
- And of course, always pay attention to and measure your analytics. There’s a lot to know here, and we have a full guide on the analytics you should be focusing on.
Get Started With Targeted Email Marketing
Targeted and segmented email marketing is an easy way to get ahead, and when done well, increase your conversions.
Remember, with the right tools and strategy in place, any brand can successfully segment based on the goals they want to achieve.
So if you haven’t already, get started today.