A solid email marketing segmentation strategy is not a luxury in times where contacts demand personalized and relevant content and offers. Several segmentation techniques exist in email marketing and are being used to respond to changed consumers' expectations and an increased sensibility to marketing noise. In the traditional view on email from the campaign perspective, marketers often segment based on the email interactions themselves.
However, in a customer-centric approach, interactions with messages and touch points across multiple channels can be used to increase conversion of life cycle based and triggered emails.
And the more personal, integrated, multichannel and real-time you can get, the better conversions and customer insights.
Segmentation is almost expected by many consumers. They are proud of their individuality and want to be regarded as such by marketers. Consumers want content that is both personalized and relevant, and they are in turn irritated by email that does not address their preferences or personalities. To this extent, marketing professionals should consider, at a minimum, the following segmentation types in email marketing itself:
Advanced segmentation techniques
Today's savvy consumers deserve even further segmentation, based upon parameters such as:
- Personal interests and hobbies.
- RFM, a well-known method for analyzing customer behavior and defining market segments, often used in retail and standing for Recency (how recently someone purchased), Frequency (how often someone purchases) and Monetary value (how much someone spends).
- Customer engagement, attitude and satisfaction.
- Propensity models, statistical scorecards used to predict behavior of customers (probability of responding to offers, retention actions or cross-sell offers, likeliness to churn, etc.)
To optimize conversion, using many but most of all, the right, segmentation techniques is key. Detailed marketing increases relevancy, thereby improving all-around results.
The data that the segmenting is based on should be gathered for the purpose of enhancing the customer experience. Segmentation data gathering is a crucial process for building up valuable customer intelligence, which in turn can be used to improve email communications.
Online subscription or sign-up forms are the most basic means of gathering segmentation data. The amount of personal information requested initially should not exceed what will be immediately used for a marketing campaign. Transaction data can also yield valuable customer intelligence and RFM segmentation data by looking at recent events.
Surveys are also good methods to obtain segmentation data like preferences, interests and hobbies. Once a customer or a prospect reveals his or her interests, future emails should reflect such interests accordingly. The subject lines of marketing email messages can be made more specific, and the content offered can be made more relevant.
Besides conversion optimization purposes, gathering customer intelligence can also serve as a platform to build retention and reactivation campaigns.
Moving beyond segmentation: customer intelligence and behavioral profiling for personalization
On top of the mentioned techniques, a customer-centric segmentation strategy should also look at multichannel behavior and customer intelligence. Furthermore, the mentioned tactics should not only be used for email marketing campaigns in the traditional sense but serve as triggers for event-driven multi-step activities.
To achieve multichannel segmentation, with a strong focus on behavior profiling, a bi-directional integration with CRM applications and a cross-channel marketing approach that is based on the needs and digital footprints of consumers, is inevitable. On top of that, it requires strong analytics and reporting systems, as well as the possibility to trigger emails, based on interactions via other media (e.g. triggering an email, based on website behavior or social activities).
There are many ways to transgress channel-specific segmentation criteria to improve conversions.
- Segmenting email recipients, based on brand advocacy or social influence parameters.
- Segmentation based on interaction with behavioral targeted website content and ads.
- Segmentation based on dynamically gathered social feedback or mentions.
- Segmentation based on pre-defined changes in CRM contact records.
As more and more channels get integrated and advanced analytics and reporting tools enable filtering recipients based upon multi-level segmentation criteria, all channels and online properties become conversion engines through very personalized interactions, that are built upon 360° customer intelligence and strive towards one-to-one marketing.
The technologies exist, the rest is common sense.
Today's customer is cross-channel and he/she is at the centre of sales and marketing.
Communication channels depend on the consumer and marketing is about engaging the cross-channel customer and prospect throughout integrated dialogues that are driven by his/her buying journey, preferences, triggers, signals and behaviour.
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