Being part of the IAB email council, I get to be involved in some interesting discussions about the future of the industry, the impact of social media on email and the next big thing.
However many companies are still to exploit the full benefits of email marketing, especially when it comes to database segmentation and targeting.
One of the regular discussions I have with clients from numerous sectors is how to segment email databases and deliver more targeted communications to customers.
Many say they find it difficult to match back their email database to their transaction or customer records, or simply have no way of correlating their offline results with their online data.
As a result, they blast the one-size-fits-all bog standard email to their database of 1m anonymous recipients.
And while I agree these issues are often challenging - are many missing a trick, with valuable and important data that is just under their noses?
Email marketing gives you the ability to send targeted communications at a highly cost effective rate, and actually measure the results.
This is a dream in the world of direct marketing, where the results of direct mail are often difficult to measure without the dreaded promotion code.
With email marketing, tracking is just part of the course.
Open rates and click-through rates are standard terminology, but creative click and landing page tracking is often overlooked by clients and agencies.
It is easy to set up individual tracking links for each section or offer in your email communication, and reference these back to your email database.
With tracking in place I can immediately see that Mr Smith opened emailed promotion #4 on 17th June at 6:30pm and clicked on the special offer for x.
Two weeks later, Mr Smith receives the quarterly newsletter with lots of exciting news about our products and services.
He opens the email on 12th July at 7pm and clicks on the article about x and also the reader offer x, again indicating the type of products he might be interested in.
Now, just after a couple of weeks, we have invaluable information about Mr Smith’s email habits (we can see he opens his emails in the evenings), the frequency at which he reads his emails and start to make some assumptions on the type of products he might be interested in purchasing.
This is without knowing his date of birth, address, previous purchase history, order value, shoe size, or any other bit of accumulated data from our marketing database.
I often argue this type of real-time research data is far more valuable than previous purchase history, as it shows what a customer is interested in buying in the future, rather than assuming they will purchase the same type of product again.
I have seen companies spend months trying to integrate their 10 years of customer data with their email marketing, but for what benefit?
Just because I bought the Take That greatest hits CD in February 2001 (purely just for example – I really don’t own this) doesn’t mean I am going to buy another Take That CD next week.
However, if I recently clicked on an article or offer about jazz music, it could be taken as a good indication I was ready to make a purchase for this type of product.
A targeted piece of email marketing with suggestions of some great Jazz CDs could just tip me over the edge into making a purchase.
And I would place good money that the open rate and click through rate would be a lot higher than a blanket email to all.
Within a few weeks, I can send out 10 targeted emails instead of the blanket message to all.
This doesn’t involve any tricky integration with your analytics, complex CRM systems, your call centre or marketing database – just some simple email tracking that your email marketing agency can, and should, provide.
From my own personal experience, it’s a quick and easy win that will improve your sales results and your ROI with minimal effort.
Matthew Finch - view blog.