Understanding your data and the best ways to use it in email marketing campaigns

“It’s hard to target a message to a generic 35-year-old middle-class working mother of two."

"It’s much easier to target a message to Jennifer, who has two children under four, works as a paralegal, and is always looking for quick but healthy dinners and ways to spend more time with her kids and less time on housework.” 

These words, from Elizabeth Gardner, might be looking at one specific example but it’s advice all businesses should take on board. Understanding your database is essential and the first step required is to obtain relevant data.

‘Knowledge is power’ is a phrase that is often used. It’s one I disagree with.

Obtaining knowledge, data in this case, is a necessary first step but the true power comes through application and execution. Knowing the interests of your database is one thing but in so many instances this data sits idle and unused. It’s wasted potential. 

It doesn’t matter if your mailing list includes 20 recipients or 2 million, believing your entire database will respond to the same message in the same way is a dangerous assumption - and you make at your own peril. Two people in your database might enjoy the service your business provides but who is to say that the similarities continue from there?

Sending the right message to the right people

As an example, picture a hotel which contains a golf club. Does it make sense to send a golfing update to your entire database? Needless to say there will be countless people who signed up to hear from the hotel who have no interest in golf and vice-versa. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that engagement is low when the message is irrelevant for a large percentage of the database. 

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to segmentation and targeting. Those two groups can be divided further to ensure the messaging is even more refined. A golfing update might be valuable for all golf members but what about an upcoming weekend offer? You might instinctively think that all members will be interested but what if you have details on booking times? If someone has been on your database for five years, has played 200 times since then and has not once played on a weekend, it’s not likely to be a relevant message for them. 

The more cynical could put this ‘responsibility for relevance’ back on the recipient saying:

  • It doesn’t matter if one in four messages are irrelevant as this can easily be filtered out. 
  • You can tell by the subject line whether it will appeal or not. Recipients can work it out.

This attitude isn’t going to cut it in today’s world. People are too busy, and will lose patience, with businesses who are not giving them consistently relevant information. Email is becoming increasingly congested and the fight to be in a recipient’s inbox remains as tough as ever. Irrelevant messaging, even if it only happens 25% of the time, will cause recipients to lose interest. 

Everyone is different, treat them as such

Each email does not exist in a vacuum. A recipient’s opinion towards a particular business or brand does not reset each time. An untargeted email can have an undesired knock-on effect where even if the email is tailored to the recipient’s interests, they might well ignore the message knowing that the last one was of no use to them. 

Theoretically, segmentation can continue being applied until you are dealing in very minute details. There comes a point where diminishing returns become a factor, i.e. segmenting any further will not improve the message enough to validate the additional time/cost spent to get there. Striking this balance is important and will be different depending on the business but we find that too little segmenting is a much more prevalent issue than too much. 

The ways in which we are able to grasp and harness data is continuously improving. Those who make a sustained effort towards obtaining and utilising data will gain a competitive advantage through how they speak to the consumer and those who carry on with a ‘send to all’ strategy are likely to be left behind. People differ in so many ways, treat them as such.


If you’d like to find more about how to use your data to ensure you send the right message, at the right time, to the right people, then we’d love to help - you can get in touch with us here.

Ben Hocking
Ben Hocking

Ben Hocking is one of our Email Marketing Campaign Coordinators and, with a background in business management, brings both diligence and expertise to our clients.

Ben Hocking
Ben Hocking

Ben Hocking is one of our Email Marketing Campaign Coordinators and, with a background in business management, brings both diligence and expertise to our clients.

Published:
July 15, 2020
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