Segmentation - Using Interactivity

I was recently asked how segmentation can be used to affect an email campaign. I was actually really surprised by the question because I couldn’t believe I hadn’t written anything on such an incredibly important email topic. I had so much to say about it I wasn’t even really sure where to start. Lucky for you I’ve gotten a little bit organized since then.

There are 4 major categories of interaction behaviors, each with several message types in them. 1) Date Based, 2) Click Behavior in Emails, 2) Website Interactions Post Click, and 4) Purchases. Most relaters will agree that they see the purpose of using one, if not all, of these categories and that they believe they increase the effectiveness of the campaign.

1)Date Based

Welcome Messages: A welcome message is received after the subscriber opts in to your list. A good welcome message will thank them for signing up and lay out exactly what they can expect from your emails, such as content and frequency. Setting expectations is the first step in protecting your list from unsubscribes.

Follow Up’s: A follow up message is perfect for companies who offer a trial or demo version of their products. When the free period is over they can send a personalized message with a compelling offer to become a paid user of the product.

Check In’s: A check in message often contains a survey or preference management update request. Often times if someone has been on your list for a certain period of time you may want to get additional information from them to ensure they remain on your list.

Events: The most common event based messages acknowledged an Anniversary or Birthdate. If someone has been on your email list for a year it is appropriate to thank them, potentially with a special offer. If you were proactive in gathering birthdate data you can also wish them a Happy Birthday and provide them an offer or incentive to celebrate with. These types of mailings will provide you a higher open rate and fight off unsubscribes.

2)Click Behavior in Emails

Segmentation: If you are a retailer that offers a standard set of products, such as different types of office furniture, you will want to consistently provide links to individual sections in your email. If you constantly provide links to your 5 most popular categories your Email Service Provider (ESP) will keep track of every user that clicks on a particular link. Let 's say one of those categories is "Desks". After some time of gathering data you will have a list of people who are assumed to be interested in desks. You are then able to send an email featuring multiple types of desks or a desk that is on a deep discount and get a much response rate because it is more targeted.

Triggered Sends: A triggered send is another message, or a variation of the original message, based on the behavior with the email. The most commonly known triggered send would be a resend to unopens. If you have a regular newsletter that goes out monthly, you would set up another send of the newsletter with urgent subject line, reminding the people who had not yet opened the message that the newsletter had arrived. If there was a special offer in the email you would want to consider putting in the number of days left to take advantage of the offer. If not you can always highlight a different feature of the newsletter to appeal to the readers who may not have found the first one interesting.

List Hygiene: One of the biggest wastes of money in email campaigns is sending to people who have no interest in receiving your messages. Email addresses can be out dated or abandoned, you could be sending directly into the subscriber’s junk mail, or some messages never even make it past the email reader’s filters. By using interaction behaviors for list hygiene you can get those CPM wasters off your list and increase the effectiveness of your campaign. List hygiene it’s self is a very broad topic and will be expanded on in its own article.

3)Website Interactions Post Click

Items Viewed: Once a user as clicked on a link in your email and landed on your website, you can track each move they make from there. The best way to use this data is to send follow up messages about items they may have viewed on your site. You can offer them a simple reminder that those items are available, offer them a small discount or gift for buying that particular item, or make similar recommendations. These have a very high conversion rate because people are already interested in the item.

Cart Abandonment: Cart abandonment works quite he same as following up with items viewed, only you often have more information because the person will even sign into an existing account and save the cart. You can follow up the same way as if they had simply viewed the item, but can be assured they have an even higher level of interest because they got further along in the buying cycle.

4)Purchases

Follow Up: Once someone has made a purchase after clicking on one of your messages you have many uses for the information. You can simply follow up to thank them for their purchase, offer them a discount on their next purchase, or request they review the item the bought from you. All of the tactics will result in more engagement from them or other users.

Recommendations: If the purchase they bought has accessories available you may be able to use recommendations for cross selling them. Amazon.com does a great job of this with their electronics. If you buy a laptop you will get a recommendations for cases or chargers, or maybe with an mp3 player you will be cross sold head phones or workout holders for it. Now that you have the data you can sell even more and make them repeat buyers.

Replacements: If you sell a product that wears out, such as shoes, you have the chance to resell the same item to the same person. Some retail shoe sites will follow up after one year of a purchase and advise that they are still in stock. If they are about to run out of an item they will email everyone who has purchased one before and let them know how many are left, creating an urgency to get a duplicate of their favorite item before it’s too late.

Overstock: Now that you know what your reader likes you can send them targeted emails for similar items that you need to get rid of. If you know they always buy a certain type of ink cartridge, and you have an abundance of a compatible cartridge for their printer, you can offer them a discount or bulk offer to buy that one instead. This uses their information to keep your inventory shelves rotating.

There are so many potential uses for segmentation in email that have a huge impact. If you’d like some more information on increased open and conversion statistics check out the following email studies and blogs:

Trigger Emails: http://www.retailemailblog.com/2009/02/takeaways-from-email-evolution.html
Welcome Messages: http://blog.bronto.com/2010/07/19/countdown-to-conversions-a-welcome-series-that-works/
Anniversary Emails: http://www.silverpop.com/marketing-resources/case-studies/case-study-pdf-versions/Engage%20CS_Fabric.pdf
Birthday Emails: http://www.experian.com/marketing-services/register-2010-birthday-report.html
Cart Abandonment: http://www.cheetahmail.com/corp/resource/wp/remarketing_wp.html and http://www.bluehornet.com/case-studies/full/rockler
Purchase Data: http://blog.emailexperience.org/blog/email-experience-council/0/0/powerful-purchase-data-that-can-reel-in-revenue-v4

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