Get email marketing right and it can deliver huge revenues for a very low cost.

Get it wrong and you are simply wasting your time, annoying your customers and damaging your brand. Here are 3 practical tips.

On Wednesday I had the pleasure of presenting a session on email marketing at the Digital Marketing Briefing at the Savoy Place.

My aim for the session was to provide 3 practical tips that could easily be implemented within 1 month, which would not require (too much) extra work and would increase your returns on investment.

If you have already succeeded with developing a complex CRM programme with a range of segmented and targeted emails, this is probably a little basic, but I hope for most people it offers some thoughts and ideas.

1. Use behaviour, not demographics, to segment your database

Demographics make assumptions.

Imagine that we launch an online fashion store,, selling clothing, footwear and accessories for both men and women.

We have an email database of 10,000 people which we decide to segment by age and gender, giving us a total of 4 segments.

Email segmentation 1

We could then map products to one of these 4 segments, based upon who we think are the most likely customer. Running trainers may appeal to young men, floral cardigans to older women.

But does this model apply to all customers? Are they buying a gift? Splashing out for a special occasion? Do all products fit demographics? Is the data accurate?

Behaviour provides insight.

What if you could segment based upon behaviour to help us understand what products the customer is interested today.

Email provides us with a wealth of information. Which emails did the user open/read? What did they click on? How frequently do they respond to emails?

Each response can be tracked and recorded in the database, giving insight on customer preferences and insight on future purchases.

At, we could measure from click data which users are looking at trainers today and send them a more targeted email regarding trainers.

Email segmentation 2

Very quickly we have a database segmented on real customer activity rather than generalised demographics.

2. Gain insight from other channels

Customers are likely to be influenced by a number of marketing channels before making a sale. Did they see a banner advert? Have they done a search on Google?

It’s easy to focus solely on the email activity and ignore the other influencers, but the web offers a wealth of information that could impact your email messaging.

  • Most popular webpages
  • Search engine activity
  • Comments in Blogs
  • Display ad response rates

With search engine activity, for example, we could compare search clicks for ‘summer hats’ verses ‘winter coats’ and look at how demand changes week on week.

At we could alter our weekly email newsletter based upon the most popular products searched on Google, even make a feature out of it.

It’s also worth taking note of hot topics and pop culture. Are lots of people blogging about a new designer dress or a pair of shoes worn by a celebrity?

3. Track and analyse responses

It may sound obvious but without some response metrics it’s very difficult to evaluate whether your email marketing has been effective.

Accurate measurement also gives you the upper hand over other marketing channels such as direct mail or press that don’t offer such insight.

Even for non-commerce websites such as cosmetics, automotive or fast-food, look for other conversion metrics to measure your effectiveness:

  • Contact us form
  • Brochure request
  • Coupon download
  • Events calendar
  • Call-back feature
  • Even just viewing product info page

These metrics will also give you an opportunity to re-target customers with a more relevant message.

Do some users only get to the homepage, whereas others get to the brochure request page but then drop out? Use this data to retarget the user with a follow-up message.

It’s also possible to test different messaging and learnings can be applied to other channels. For, does ‘25% off’ work better than ‘Save £10’?

You could use this knowledge to change your Press Ad or Direct Mail creative.


Overall, keep it simple. So many companies get engrossed in developing huge complex longterm CRM systems and achieve very little.

Grow organically by starting with one email creative, then segment to two and so on. And don’t forget to measure!

Let me know how you get on.

Matthew Finch – view blog