Relevance is the Holy Grail, not just for email marketers but for marketers in general. The word relevance has been over-used to the point of making it a cliché.

However, at the heart of every cliché is fact, and think about it for any length of time it quickly becomes clear that every tool, every tactic, every strategy we use to improve email results is purely focused at achieving one result – greater relevance.

The question posed to me all too often is ‘how do I make my email marketing more relevant?’ There are a number of routes to relevance that you can take, and I have mapped out my suggested path below.

1. Brainstorm

First of all, brainstorm with your team or other in your business with a vested interest in marketing, what precisely ‘relevance’ might mean for your brand.

For instance, a simple interpretation of relevance for an e-commerce site would be to put products in front of customer that there is a higher propensity than random that they might be interested in.

For a publisher, it may be content that they want to be read. Sounds basic, but ask yourselves what is it that you customers and prospects expect from your email marketing?

2. Work with your database team

Then, work with your database team to understand what data could be made available to make you email more relevant.

For instance, at the lowest level, do you hold information on gender, which would allow you to address female products to women (you may laugh, but it is remarkable how many online databases do not hold basic information such as gender or even first name).

3. Use data to make your message more relevant

There are various types of data that you can use to help make your message more relevant. They are:

  • Core demographics: Age, location, gender.
  • Product: Previous purchases, do they buy from a single or multiple categories, for instance.
  • Recency Frequency Monetary: Are they a regular buyer or only bought once; when did they last buy; are they high value or an offer junkie.
  • Behavioural data: Data on what the customer or prospect has browsed recently.

These four types of analysis break down into three types of relevancy:

  • Core demographics tell you who the customer is and allows you to address them more relevantly.
  • Product and purchase frequency gives you their past purchasing history, and past behaviour is an excellent barometer of future behaviour.
  • Behavioural data gives you something very valuable… information on what your customer or prospect is considering buying now or in the future.

4. Make that data available to your email marketin

Next, once you know what information you are going to use to make your communications more relevant, then you must make that data available to your email marketing. You customer database must delineate your segments.

Your copy, creative, images and offers must then be formatted to allow for the dynamic content rules in your outbound or trigger campaigns to pull this data in. You need:

  • A responsive, real time, single customer view database facility. It doesn’t need to be your main database, as this will often be too unwieldy for the purpose real time decision making. But a mirror view, for the purpose of driving relevant email, most often suffices (increasingly referred to as an digital marketing hub).
  • An automation system to drive triggers. Relevant email driven via triggers is most powerful when it is using behavioural data to based on engagement. If you want evidence of this, have a look at this case study for Monarch Airlines where the company drove over 6,000 orders in two months purely based on search terms.
  • Dynamic Content that will apply the personal level details for each customer.

In summary, relevance is NOT a symbol in the subject line or even a personalised image. These are transitory tools that grab attention but do not make an email, or indeed your strategy, relevant.

Relevance is something the individual customer or browser wants to read, look at and click on. Relevance is at an individual level, and email marketers can use the data at their disposal to make everything they do more relevant.