The emails you do not send are more important than the ones you send.
If you email the wrong people, your deliverability will plummet. The people you want to reach, the contacts who want to hear from you and are ready to buy, will never even know you emailed them.
If your email isn’t engaging people, the algorithms assume it is unwanted so it’s filtered away from the inbox.
How do you please the algorithms?
The Dalai Lama said it best…
By sending messages only to the exact contacts who would want and expect it, your contacts become conditioned to open your emails.
But, it only takes a couple of irrelevant emails to ruin everything and then a contact might get in the habit of ignoring your emails. Every email you send after that is a nuisance. The next time the contact opens your email it will be to click the unsubscribe link.
It’s far better to not send anything than to send an email a contact doesn’t want. tweet this
Align your messages and contacts
It’s easy to think of our audience as a homogenous group, but this is a mistake.
The only thing that ties your contacts together is their interest in what your company does… and that isn’t much. What is relevant and important to one contact might not be to another:
- They came to you for different reasons.
- They are attracted to your offer for different reasons.
- They are interested in different products.
- They have different amounts of interest.
- They are at different stages of the buying process and customer journey.
Most of today’s email marketing services provide segmentation tools so there is no excuse not to divide your list along these exact lines. This will align your messages perfectly with your contacts so your deliverability will stay high and your list will be as responsive as possible.
Basically, this is the foundation of more effective email marketing. Without proper segmentation, your brilliant subject lines and call to actions don’t have a chance.
Segment by the reason they came to you
What motivated a contact to join your list?
Most people are very protective of their email addresses so something you offered was so important and interesting to them that they made themselves vulnerable to spam and asked to hear from you.
Many people will apply tags that indicate how someone opted in. For instance, “Downloaded free report on widget collecting.” I’d suggest taking that a step further so you make an inference about what that download means. For instance, “Interested in widget collecting,” so that you can segment your offers based on this very important “reason why” they opted in.
It might take a while to set up, but you could have different forms for different pages of your site so that you know exactly which piece of content someone was viewing when they decided to opt in which provides additional context.
Segment by the specific reasons they are attracted to your offer
If you are selling mattresses you might have people coming to you for wildly different reasons:
– they heard your mattresses were the best for back pain
– they are reputed to last longer than other mattresses
– your prices are better than the competition
– you use non-toxic, low VOC materials
This is extremely important to know, isn’t it?
The health-conscious environmentalist might not care about the price or back support but they need to know that the mattress is responsibly produced and safe for their health.
Someone with back pain might not care how toxic the mattress is, they need to know that it will provide them relief.
Someone else might just be looking for the cheapest mattress they can find.
I’d send wildly different email follow-up to each of these people.
I’m sure you can imagine that a very specific offer centered around the exact reasons for their interest in the bed would produce better results than a generic offer.
If you can’t infer this information from a contact’s behavior, you can add fields to your forms to collect this data. ActiveCampaign allows you to add drop downs, radio buttons, or checklists. You could send that data into custom fields or use it to apply tags.
Segment by product interest
Site Tracking is an amazing feature and one of the best marketing automation tools available to us as online marketers. It connects a contact’s behavior on your website to your email and marketing automation so your marketing can respond to their page views.
You can make some extremely solid assumptions based on page views. The links a contact chooses to view basically tell you where their interests lie.
One of my favorite automations applies tags to contacts when they visit a product page. Once that tag is there, you can easily segment by product interest which opens up all kinds of segmentation possibilities (and gives you some useful analytics).
When you are having a sale on a particular product, you can send to those contacts who have demonstrated interest in it. Or, when the tag is applied you can begin a specific [automated follow up sequence] that focuses on that particular product.
Segment by amount of interest
Lead scoring is a highly underrated marketing automation tool. With it you can identify contacts who are the best fit for your offers and gauge their interest. By using their score to create segments, you can treat contacts differently.
A contact who has a low engagement score but is a great fit for your product can be dropped into an automation designed specifically to nurture their interest and raise their engagement.
A contact with an extremely high engagement score can be dropped into an automation that provides a more aggressive follow-up sequence. You might be able to send to them more often, include more calls to action, and include more offers for one-on-one attention so you can shorten your normal sales cycle and strike while the iron is hot.
Segment by stage of the customer journey
There are a number of customer journey models but I like the 8 stages of the customer lifecycle:
It’s relatively easy to apply and remove tags as contacts move from one stage to another, but you might need to intentionally create identifiers for moving contacts between certain stages. It might take some creativity on your part:
You could keep someone in the “awareness” stage until they’ve clicked through to particular pages of your website.
You could move someone to “attraction” after they’ve requested multiple content assets.
You could move them to “advocacy” after they’ve forwarded an email or shared you on social media.
However you plan to set this up, it’s very useful for segmenting. There are messages you’d want to send to your “advocacy” contacts that would be inappropriate for someone in the “discovery” stage and vice versa.
Segmenting with ActiveCampaign
ActiveCampaign offers some of the best segmentation capabilities you’ll find in email marketing and marketing automation services.
You can create unlimited segments from over 60 conditions. Any data point that is attached to the contact record can be used to segment. These data points can be mixed and matched to create extremely granular segmentation.
You can segment on any value attached to a contact record to reach very specific groups of people…
You segment dynamically within automations. This means that you can use any logic within an automation to segment your contacts on the fly with no interaction on your part.
The benefits of careful list segmentation are numerous and well-documented.
It might take a little effort to collect the data you’ll need to properly segment your list, but once that is set up you’ll continuously reap rewards as your email deliverability improves, your list becomes more responsive, and you generate more revenue per contact.
This is the second part of a three-part series on how to target your marketing. Read Part 1: Advanced Personalization to learn how to customize your messages to match the needs and interests of your contacts.