segmentation

How To Reengage Inactive Subscribers

By Rebecca Swayze

Your subscribers are busy people. It’s completely normal for a percentage of your messages to go unopened each time you broadcast – that is just the nature of email marketing.

But for all of the busy people on your list, there are also email addresses that belong to genuinely disinterested subscribers and it is difficult to separate them from the busy ones.

A reengagement campaign can help you identify those subscribers that still want to hear from you and part ways with the ones who don’t.

Inactivity and Why It Matters to Your Campaign

Inactive subscribers include all contacts who haven’t opened or clicked through your messages over an extended period of time.

With all of the emails that your subscribers receive on a daily basis, it is easy for them to lose interest in your campaign for a variety of reasons – from bland subject lines and irrelevant message content to a change in their lifestyle or financial situation.

It’s a reality that you must accept: if subscribers no longer fit your target audience, they will quickly become inactive and take up space on your list.

According to a study by Merkle Interactive Services (PDF), subscribers who receive permission-based, promotional messages delete 55% of those emails without ever opening them.

That is over half of all requested email!

You want your subscribers to open your mail no matter what when they request it, but if you don’t address the truth that subscribers interests change over the course of your campaign, you run the risk of losing subscriber attention and damaging your deliverability and reputation.

As the late Stefan Pollard points out in an article about engagement and deliverability for clickz.com, the “top metrics generated from activity that make up a sender’s reputation include bounce rates, spam complaints, and recipient interaction.”

Many ISPs now look at what recipients have been doing with your emails when deciding whether your messages belong in the inbox. All interactions (both positive and negative) are noted so that the ISPs can get a better idea of your individual reputation as a sender.

You always want your subscribers to interact positively with your messages so that they are delivered consistently. A bloated list full of inactive addresses will not perform well and could negatively impact your sender reputation.

How to Handle Inactive Subscribers

Assess the Situation

How often are you sending emails? Is the information about your product or service something that a subscriber would value? The frequency and relevancy of your messages go into a subscriber’s decision to stop interacting with you.

There are lots of ways to investigate the activity on your list, but segmenting and sending surveys is a good place to start.

Identify the Inactives

On the Search Subscribers page in your account, you can find out exactly who hasn’t opened your messages in a certain amount of time.

Perform a search for “No Opens” since a previous date. Most marketers find that 90 days without opening is an appropriate time-frame, however you can always adjust the length to suit the needs of your campaign.

Search for No Opens

Finally, save the segment so that you can send emails only to those subscribers.

Save Inactive Subscribers Segment

Send a Series of Reengagement Messages

Even back when your inactive subscribers were engaged, they didn’t open or click on every single message from you. And they won’t all open/click on your first try at reengaging them.

To find the people who are really still interested in your campaign, set up a series of three broadcast messages that make it easy for them to take action.

Send the second message to people who didn’t respond to the first one by creating a new segment after you send the first message, and then send the third message to people who didn’t respond to the second.

Note: with Broadcast QuickStats, targeting non-responsive subscribers is a simple process.

For example, to email non-openers, click the “Unopened” button:

Did not open button

Then scroll down and click the “Send Directly to These Subscribers” button:

Send to non-openers

Make it very clear starting with the second message that if they do not take action you will remove them from your email list. If they still haven’t responded by the third and final message, use urgency tactics to let subscribers know that they will never, ever hear from you again unless they take immediate action.

Not sure what kind of information to include in your emails?

  • Send a survey, asking them to provide feedback and offer suggestions for content that they would like to see.
  • Create a whitepaper or a download about your particular service or specialty.
  • Reward subscribers for (hopefully) taking action: include exclusive coupons or discounts for products.

Know When to Say Goodbye

Going into this task, you must accept that there will be people who don’t respond to your reengagement messages. Although it’s hard to let go of those subscribers, you want the most responsive and interested list in the long run.

Stay firm with the decision to remove inactive subscribers. Run one final search for people who haven’t opened your messages and delete them from your list for good.

Ever Run a Reengagement Campaign?

What was your experience? Was it hard to let go of subscribers in that final moment?

We’d love to hear all about it!

Segmenting: The #1 Sales Technique

By Rebecca Swayze

Salespeople often get a bad rap. It doesn’t matter what they’re selling – one bad experience with a scummy, slimy swindler and you’re left with a bad taste in your mouth for quite a while.

But for every scalawag salesguy, there are dozens of serviceable and accommodating sales reps that truly want to help you find the best product out there.

They engage you, ask you questions and soak up clues that could possibly aid them in closing the sale. They aren’t pushy, overbearing or deceitful, but instead they’re informative, helpful and driven to find a good fit for you – no matter if you’re buying a car, a pair of shoes, a puppy or a television.

Segmentation can help your email marketing campaign function in the same way. Read on to find out how to use this tool to maximize profit and keep existing customers happy.

Give Subscribers What They Want

When you segment your list, your email campaign assists your prospective customers and clients by providing them with emails that match their specific interests, just the same way a salesman would.

Here’s a compilation of our most informative segmentation posts to help you turn your campaign into a selling machine.


Start Segmenting: 3 Easy Steps
If you have more than one web form on your website and you’d like to track which form pulls in the most subscribers, learn how to segment using our ad tracking feature.

Email Web Analytics: 2 New Segmenting and Targeting Options
Ever wonder which subscribers aren’t opening your emails? Want to know who is clicking on certain links to your website? Segmentation makes both of those things possible.

Email Segmentation: 5 Groups You Can Easily Target
Learn how to focus on your non-responsive subscribers and those people who actually open your messages to make your campaign more relevant.

Email Segmentation: More Groups to Target
New subscribers and people who click on links throughout your messages are also important groups to target. Figure out how and why you should follow those subscriber trends in this post.

Segment Customers to Build Loyalty
When you have an existing customer base, it’s important to focus your energy on retention. Keeping those buyers happy and encouraging repeat business can be tricky. Take a softer approach to win their loyalty using segmentation.

Email Segmentation: Easily Target Customers
Your existing customers are just as important to your business as new ones. Reward repeat customers for their loyalty and drive repeat purchases by separating them from the masses and sending them specialized messages.

Email Segmentation Lifts Sales over $31,000
Ever run into a predicament and send a message to the wrong group of people? Here’s how to correct the mess up.

Segmentation Screwups: How to Recover
When you have an existing customer base, it’s important to focus your energy on retention. Keeping those buyers happy and encouraging repeat business can be tricky. Take a softer approach to win their loyalty using segmentation.

See for Yourself

If you haven’t tried segmenting your campaign before, there’s no time like the present to try it out.

Hopefully your subscribers will thank you for providing timely, relevant and targeted information by spending their hard-earned money with your company.

Let us know how it goes!

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Market Like a Mind Reader

By Amanda Gagnon

Market Like a Mind ReaderYou don’t need to visit a psychic to find out which subscribers will be pleased to receive your next email.

You can find out yourself by segmenting your list. Sorting subscribers into segments based on various criteria means you can send them the emails you know they want – all without reading their minds.

Your subscribers will be impressed not only by your apparent ESP, but by the customized quality of your emails.

You can segment your list in all kinds of ways, including how recently subscribers signed up, where they live and what preferences they’ve indicated on web forms or surveys.

Let’s practice your mind-reading skills now: below are six ways to segment your list. Which ones will let you send custom emails that your subscribers will appreciate?

Segment to Find Out What Readers Want

Online sign-up location.

You can guess a lot about a person based on the page of your site they sign up from. Should you email promos for women’s clothing or kids shoes? Healthy recipes or cafe coupons?

By applying ad tracking to your web forms, you’ll have more than a premonition to go on – you’ll be able to segment by subscribers’ “add” method.

Bonus: You get a glimpse of the nature of your audience this way, so you can create content you know will be well-received.

Personal interests.

You can also segment by subscribers’ interests. For example, your car dealership might want to see which subscribers drive which brands. You may also want to send broadcasts about those brands to those specific customers.

To find out what cars subscribers drive, create a custom field to add to your web form. This will cause it to appear in your subscriber search options. Simply search for the answer you’re looking for to create the segment you need.

Car Make

Survey results.

Subscribers may communicate their interests and preferences in surveys instead of on your web form. Don’t worry; you can still segment according to their answers.

For example, your real estate agency may want to email listings to your clients. Each client only wants listings for the neighborhoods they’re house-hunting in.

To make this happen, send out a survey asking clients to click on their neighborhoods of interest. Link each option back to a hidden page on your site. Then create segments according to which links were clicked.

real estate example

Prospects vs. customers.

Segmenting helps you market differently to those who have bought from you and those who haven’t.

For example, you could send e-book customers suggestions for practically applying ideas from the book or recommend similar products. Prospects still have to be sold on the merits of making the purchase.

You can create these segments in AWeber by applying sales tracking and searching for any subscribers whose sale amount is greater than $0. And when you’re ready to email your customer segment, check out these content ideas.

sales tracking

Online vs. offline customers.

While customers who visit your store might be interested in on-site event announcements, online customers are more likely to prefer coupon codes.

As described above, online customers can be found with sales tracking. It’s just as easy to segment customers who signed up in your store. When you import them to your list, apply an ad tracking category (such as “in-store”). Then you can segment by the add method “import” and your chosen ad category.

offline import

Location.

With just a little effort, you can keep your messages appropriate across the globe. Segment based on driving distance to your location, seasonal and climate differences and the times your emails will arrive in each time zone.

Create a custom field that asks for location, then add it to your web form. Search subscribers by location to send each group the appropriate messages. If your readers marvel at your accuracy, just tell them you have a sixth sense for these things.

Time Zone

How Much is Too Much?

How deeply you segment depends on how much time you can dedicate to customizing your emails. You may opt to segment only one way, or your list might benefit from a serious break-down. Some companies hyper-segment: for example, Cetaphil creates 400-3,000 versions per send.

So put down your crystal ball and pick up a pencil. Start brainstorming ways you can sort through your list to give each subscriber the experience you already know they’re looking for.

Because after all, you don’t have to be a mind reader to know there’s no such thing as too-relevant email.

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A New Approach to Email Marketing

By Amanda Gagnon

There’s a ripple moving through the marketing world, and it’s bringing change.

According to industry experts, customer service is “the new marketing“. When you take care of your customers, they feel good about you. When they feel good about you, they stick with you.

With email marketing, thoughtlessly pushing the same message at your entire customer base is no longer enough. It doesn’t take care of them. It doesn’t show that you recognize and respect them.

Let’s take a look at how you can apply the new marketing approach to revolutionize your email campaign.

It’s About the People

According to media marketing expert Chris Brogan:

“Old marketing would be: find buyers for my product. Hunt them down and relentlessly hit them with messages until they buy. The bigger the number of prospects, the better the yield.

“New marketing is more like: find people who make more sense. Start relationships with them before selling to them. Learn more about them. Make the offer – if it makes sense.

Broken down step by step, this advice holds several useful suggestions for email marketing in ways that serve your customers.

“Start relationships before selling to them.”

Interview with Chris Guillebeau

In a video interview, AWeber customer Chris Guillebeau says about his subscribers, “I’m going to be in these relationships for years.” So he invests time courting each one.

  • He sends each new subscriber an individual message to thank them for joining. It’s quick and small, but an appreciated personal touch.
  • In his first autoresponder, he candidly expresses hope that they’ll find his emails interesting.
  • In the next few emails, he challenges readers to reflect on their lives and goals – no sales yet. A few messages in, he invites feedback. And then he responds to it.

“As you gradually introduce products and services,” he explains, “many of those people will end up purchasing and supporting you.”

“Learn more about them.”

Learn more about them

The best way to learn about your customers is to ask about them. You could:

Guillebeau suggests the question: “Why do you read my (emails)?” The answers he got from his own readers helped him entirely reconceptualize his content.

“Make the offer – if it makes sense.”

Introduce new products ahead of time

Make sure each product you introduce is something your audience wants. Then, make sure you get them ready for it.

  • Guillebeau leads up to the launch of each product or service by introducing it ahead of time.
  • Flint McGlaughlin of MarketingExperiments suggests thanking existing customers for their past purchases. This establishes a level of intimacy and reminds them that they trust you already.
  • You could also segment – split your list into new, mature and veteran subscribers. Each segment might appreciate different offers. Every few months, reset the segments.

Keep in Mind

The key to new marketing is building two-way, trusting relationships with your subscribers. You want their purchases, yes. But you also need their word-of-mouth support, their ideas and their goodwill.

“You must overcome the resistance before you can even start the sale,” says McGlaughlin. “Don’t ask me to kiss you before we’ve even gone on a date.”

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Email Tips for Brick & Mortar Stores

By Amanda Gagnon

For brick and mortar businesses, email marketing may seem too time-consuming. After all, you’re busy designing window displays, training associates and counting inventory.

But emails can prompt more purchases. They can remind local customers to swing by and inspire long-distance customers to visit on their next trip through. They can even offer extra incentive to shop with you.

And though you may not know it, your store already has content for the emails. Read on to find out what this content is, how to get it to your customers and how to make sure it’s well-received.

How To Go From Brick & Mortar To Click & Mortar

How To Go From Brick & Mortar To Click & Mortar

Collect Email Addresses

First, collect your customers’ (and potential customers’) email addresses. Emailing them without permission is spam, so make sure you’re cleared to occasionally pop into their inboxes. Ask for them:

  • At the point of sale. Hand each customer a card with their receipt that promises a discount on their next purchase in exchange for their email address.
  • During customer satisfaction surveys. Include a field for email addresses, and be clear that those provided will be mailed to.
  • With signup forms on your web site. It’s a good idea to include one on each heavily trafficked page.

Send Messages

Once your list is ready, start emailing. Send out broadcasts to:

  • Bring customers into your store by alerting them to sales and promotions.
  • Demonstrate creative ways to use staple products. Make sure to point out where the products can be found in your store.
  • Introduce new products. Explain how they can be used with current products. Specify where and when they’ll become available.
  • Deliver printable coupons. These keep your customers opening your emails and coming into your store to redeem them. They also encourage new subscriptions from word-of-mouth recommendations.

Make sure to list your hours of operation and phone number, and provide a way for subscribers to offer feedback.

Segment and Target

Rather than sending the same messages to your entire list, you may want to boost relevance with segmentation. This lets you send each customer the emails they want most. You can segment, or divide up your list, in endless ways. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Ask for preferences on your sign-up forms. Add fields to find out what content and format each subscriber prefers. Then create segments based on those preferences.
  • Send out an optional survey to collect preferences after the sign-up – keeping the sign-up form itself simple.
  • If your business is a chain, you may want to segment by store location according to IP address. If you have just one location, you can use the same tool to segment by distance.

Use this information to segment your list. Then send each email to the appropriate segments.

Conclusion:

If you are a brick and mortar business, do you have an email marketing campaign?

How much time do you spend on it? How do you divide your efforts between in-store happenings, other marketing and your email campaign?

If you don’t email market, what’s stopping you?

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Segment Your List with Survey Results

By Rebecca Swayze

In a recent post we showed you how to easily ask subscribers for feedback by including a rating scale in your emails.

Using an innovative rating scale sets you apart from your competitors and shows subscribers that you are thinking outside of the box – that you really care about what they want.

It allows you to creatively request opinions from readers and build your email marketing campaign, making it more specific, relevant and well-received by your subscribers.

But what do you with the information once it is collected?

Divide and Conquer

Once you have subscriber responses, you can easily segment your list and send targeted messages to subscribers that will benefit most from your information (which ultimately leads to a greater return on your investment).

You know that no matter what response your subscribers give on your scale, they at least have an interest in your email because:

  • They opened your message
  • They read it through to the point of seeing your rating scale
  • They were compelled to rate your message

A Practical Example

For example, let’s look at The Friendly Plumber, a plumbing service that sends a monthly newsletter to customers who have used the service in the past. They most recently sent a message with handy tips for clogged drains and asked subscribers to rate their satisfaction at the end of the email.

The Friendly Plumber

Now, the number of subscribers who voted is evident in the total number of clicks for the message on the Broadcast Totals report.

Click Report

Plumbing is a personal business. Plumbers rely heavily on local, repeat business and word of mouth referral. Relationships are crucial to their success. Because a fairly large number of subscribers responded to their email, The Friendly Plumber could take the survey results and send a unique message only to the people who responded.

For the people who responded positively, they can offer a discount on their next service call and solicit testimonials for their new website.

On the Search Subscribers page, they would perform a search for the appropriate link:

link clicked

Then save the segment and send a message only to those people.

Satisfactory Segment

For those who didn’t find the email helpful, The Friendly Plumber could extend the olive branch and send a message asking for constructive criticism. Nothing is more appealing to a customer than a company that reaches out and engages in honest conversation.

Another Way to Use Feedback

The Friendly Plumber also has a blog where they discuss common plumbing issues and concerns. They send an email to their blog subscribers each time they post something new to the blog.

At the bottom of each blog broadcast, they could also include a rating scale, asking for feedback on individual posts.

The Friendly Plumber Blog Broadcast

At the end of the year, or whenever their newsletter needs a little boost, they can send out an email with the top 5 rated posts.

Don’t have a blog? You can still use the same concept, only with your follow up messages. Include a rating scale in each follow up email, then at the end of the year send a broadcast extrapolating on the top 3 rated follow up emails.

Now It’s Your Turn to Give Us Some Feedback!

Have you tried using a rating scale in your messages? What is your experience?

Share your thoughts on the blog!

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Start Segmenting: 3 Easy Steps

By Amanda Gagnon

Use Ad Tracking

Every subscriber is a beautiful and unique snowflake.

Each one belongs to your list for different reasons. For every email you send, some might just not care. To avoid subscriber fatigue, each reader should be sent only the content they want.

But how can you find out what they want?

You can ask them. You can send them surveys or add fields to your sign-up form.

Or, you can use the following method to harness the data you already have.

Use Ad Tracking to Determine Subscribers’ Interests

Ad tracking shows which web page each subscriber signed up from. That page reveals their interests.

Segmenting by these interests lets you send each reader the emails they want most.

For example:

  • Your clothing store is having a sale on children’s clothes. You want to advertise the sale, but only to those readers who would be interested.

    So, you search for subscribers who used the web form on your site’s children’s clothing page. You segment that group, and send the broadcast to that segment.

  • Your toy store is having an event for children with special needs.

    You want to target subscribers who signed up through your special needs toys page, so you search by that ad tracking name and email only that segment.

  • You post your exercise blog on the same site as your nutritional supplement e-store. Your subscribers from both pages are added to your main list, which gets your weekly fitness newsletter.

    When items in your e-store go on clearance, you email the segment who signed up there. Your blog readers may only want helpful information, but your store visitors are probably prepared to make purchases.

Easy as 1, 2, 3…

Segmenting by sign-up form is easy to do. Just follow these ABCs…

1. Apply Ad Tracking Names

First, apply an ad tracking label to each of your web forms. (You can also do this for people who subscribe by email.)

step-1aClick the “Web Forms” tab in the control panel navigation

step-1bAfter designing your form, click on the settings tab

step-1cClick “Show Advanced Settings” and create an ad tracking label for your form

2. Track Your Subscribers As They come In

As people subscribe, the form they sign up with will be noted. To see who came in where, search your subscribers by ad tracking category.

step-2aSelect “Search” from the subscribers menu

step-2bSearch by “Ad Category” and type in the ad tracking label you gave your form

3. Target Subscribers Based on Each Segment

Then, decide which forms you want to segment by and name each segment. Now when you send your messages, you can select the segments you want to target.

step-3aName and save the segment created by searching a specific Ad Category

step-3bCreate a broadcast message and select the segment from the drop-down menu

If you want to compare your web forms’ effectiveness and are not planning to segment, check out the ad tracking report for your list.

How do you segment?

Do you segment with ad tracking? What kinds of messages do you send to the different segments? Have you found that sending targeted messages affects your unsubscribe rate?

Your stories, as always, are valuable – to us and to your fellow readers. Please share them on the blog!

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Segment Customers To Build Loyalty

By Rebecca Swayze

Build Customer Loyalty

It’s easy to focus on attracting new business by using your email marketing campaign to promote your products primarily to new subscribers and prospects.

While email is the perfect venue for showcasing products and captivating potential customers, it is also equally important to focus on your subscribers that have already spent money with you.

Your buyers had a positive experience in the past, right? Capitalize on that and turn them into lifelong customers.

Here’s how to retain the customers that you already have.

Reel Customers In Without Selling to Them

Your existing customer base is different from your potential buyers. They already made the choice to trust your company with their money once, so take the time to build on your relationship after the sale.

Customers are more willing to shop with you again when they realize you don’t treat them like a number.

Segment your list and use these tips to connect with customers without constantly pushing new items on them.

Ask for feedback

Ask for feedback

Ask for feedback about recent purchases, and remind customers that good customer service doesn’t end when they make a purchase from you. Assure them that if there are ever any questions or problems, you will stand behind your product.

Suggest additional items

Suggest additional items

Suggest complimentary items that will enhance their experience with the product they already bought.

Add inherent value

Add value

Discuss different ways that customers can use the product that they purchased. Show them that there’s additional value in what they invested in.

How to See Who Purchased From You

This is where email analytics data comes in handy.

By adding a snippet of javascript to your website, you can track sales to your subscribers.

You can then see which people are buying and how much each purchase amounts to – and segment your list to target your customers.

How to Segment Your List and Send to Existing Customers

Once the javascript is on your site and sales begin to add up, you can separate the buyers from the browsers on your list based on purchase history.

On the Search Subscribers page, use the drop down menus to search your list for customers like so:

Search Subscribers

Then save the search directly above the results…

save segment 1

And send your specialized email only to that segment when saving your message:

Send to Segment

What if You Sell Multiple Products?

Sending messages to subscribers who meet a specific sale amount is helpful if you are only selling one product.

If you have more than one item for sale, you can also search for subscribers based on total order value.

search subscribers greater than

With a segment made up of customers with a history of large purchases, you can:

  • Suggest high ticket items
  • Offer incentives geared only towards the big spenders

How Do You Segment Your Customers?

Do you find that segmenting customers from subscribers leads to repeat sales? We would love to hear how email segmentation helps your business!

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Segmentation Screwups: How Do You Recover?

By Justin Premick

Email segmentation is a funny thing.

Used well, it’s one of those little extras that separates professional email marketing campaigns from disparate sequences of “spray and pray” messages. It gets more of the right message to the right people at the right time, and it amplifies your response.

Used poorly or mistakenly, however, it can amplify the wrong kind of response.

A pair of emails I received the other day demonstrate this and give us a chance to see how we can respond to our own segmentation mistakes.

Let’s have a look…

Borders “Store Closing” Email

Below is an email I received from Borders advertising 40% off due to a store closing:


(Click image to see full email)

This is a nice way to tell Sacramento area customers about a chance to pick up some books on the cheap. As a sender, you could reasonably expect an amplified response rate to this email, since you’re targeting people near that store who have likely shopped there before.

Thing is, I don’t live in Sacramento. Or California. Or West of the Mississippi. Borders sent the email to all subscribers.

From a technical standpoint, this email is just a segmentation “whoops.” Borders meant to send it only to subscribers in the Sacramento area. It’s embarrassing and they probably lost some subscribers (in this case, the mis-segmentation likely amplified their unsubscribes and complaint rate).

Next Up: The “Correction” Email

A couple hours later, this email shows up:


(Click image to see full email)

This “correction” email makes sure I know that I can’t take 40% off any products unless I go to the Sacramento store.

From a technical standpoint, Borders “corrected” their mistake. Might have lost a few more subscribers who didn’t see the first email, but so it goes. There was nothing else they could have done, right?

Right?

The “Technical Whoops” From the Subscriber’s View

Like any other “whoops” you might make, a poor segmentation can negatively affect customers’ perception of your business. It can dissolve the relationship you’ve worked to build with them.

Mistakes – or rather, your response to them – can also strengthen that relationship. And this is the real lesson from Borders’ example.

Borders saw their mistake and immediately went into “damage control” mode. Evidently they feared customers were going to show up to all Borders stores and demand 40% off, which confused store employees were unlikely to honor.

In doing that, they missed a HUGE marketing opportunity.

See, as a subscriber, the “whoops” email pointed out that someone else was getting a better deal than me.

And all the correction email did was re-emphasize that comparatively, I was getting a raw deal (Borders even included the body of the original email in the correction – really driving the point home).

While leaving well enough alone may not have been the best option, I’m fairly certain it was a better one than inciting subscriber jealousy. (After all, aren’t subscribers likely to take a cue from man’s best friend and resent the unfairness?)

Would it really have been so hard to give all subscribers a coupon for 40% off of one item?

It’s not like they haven’t done it before – here’s an email they sent me about a week before the store closing one:


(Click image to see full email)

Talk about a great opportunity to present an offer with legitimate urgency: “We screwed up, here’s a coupon for just as much off as the Sacramento folks got – but it’s only good until the Sacramento store closes on January 3rd!”

Lessons: What To Do When Segmentation Goes Wrong

  1. Decide Whether To Do Anything.

    Yes, mis-segmentation is bad. But does sending a “correction” email make it better? If not, does any email make it better?

    If not, you may be better off not sending one at all, and just moving on.

  2. Fess Up.

    If subscribers are aware that something’s amiss (even if they’re not quite sure what), own up to what happened.

    Remember, you’re trying to build a relationship with subscribers. You need their trust. Honesty goes a long way toward getting it.

  3. Make Lemonade.

    Look for opportunities to turn your mistake into everyone’s gain.


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Christmas Marketing Tips: 2 Ways You Can Use Segmentation To Increase Conversions

By Justin Premick

This is the 3rd of 3 posts discussing Christmas marketing.

In the last Christmas marketing tip, you read my thoughts on focusing your efforts on build your list, rather than pull in a few extra sales:

[H]owever hectic the holiday season is, and however much people talk about spending around this time of year, it’s only how long – two months? Maybe? Out of a whole year?

Rather than just squeezing another buck out of your current list, maybe you should instead work on getting more subscribers that you can build relationships with and market to all year long.

I’m sure some of you raised your eyebrows at that one. After all, building your list is all well and good for the long term, but what about now? Don’t short term results matter?

Of course they do. So how can we can get more sales, both from existing customers and first-time buyers?

Here’s One Way: Segmentation!

Consider:

  1. The more relevant an offer is, the more likely someone is to take you up on that offer.
  2. No two subscribers share identical needs, wants, interests and objections to purchasing.
  3. It’s highly unlikely that one offer, sent to all subscribers as if they were a homogeneous group, will convert at 100%.

(If you disagree with any of those, please let me know why.)

Now suppose that you could create two, three (or twenty, or two hundred) different offers that would appeal to different groups of your subscribers, depending on their needs, wants, interests and objections.

Do you think those messages, viewed as a whole, might convert better than a one-size-fits-all email marketing campaign?

Email segmentation makes it possible. Segmentation helps you get a more relevant offer to more of your subscribers.

So how can segmentation help us at Christmas?

Idea #1: Let Subscribers “Window Shop” Your Site – Then Send A Special Offer On What They Shopped For

A general discount or special on anything/everything you offer is one way to try to up sales. But it doesn’t make someone feel special. It feels impersonal (“you’re just discounting because you’re desperate!”).

But an email offering a discount or special on a specific product or type of product (or addressing specific concerns about that product) can tip the scales for someone who’s thinking about purchasing but isn’t quite sold.

So how do you make this work for you?

  1. Identify groups of products/services you offer, or groups of benefits of a given product. Create an email to address people interested in each product or benefit.
  2. Get subscribers to your site and let them shop around a bit.
  3. Segment your subscribers based on what they looked at (you can segment subscribers based on which pages of your website they visit using our Email Web Analytics tools).
  4. Deliver your targeted discount or offer to each group.

By creating unique emails for groups of subscribers based on what they visited, you can focus in on the products or benefits that are most likely to convert.

While this might seem novel, some email marketers have been using such behavioral targeting for some time now. (See what Google returns for it).

To make this work, get subscribers to your site and let them shop around for a while. Once they’ve told you what they want to hear more about, tell them more – and close the deal :)

Idea #2: Send Follow-Up Offers to Subscribers Who Didn’t Respond To a Previous Offer

If you don’t feel you have time to gather data on where your subscribers are going on your website, or if you can’t easily identify different groups of people you would want to target, this may be more up your alley.

As discussed in a previous series on email segmentation, one easy yet effective way to segment is to send different messages to people who did or did not show interest in a previous email.

If you’re offering multiple incentives to get subscribers to buy this holiday season, don’t simply throw them all out there in one email.

Instead, try this:

  1. Identify each of the main incentives to purchase that you’re offering subscribers.
  2. Decide on an order to present those incentives in.

    You might lead with your most broadly appealing incentive, and order your remaining incentives in descending order of appeal. Or, you could try going the other way. Your call.

  3. Create a series of emails, each focusing on one of your incentives.
  4. Send out your first email.
  5. Send the 2nd email only to people who didn’t order from the first email (but did open or click through from the first email).
  6. Repeat step #5 for emails 3-x.

Note that this is a simplified approach that may risk overmailing subscribers.

That’s why I recommend you not simply resend to people who didn’t open the previous emails – they already expressed their disinterest.

If you are going to send to people who didn’t open or click, I would probably not continue to repeat as in step #6 above.

Your Segmenting Ideas?

Are you using segmentation to increase your sales this Christmas?

If so, how are you targeting segments of subscribers?

Share your ideas and experiences below!