Columnist Daniel Faggella shares his method for creating effective email campaigns through strategic use of brand promotion and customer segmentation.
If you run any kind of online business, the concept of email marketing probably doesn’t seem all that difficult. You just type up your marketing message, press send, and blast out your promotional email to everyone on your list, right?
While sending whatever comes to mind is certainly an easy approach, it is by no means the best approach. The truth is, an effective email marketing regimen involves a little more forethought (and a much higher ROI).
While it may be more work than a blanket email blast, the concept is still simple. Just remember your ABCs: Aggregate, Build, Consistency.
A – Aggregate Your Lists
As a marketer, it’s easy to assume that getting oodles of subscribers should be step one in an email marketing regimen. I’m of the belief that before we turn on the “traffic jets” of SEO, PPC, content marketing, etc., we must determine what relevant groups / segments we’d like to identify in our client or prospect database.
The key to properly aggregating that list, however, is to also think of each email address or lead as a geological aggregate. That is, think of each email address on your list as a mixture of elements that you can separate into sub-segments. Ask yourself, “If I could break up my email database into groups, which groupings would allow me to deliver the most relevant, powerful messages to my prospects or clients?”
For a retailer, age range and gender might be the most useful segments. For another company, it might be location. For a B2B organization, company size is an important category. The most relevant segmentation criteria will vary from company to company.
For my marketing consultancy, for example, my main criterion for lead segmentation is the most important business goal of my prospect (get more leads, get more engagement, get more sales calls, etc.). This allows me to send future messages to them that are tailored entirely to, say, lead generation — appealing most directly to their interest and increasing their likelihood of engagement with my marketing messages.
Instead of just sending out the same message to everyone on your email list, look more closely at the data you have on hand to customize your message to different segments of your email list or lead base.
It can be as simple as dividing it up between previous customers and those who have opted in but not purchased. From there, you can segment further by dividing your list based how much the previous buyers spent, what they bought, or even when they made their last purchase.
If you want to look at demographics, offer a premium on your squeeze page in return for a short survey that gives a potential customer’s areas of interest, age, geographic region and more, and tailor accordingly.
Then, with different segments identified, tailor your message to each group. Using the above examples, make it as simple as different subject lines for each segment or as customized as different offers for each group. However you slice it, mining the data from the leads and emails you aggregate is a surefire way to generate more sales and/or upsells from your marketing emails.
The example above was based on tailoring emails to previous customers, but don’t forget about those that have never purchased from you. While it’s easy to forget about those non-buyers, churning the backend leads is just as important as pursuing the front end leads.
These recipients may have run through all your automation and are no longer getting auto-responders, but they must have given you their email address for a reason, right? Keep trying different messages until you find the right button to push with this group as well.
This group may be the portion of your email list that does get the non-tailored, generic blast — but again, take the opportunity to find out what you can do to turn those lookers into buyers. Make specific offers that will bring them back to your site, and watch your analytics to see which offer drives the most traffic. You can even offer a free e-book, whitepaper or webinar if they fill out a survey further specifying their interests.
I call this process “scooping the bucket” — but, regardless of what you call it, the ultimate goal is still the same: maximize every lead you aggregate.
B – Build Your List
Once you’ve put in place a solid aggregation process (and determined the most relevant segments for your leads database), it’s time to implement some email list-building strategies.
Though there are a thousand ways to drive traffic (far more than I could pack into one article), I’ll talk today about a content marketing list-building strategy that I like to employ with the help of social media.
While your first inclination might be to begin a paid Facebook ad campaign, it’s not the only option. If you need a free option, focus instead on getting featured on some of the bigger Facebook fan pages in your industry. And how do you do that? Start writing.
Interview the experts in your industry or even in the company on whose Facebook page you’d like to be featured, and write about it. When you’re done, take your finished piece to that company (let’s call them Company X) and ask if they’d like to use what you wrote on their Facebook page. If it’s content they don’t have, and it’s well-written, odds are they’ll feature your post on their Facebook fan page.
When that’s done, promote it. Direct your email list and your Facebook fans to your piece on Company X’s page. Share it across all your social media channels. Show Company X that you can not only be a contributor, but an asset.
So, where’s the payoff? While you’re writing for free, promoting for free, and that work is getting Likes on Company X’s Facebook page, you’re also getting exposure and higher visibility. That will lead to more visits to your website, more opt-ins, and more leads to add to your email list.
C – Consistency On Your Offers
Now that you’ve got A and B down, move on to C: Consistency. Go back to Company X with more content and make them the same offer.
Show them the work you put in to promote your first effort and ask them, if they run this piece, would they perhaps also include a Twitter mention? Again, if your second piece is equal in quality to your first, Company X will likely jump at your offer. And once you’ve been featured a second time, work on becoming a regular contributor. Here, you’re not building your email list, you’re building trust and building a relationship.
Leverage your continued work into regular features on Company X’s Facebook fan page weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. Continue to work and promote each one just as you did the first, but with each one, ask a bit more cross-promotion on their end that will make it a win-win for both sides.
As an example, for each post you provide to Company X, ask for promotional trades such as Twitter or Facebook mentions, sharing your post or your webinar with their email list or a feature on their YouTube channel. Building these kinds of joint ventures will present Company X with promotional content that can’t get otherwise while also delivering a consistent stream of email leads to you.
As you get new leads, start your segmenting process all over again. Mine the data you have available to maximize your every lead. Remember your ABCs, and your email marketing will turn into D: Database Marketing. I’ll save that for another article!