Email remains a very effective form of marketing. It’s simple to use and can deliver a great return. Yet not all who use this tool get the same results. If you’re not seeing the results you want, you are likely missing a very important email marketing best practice. The key to using email to its full potential is developing a targeted email marketing approach vs. a blast approach.
Let’s uncover just what targeted email marketing is and how you can harness the power of this tool.
The basics of targeted email marketing
What is targeted email and how does it differ from other forms of email?
By definition, targeted email marketing is sending customized email messages to specific audiences that are personalized based on the recipient’s needs, wants and/or behaviors.
As a comparison, a non-targeted approach would be sending the same email message to all members of your contact lists.
The last time we checked, not all people are the same. That means your buyers are all different too. However, they will have things in common that you can use to segment your send lists.
This may sound complicated, but it doesn’t need to be. Even the most basic of CRM platforms allow you to sort your customer lists in a variety of ways. Targeted email marketing is crafting your email content based on how you segment your audience.
There are a number of ways to segment as well.
- Geographic (location)
- Demographic (age, gender, income, education, occupation)
- Psychographic (interests)
- Behavior (buying habits, date of last purchase)
Segmenting your audience could be as simple as sending a targeted email message to customers who have made a purchase in the last 6 months. However, you can also get very specific with a send list to homeowners in New York City, who have downloaded a specific guide on your website but have not made a purchase yet.
Harnessing the power of targeted email marketing
How can targeted email marketing work for you?
There are 5 essentials of targeted email marketing that are the secret to more opens and click-throughs.
1. Develop a strong database of contacts
First and foremost, make sure your contact lists are just that – yours. This may seem harsh, but NEVER BUY LISTS! Part of what makes targeted email marketing effective is that you have already made some connection with your audience. Whether as a customer or a lead from your website, the person you are emailing has made some connection with you and therefore is already open to receiving more information from you.
An inbound marketing strategy makes this part seamless. When a visitor to your website finds a piece of content of interest to them (like a guide or e-book) or decides to participate in a webinar you are hosting, they will exchange their contact information for the content you are offering.
Based on the information you collect during this exchange, you can segment your audience into like groups that will help you develop those targeted email pieces.
The other important piece that inbound marketing does is to help keep your contact lists fresh. If your contact lists are out of date segmenting will be more challenging. People change careers, move to different states, sell property, become more/less interested in your product or service etc. etc. Regular communication with your contacts, along with an interactive CRM system, allows for opportunities to update their information.
2. Personalize your emails
Generic emails are ineffective for engaging a lead you want to become a customer. They are also ineffective for transitioning existing customers into brand promoters. The most important aspect of targeted email marketing is personalizing your emails to your audience.
What does personalization look like?
At its most basic level, personalization means sending targeted emails to a person by name instead of “Dear Customer”, and having them come from a real person (Emily) instead of the Marketing Department at your company. Even with all the digital commerce today, people still like to engage with real people.
However, personalization can do so much more and this is where segmenting your lists comes into play. “The ability to segment email lists and individualize email campaign messaging are the most effective personalization tactics for 51% and 50% of marketing influencers respectively.” (Ascend2, 2016)
There are endless ways to segment your contacts and send messages that will resonate with each group. This starts with asking the right questions. For example:
- What kind of content is someone downloading?
- Have they downloaded content before?
- Are they a new lead or a returning customer?
- What industry are they in?
- What is their job title?
- Is there a time frame or urgency to their search for information?
- Where are they located?
3. Send a message that has real value
Equally important in a targeted email marketing strategy is the email itself. Don’t just send an email for the sake of checking off a to-do item. Make it meaningful and have value to the receiver. After all the goal is to have your contacts open the email message and react positively to it.
This starts with a subject line that invites your recipient in. Here are few tips. Make your subject line:
- Clear. The reader should immediately know the purpose of your email.
- Attention worthy. In a sea of daily emails hitting our inboxes, will your message grab someone’s attention so they want to read what you have to say?
- Actionable. What do you want the reader to do? Learn something? Respond to a question?
- Personalized. A specific name might not always fit here, but think about the segment group you are engaging with.
These same tips should apply to the body of your email as well. Obviously, the more you know about your intended audience, the more value you can add to your emails. This is why we talk about Buyer Personas so much at Hello Marketing. It is the foundation for all of your marketing efforts and has a direct impact on your bottom line.
4. Craft your content with intent
In order for your emails to have value, you need to think about your intent in sending the message. Afterall, you are using targeted email marketing for a reason. What is your purpose for emailing your contacts?
Keep these points in mind when crafting the body of your emails.
- Establish the connection. Make it clear right away why you are sending the email and what your connection to them is.
- Focus on them. Avoid overuse of “I”, “me”, “us” language and include plenty of “you” and “yours.” This email is to help them in some way so make sure it really is all about them.
- Explain the benefits of what you are offering. Instead of a huge sales pitch with all the features of your product/service, tell them why what you are offering or the action you want them to take matters to them. Don’t be too quick to sell.
- Delight your reader. Your overall purpose in using targeted emails is to engage with your audience in a personal way, so let them get to know you better. Be open with your purpose, honest if you’ve made a mistake, and genuine in your desire to serve them as a customer.
- Make it actionable. Don’t forget to include a call to action. What do you want them to do next with this information you have just shared? As always, make sure it is clear and easy to follow.
5. Test, test and test again
After you have sent your emails, what were the results? Some email messages will naturally have better open and click-through rates than others, but what caused those differences? Targeted email marketing is a continual adaptive process based on fact. As you learn more, you can adapt ways to segment your audience that will allow you to further customize your messaging.
Running A/B tests are a great way to see what works best for your audiences and marketing goals. Remember to test variables (subject lines, layout style, CTA placement) one at a time so you can identify what drove the results to make any needed improvements.
Implementing targeted email marketing for your business
Where can you implement targeted email marketing in your business? The answer should be clear. Anytime you are engaging with a prospect or customer, you email message should be customized to the recipient’s needs, wants and/or behaviors.
There are many targeted email marketing services that can help but they aren’t all the same. Make sure you work with someone who will take the time to get to know your particular buyers and their needs so that your messaging is clear and specific.