Segmentation and testing is about offering relevance through personalisation: facts and tips


Unless you are able to interact with your customers in a highly individual way because your e-mail program is part of a customer-driven and cross-channel strategy, segmentation of audiences is a must for marketers that want to engage in relevant e-mail interactions.

Yet segmentation continues to be one of the most under-used tools we have. No matter how many reports or blog posts come out urging people to segment, to many it appears to have as much appeal as raking leaves.

According to a report by Econsultancy subject lines are the most frequently tested aspect in e-mail marketing campaigns (50 percent of respondents). This is followed by creative (39%), timing (35%), next only segmentation and targeting (33%) and finally frequency of contact (31%), which is quite a surprise as well.

Relevance as a driver of conversions and ROI

In the case of both clients and agencies, segmentation is used primarily for customer analysis and e-mail personalisation. Personalisation can be as simple as using someone's name in an e-mail marketing message. Where as, segmenting for relevance influences everything from personalisation to the content you send. In order to put the power of segmentation to work, you must be prepared to split test.

Segmenting to marketers is about increasing ROI and conversion. To subscribers and customers, however, it is about relevance which drives conversion rates and ROI. That's the payoff for subscribers: better and thus more pertinent and valuable content.

They don't care if you test, but they do care if your content is relevant to them and testing helps you achieve just that. Marketers may like to make a number of distinctions, but subscribers just know when something is relevant, it resonates with them and initiates further action. It engages them.

A/B and MVT testing to improve efficiency and relevance

Testing and segmenting on the basics is a good start, but are you using the data you have on customer demographics and even incoming cross-channel data to take it one step further? And are you going deep enough with your A/B or MVT testing?

According to the report: A/B testing is the method which is most likely to be on the agenda, with 46% of company respondents saying that they are planning to do this. Only 32% of company respondents said that they were currently doing it even though 53% said it was "highly valuable" and a further 42% said they believed it was "quite valuable".

It's disappointing, but true that only a third of companies are investing any resources into A/B split testing for their e-mail marketing. The report shows clearly that, while organizations recognize the power of split testing, they are not doing it enough.

A test requires a plan and a plan can be implemented over the course of a campaign. The testing you do for this campaign should provide you with valuable data to make your next campaign that much more relevant and effective for conversions. Start at a high level then drill down for more specific data.

Your testing plan should include the basic elements the report mentions, but it can also test other elements which may be more specific to your target market. Limit each A/B split test to only one or two elements so you can easily understand what altered the results and exploit the opportunities presented.

And if you can have an integrated cross-channel approach on e-mail marketing, test all other channels and interactions to be efficient in each and every contact moment, regardless of the medium.

As always, it boils down to relevance and thus your customers…

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