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If you could only send one more marketing email, what type of email would it be?

Would it be acquisition? Retention? A bit of cross selling perhaps? Let’s face it, the options are almost endless! If you’re like me, you probably want it to be the one that makes the most money.

That makes sense doesn’t it? Why waste time on emails that don’t work? So it would need to be highly targeted, sent to people who want to receive it and sent to the people most likely to buy now.

So how does the marketer find that segment of people? What differentiates these people from the rest of the list? And what can marketers practically do to add this email segment to their campaign programme?

Email is undoubtedly one of the most effective types of push marketing you can get today. But to get it to work properly, you need to know what to send and to whom.

If you look at the email addresses in your list, they will all vary in their potential value to you as a marketer. The ones who haven’t brought anything at all, or not visited the website or opened an email in a long time, are probably right at the bottom of the pile in potential value, but those who are visiting the site regularly, choosing products, going through the buying process, sit well and truly on the other end of the spectrum in terms of value.

These regularly active users, even if they haven’t bought yet, are close to buying, increasing their value as a customer. And arguably, the further they get down the conversion funnel the higher the potential value they have.

Ultimately a user will buy, or not. And it’s these 'nots' that represent some of the biggest opportunities in email marketing.

The recent Conversion Report from Econsultancy and RedEye found that of the 35% of organisations who DID target these 'nots' (people who abandon their online baskets or shopping trolleys), 84% of them had seen improvements in conversion rates. 

So targeting abandoners makes sense. But there are still quite a few organisations happy to leave this type of email to their competition (53% of those surveyed!) and the cynic in me can’t help thinking that one of the elements that makes targeting abandoners so successful is that so few are currently doing it.

The future of email is changing; it’s not that the technology is changing, or that new applications are making email easier, it’s that customers are changing their attitude to marketing. The DMA recently published research (Data Tracking Study 2010) which suggests the highest changes in attitude to unsubscribing had come under the 'irrelevant or over communication' banners.  

This shows it’s even more important to get your targeting right; and if I could send only one type of email, I would want it to produce the best result as far as revenue is concerned and also improve my relationship with the customer.

And what better way to achieve this than a customer service email, focused on helping the ones that got away come back to my website and buy my product.

Contrary to some popular opinion, this type of email doesn’t always need to contain more money off as the customers were pretty close to buying the first time. And while they are merrily surfing around, comparing prices and products again, it doesn’t take too much of a nudge to get them to come back, to take another look and have another go.

If email campaigns were chosen on ROI and value to the customer experience, then this is a good place to start. Every email marketer can easily send out broadcast emails, but we all know where that leads eventually.

Everyone knows that sending highly targeted relevant emails work and choosing ones that are based on the customer’s web behaviour are a good place to start. The easiest of these is the cart or basket abandonment email and once this is in place, you can begin looking further up the conversion funnel to find other pots of gold.

Tim Roe

Published 12 January, 2011 by Tim Roe

Tim Roe is Director of Data and Deliverability at Redeye International and a contributor to Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter, Google+ or connect via LinkedIn

22 more posts from this author

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Will Hunting

If you were trapped on a desert island, what would you take with you?  This and other theoretical questions may generate a little bit of thought, but it misses the point - email marketing works best when part of an integrated communications programme.  Sending out one type of email?  You are missing the point.  Multiple emails offering multiple benefits is when you really start seeing the benefits of what you are doing.  Basket abandonment campaigns are good - but is only one small part of an effective email marketing ecosystem. 

over 5 years ago

Peter Wilson

Peter Wilson, Digital Strategy Manager at Sage UK

I'll disagree with Wills point above and suggest that if there was more thinking about email marketing rather than just doing then the quality of email marketing would improve.

over 5 years ago

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Will Hunting

Peter, I don't disagree with you - the world of email marketing is a spectrum, not polar. Therefore there is a happy medium to be found where we're not spamming people (i.e. quantity over all else) but are still focusing on relevance (i.e. quality.) While it would be great to send out fewer emails, if this adversely affects revenue generation then... well, spammers be damned, we'll send out more. But boiling it down to one single email is myopic... and potentially damaging to one's business.

over 5 years ago

Tim Roe

Tim Roe, Deliverability and Compliance Director at RedEyeEnterprise

HI Will, thanks for your feedback. I absolutely agree with most of what you say, and this post certainly didn’t intend to suggest that your email marketing strategy should comprise of one email, so sorry if that’s the way it came across. I intended it as a thought piece (as you suggested in your first post) focusing on what is still a little used email campaign. I was trying to highlight the differences in subscriber value, based on their position in the customer lifecycle, and using this to target an email at a particular segment (basket abandoners) based on their behaviour.

over 5 years ago

Peter Wilson

Peter Wilson, Digital Strategy Manager at Sage UK

Good response Will. Tim - I took your point to be one of 'yake a step back and really unerstand where the value is in your email marketing'. I enjoyed the piece. Pete

over 5 years ago

Tim Roe

Tim Roe, Deliverability and Compliance Director at RedEyeEnterprise

Thanks Pete, Yes the post was indeed about stepping back and taking a fresh look at what you do with your email marketing. However, breaking away from the traditional volume based approach is quite a culture shift for some marketers. And I feel that it’s not because they don’t want to do it, it more about the commercial pressure on the business makes “fresh looks” seem risky. The beauty of picking a basket abandonment email as a start to this “fresh look” process is that it needn’t impact on the existing revenue drivers (it adds immediate value). Once this is in place, it is then less of a battle to justify looking for new opportunities based on behavioural data and customer knowledge.

over 5 years ago

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