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Take a moment to glance at your email inbox. How many unread messages do you have? How many emails have you received today? And yesterday? 

Data from Return Path shows that the typical email subscriber receives an average 413 emails per month. It’s easy to see why these subscribers pay closer attention to brands that bring rich and delightful email experiences to their inboxes. Everyone wants that feel of a one-to-one personalised communication as opposed to having offers SHOUTED at them. 

It’s sounds simple: send the right content to the right people at the right time. 

But how do you move away from ‘batch and blast’ style communications to one-to-one data driven email marketing on a broadcast scale? That is the topic for our 2nd article in the 'Battle for the Inbox' series. 

Divide and conquer

The way you collect customer data, organise it, and use it is vital to successfully achieving your goals. The trick here is to select the right targeting that will increase response to the greatest degree. Segmentation is so much more than merely looking at post codes or gender. You need to go past this type of basic segmentation and analyse your customers’ behaviour to act on what they’ll likely do next.

And the benefits to you:

  • Increased performance (ROI) 
  • Better email deliverability 
  • Lower unsubscribe rates
  • A loyal and engaged audience

Basic: Demographic profile data

This is where most will start, with segmentation based upon known characteristics. For a B2B company this could be size of company, industry or job titles and for B2C this may include age, gender, geography and date of birth.  

Example uses: Personalised emails, birthday emails, events in your area.

Although this data is readily available and quick to master, it’s by adding extra layers of complexity that will provide the biggest response uplift.

Advanced: Preferences and attitudes

This next layer of complexity can be broken down into disclosed preferences and inferred preferences. 

  1. Disclosed preferences is the information your subscribers have actively shared with you either when they subscribe or at a later point, perhaps via a preference centre. This data is an extremely powerful way of assessing your subscribers interests and stage in the buying cycle.
  2. Inferred preferences is the information you collect by observing customer behaviour. This could include links clicked on emails, products browsed on the website, search activity and time spent on pages or reading emails. Behavioural data is extremely important in understanding the relationship your customer and prospects have with your brand and can unlock some intriguing information. For example, inactivity is a type of behaviour which you can use to counter via a re-engagement campaign.

Pro: Lifecycle and value

The transactional data related to your customers lifecycle will mainly come from purchases but many different kinds of conversion can also generate useful data. For example, upgrading from a product demo or free trial. Mastering this form of targeting is an effective technique as a specific email strategy can be used for different stages in the lifecycle, as shown below:

Don’t delay, start targeting today

You may not be observing what your audience is up to on your website or you may not have a preference centre in place but you will have enough data points to start segmenting and targeting your email messages. The key here is that you simply make a start and add complexity as you move from basic to pro! 

The list is endless but why not start by trying some of these:

  • Demographics (age, gender, geography, date of birth)
  • Subscriber information (job title, job function)
  • Product / service pages browsed on website
  • Interests or preferences
  • Email client used to open email (mobile vs desktop)
  • Recency / frequency / value of purchases made
  • Subscriber activity (opens and clicks)

Whats Next?

This is the second in our 'Battle of the Inbox' series of email marketing best practices, designed to help you get the most out of your email marketing campaigns. If you missed our first post ‘How to Define Your Campaign Goals’ be sure to check it out today. We’ll soon be releasing our next post on creating an effective communication strategy - sign up for the blog newsletter so you don't miss out! 

In the meantime, you can download a copy of the 2016 State of Marketing research report to see how marketers around the globe are approaching the ever evolving mix of channels and tactics available to them - and yes - email is still a huge part of that!