The Buzz On Targeting Active Customers

The clouds of swarming insects on a bee farm require careful nurturing. If they get it, they’ll produce wells of golden honey.

So it makes sense that Lori Titus, owner and beekeeper at the Bee Folks, applies her experience to nurture her hordes of subscribers in a way that gets results.

We were able to discuss the Bee Folks’ email campaign with Lori, and five of her methods stuck with us. Read on for her tips on how to sweeten your own campaign.

Target the Right Readers

Lori uses confirmed opt-in on all the Bee Folks’ lists. She reports that about a third of original sign ups confirm and end up on the list. That may seem low, but Lori appreciates that uninterested prospects are weeded out.

“By using that double opt-in,” she explains, “it’s the active customers who we get and those who really want to hear from me.”

They also position their sign up form carefully to invite the right site visitors to subscribe. “We want to target the ones who are active,” Lori says. Therefore, the thank-you page after someone completes the checkout process has a hover form that returns a good number of subscribers.

“If somebody’s already made a purchase from us,” Lori says, “These are the people I want to keep in contact with.”

Know Who Your Customers Are

Lori uses Google Analytics to figure out who shops on the Bee Folks’ site, and with that information, she’s put together a target customer profile. “Most of our customers are young,” she says. “They’re in their early 30s, not millionaires, but they’ve got some disposable income, and they’re tech-savvy.”

Having this customer profile helps Lori figure out what kind of content to send her subscribers. It also helps her figure out how to reach them.

Choose the Appropriate Marketing Mediums

Because their target customer is young and tech-savvy, email makes a lot of sense as a marketing solution for the Bee Folks. As an added benefit, email is much cheaper to send than postal mailings.

“The cost of a stamp, the cost of printing, everything involved – that’s pricey compared to the cost of sending out an email through AWeber,” Lori says.

But just to make sure she was marketing the best way possible, Lori ran a direct mail campaign a few years ago.

She downloaded her subscriber list from AWeber, compared it to her CRM database and sent a snail mail campaign to those not on her email list. It cost around $500 to send postcards to those 2,000 or so Bee Folks customers.

The postcard contained a coupon code for 10% off purchases on the Bee Folks’ site, plus an invitation to join their email list to upgrade to a 30%-off coupon. Returns were minimal.

“I remember we got maybe five or six people signed up to our list from that mailing,” Lori reports, “and maybe two or three people using the code.”

Compare that to email: Lori watches her sales in her CRM and sees spikes after each email. She explains, “Every time I send something through the AWeber list, I can expect to generate a couple thousand dollars in sales.”

Why Use AWeber?

When Lori started email marketing, she was using a free email service. Her list grew, and eventually she was sending 600-800 emails at a time through her own server. She was worried that the volume would get the Bee Folks’ messages flagged as spam, so she switched her lists over to AWeber.

“Email services know if there are emails coming through AWeber to our customers, they’re good; we’ve already been whitelisted,” Lori says.

If It Makes Sense, Split Part of the Group Off

Lori keeps a separate list for local subscribers. She uses AWeber’s include and exclude features to make sure both lists get the correct emails with no duplicates. This way, she’s able to announce local Bee Folks events to those able to attend, without alienating those who live too far away.

She’s also given subscribers’ the chance to split themselves off.

During the 2011 Christmas season, Lori wanted to send enough offers to bring in a good amount of sales, but didn’t want subscribers to feel overwhelmed and unsubscribe. She invited her main list to join a Black Friday campaign to get far more frequent emails with special offers in each one.

About 10% of her main list joined the Black Friday list as well. And response was high. “Off of that 10%,” Lori says, “we generated between $16 and $20,000 and I did not have the attrition that I would have had if I sent those emails to the whole list.”

Send Content Your Audience Wants

When we asked Lori for advice for other small businesses trying to market, she said, “Test everything. Test your subject lines. Test your ad copy. Within AWeber, you can test up to four options at once. That can make a big difference.”

What Lori’s found through testing is that her audience responds best when she follows the 80-20 rule, with only 20% of her content made up of advertising.

“People don’t like feeling pressured,” she notes.

So what else can you send?

Well, fun content. Helpful content. For the Bee Folks, this means recipes, email marketing newsletters and updates on what’s happening in the honey industry.

How Do You Sweeten Your Campaign?

Do you use any of the same methods as Lori? Or do you have your own ways to nurture subscribers?

We love stories about great marketer-subscriber relationships, so share your thoughts!


  1. Nirav Desai

    3/22/2012 12:56 pm

    I use a double opt-in as well and about 80% of the people confirm. For those that do not confirm, I send a one-time personal email (outside of Aweber) letting them know that maybe the confirmation got caught in their spam and to retry. Of those remaining 20% that hadn’t confirmed, I’ve probably had about 70% of those sign up because of that extra notification.

  2. Mike

    3/22/2012 1:51 pm

    Nice tips, especially the one on separating local and nne local customers.

  3. Lee

    4/23/2012 10:49 am

    Really a question more than a comment. After the Christmas Season did she delete or suspend the Black Friday list Next fall will she send a special email to previous Black Friday subscribers to see if they want to get the 2012 specials?

  4. John MacMenamin

    8/20/2012 8:47 am

    Thanks for the great tips. Love the honey analogies!