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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.

Matthew Finch

Published 28 November, 2007 by Matthew Finch

25 more posts from this author

Comments (3)

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BetterRetail

Matthew: I could not agree more. As I see it email marketing programs suffer from 3 things:

- Most companies under staff for the role.

- Email marketing (for the most part) still has a favorable ROI. So as long as its
performing better than direct mail marketers don’t want to play with the formula.

-As marketers review their competition they see all of them playing the 'volume/frequency' game with the prize going to the one that can jam the most emails. In such an environment they are forced to take a similar strategy. Its like an arms race.

I believe unless we educate top management on the effectiveness of email marketing and its importance we will continue to be pushed down this path. Thank you for highlighting such an important issue.

almost 9 years ago

Steven Webster

Steven Webster, Head of Ecommerce at Fashion Union

Hi Matt,

I'd agree wholeheartedly with your sentiments and the value you place on real time research, but I'd ask one question. Why stop tracking at a landing page?

Surely the quality of the data is vastly improved if you follow Mr Smith's journey through your site. This online behaviour will demonstrate even more about Mr Smith's interests and proclivities. We could see, as you described, Mr Smith's interest in X and also if Mr Smith has interests in other products or services detailed on the site (but excluded from your original mailing). That's just one of the many variables that could be used to refine segmentation through behaviour even further.

For instance, what if Mr Smith visits the website in between email campaigns? It is a significant piece of information (or set of data) to overlook in your behavioural targeting. Personally, I've never understood why such important actions/behaviours are overlooked in the measurement and segmentation process.

Otherwise, I think you are on the money.

Regards,

Steve

almost 9 years ago

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Targeted Email Marketing

Hey thank you for nice targeted email marketing information and guide. I will just say that targeted email marketing works, if you know how to use it properly. This requires targeted leads and strong relationship with your list. Which you can build by giving them enough quality information and help them solving their problems, this way they will trust you and admire your recommendations. Hope this information will help.

over 5 years ago

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