Email List Segmentation

Have you ever started putting together an email campaign, but stopped because you realized that it wouldn’t be relevant to everyone on your list? Maybe you are having a local event and your subscribers on the other side or the country or world wouldn’t be interested. Maybe you want to send a reminder about a promotion to convert new customers, but don’t want it to land in a current customer’s inbox. It may be time to consider email list segmentation.

Segmentation is the act of dividing your email list into different groups based on characteristics such as demographics or interests. Segmentation allows you to send more relevant and personalized content to each segment which in turn increases responses. The good news is that most email service providers allow you to segment your list, so not additional software or tools are necessary.

There are many benefits to using list segmentation including:

Decrease your unsubscribes. Many people unsubscribe because they don’t feel like the information you are sending is relevant to them. By creating segments, the relevancy increases for each subscriber segment.

Increase open rates. With segments, you can tailor the subject line making it more attractive to the email subscriber to open because, again, it is personalized for their interest.

Increase click-through rates. The more relevant the content, the more likely the reader is to open and interact with the email including click on the links in your message. Segmentation has been shown to increase the click-through rates for email marketers.

Increase conversions. Using segments, you should have a more targeted and motivated reader. This makes the conversion to purchase or act much higher than sending the same offer to everyone on a general list.

Getting started in segmentation can feel overwhelming because there are so many options for slicing and dicing your list. The key is to start small and expand from there. You may want to start as simple as breaking your list into customer and non-customer. Just think of all the different types of emails and promotions you can create based on this simple segmentation.

Now is the time to consider how segmentation can help your get more out of your email list.

Retargeting vs. Email Remarketing

Retargeting and remarketing are very similar words and have similar purposes, but are executed in different ways. I am willing to bet you have seen both in action as a consumer. Let me explain.

Let’s say one day you are doing some searches on Amazon.com for a new camera. You look at several cameras, but you are not ready to make a purchase so you leave the site and go about your business. The next day you log into Facebook and you see ads in your timeline from Amazon and the included picture and product information is the exact camera you looked at yesterday. Coincidence? Nope. That is retargeting in action.

When you were on Amazon’s site, they placed a cookie in your browser which communicated with Facebook to serve you that ad. Facebook isn’t the only place you will see these retargeting ads. They are pretty commonplace on a lot of sites. As a consumer, I still find these ads to be a bit like Minority Report, but as a marketer it is a powerful tool to remind people of what they were looking at and entice them to return and make the purchase.

Remarketing has to do with email and abandoned shopping carts. Shopping cart abandonment is a huge problem for e-commerce websites of all sizes. A person puts products in their cart, fills out their information and then for some reason leaves the site with products sill in their shopping cart. Maybe they were interrupted by something or changed their mind due to shipping costs. Using email remarketing, the merchant is able to follow-up with an email to see if they had problems during the buying process. They can even follow-up days later to offer a discount that may entice the buyer to go back and complete the order.

Email remarketing is another great example of marketing automation at work. Many marketing automation tools allow you to program this into your e-commerce site, set up the emails you want to send and set the time between emails. Companies often see an increase in revenue due to adding email remarketing into their mix.

If you are one on my email subscribers, you will get another way you can use email remarketing on Sunday. Not a subscriber? Sign-up using the form below.

Dipping Your Toe into Marketing Automation for Small Business

According to Wikipedia, Marketing automation refers to software platforms and technologies designed for marketing departments and organizations to more effectively market on multiple channels online (such as email, social media, websites, etc.) and automate repetitive tasks.

If you begin to do some research into what marketing automation is, you can quickly get overwhelmed. There are so many tools you can use and there are even more features and processes to try and manage. The term automation can be pretty deceiving when it comes to marketing automation. Yes, it does automate some tasks, but the strategy and tactics needed to get to that phase is anything buy automated. This is why it can be so overwhelming especially to small businesses with limited time.

Just to introduce you a bit to marketing automation, here are a list of features that are often included in marketing automation software solutions:

Central database
– Prediction and scoring
– CRM integration
– Lead management

Engagement tools
– Landing pages
– Campaign management
– Content marketing
– Email marketing
– Social marketing

Analytics
– Marketing analytics

As you can see from this list, it can get overwhelming, very quickly. When I sat down to write this I really thought I was going to be able to put together a thorough overview of marketing automation, but it quickly became obvious that wasn’t going to happen. There are so many moving parts and for a lot of small businesses it is just too much to tackle at once. One of the most effective areas for small business to introduce marketing automation is to their email marketing. Some of the tools you are using for email marketing already have basic automation tools. For this reason, during June I’m going to introduce a few concepts to you.

How is Technology Impacting Sales?

I started my business over 17 years ago when the majority of Internet users were still on dial-up, websites were coded by hand and we walked uphill both ways to school in the snow. Ok, so maybe that last one isn’t true, but technology has become easier to use and less expensive to implement than ever. Technology that was only available to large Fortune 500 companies is now available to smaller businesses with much smaller budgets. Technology has leveled the field with regards to sales in many ways, but for now I would like to focus on better tracking and engagement.

It is now easier to track a prospect through your sales cycle with tools like Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and marketing automation. As a prospect enters your website for the first time, you are able to track their behaviors even if you don’t know exactly who they are yet. Once they interact with you via your website by filling out a form, you are able to continue to collect what pages they visit, how often and what they download. Through your CRM, you can share this information with your sales team so that they are better prepared when it is time to contact the prospect. This brings us to engagement and personalization.

Now that you know what the prospect or customer is most interested in, you can engage them with the correct information either through direct contact or email. The email can be a one-time message or a series of messages “dripped” to the prospect through your marketing automation software. This technology helps you deliver the correct messaging, at the correct time, and at the correct touchpoint. This provides a better experience for the user and allows your sales team to be more involved in the process of converting the prospect to a customer.

I’m going to dive into marketing automation a bit more in June, so I hope you join me.

Using MailChimp Subscribe to Collect Emails “On the Go”

MC_SubscribeWe all know to collect email addresses on our websites, but if we interact with our target audience other places such as your store, a craft fair, tradeshow or speaking event it can be a little more difficult. The standard solution has been paper and pen. Once you collect those addresses on paper, someone has to then type all those contacts into your email software. This takes a lot of time and can be difficult to do if you have trouble reading people’s handwriting.

Let me introduce you to one of my favorite tools, MailChimp Subscribe. Subscribe is an app that runs on your iOS or Android device and allows you to create email subscription forms. Interested subscribers can fill out the form on your device by typing in their information which will subscribe them to your desired list. If you are on the Internet, the new subscriber will instantly be added to your list, if there is no WiFi, they will be added once your device is again connected to the Internet. This app saves you so much time and helps your accuracy from the old way of doing things with paper and pen.

I have used this app at craft shows while selling our soaps. We tied a chance to win something if they signed up for our newsletter and because it was so easy, we had several people subscribe. At speaking events, I also use MailChimp Subscribe on my iPad to allow interested people to easily sign up after my presentation. I haven’t done it yet, but I intend to put the app on my phone, so when I am at networking events and discussing my business, I can invite them to subscribe right then and there.

In addition to it being time-saving and more accurate, the app, itself, can become a great conversation starter because many people have not seen anything like it before. The app is easy to use and you can brand your sign-up form with your logo and coloring helping you stay consistent with your messaging. If you are a MailChimp user, be sure to download this free app and give it a try.

When is the Best Time to Send my Email Newsletter?

There are a lot of reports on the Internet that will tell you the best time to send you email newsletter, but I want to caution you before you blindly follow those reports. Why? Because everyone else that read that report will be sending their emails at that time, plus you don’t know that it is the best time for your target audience. I don’t know about you, but when I get a lot of promotional emails or email newsletters all at once, I feel overwhelmed and delete them without reading. I’m sure the research works for companies, but my goal with my email newsletter is to not go with the flow.

My email newsletter gets delivered every Sunday evening at 7:00 pm, and I selected that timing for a specific reason. I wanted my email newsletter to arrive at the beginning of the week when people are making plans for the week, feeling motivated, and are up for trying new things. Most of my readers are business owners or head up one-person marketing departments, so they are often checking their inboxes on Sunday evening in order to prep for a new week. My goal is give them some information that will make their week a little easier or offer some inspiration. Is it the perfect time? I don’t know, but it is working for me. Get to know your audience and see what may make sense for you. Try different times and days, track your open rates, and see what is working the best. Once you find that day and time stay consistent so your audience knows when to expect your email.

Keep an eye out for trends affecting your target audience. A report came out last week talking about how online spending increases Friday nights after a person have had a few drinks. If this is your target audience, consider sending out a promo on Friday evening to get them spending those dollars at your store.

Don’t just follow the flow because of someone’s reports. Spend some time getting to know your target audience and what makes the most sense for you and them.

My 5 Tips to Email Marketing During the Holidays

As a consumer, I have a Love/Hate relationship with email marketing this time of year. I admit it, I love a good deal and many of my favorite retailers promote some pretty good offers. I also like hearing from smaller, independent retailers and makers that do the bulk of their business at the holidays.The amount of emails I receive does get a bit overwhelming, so I do take the opportunity to unsubscribe from a lot of companies I no longer care to hear from or send too many emails.

There is an insurance company in my town that sends an email at every holiday throughout the year. That is the only time I ever hear from them. Mind you, I am not their client, and I never signed up to receive emails from them. Why don’t I unsubscribe? Simply because I am a marketer and I want to see if they ever change their behavior. So far, they haven’t. Their emails have no call to action or any useful information. Just a simple Happy <insert holiday name here>. You could make an argument for branding, but I bet they have a fairly high unsubscribe rate with each email and probably have turned many people off due to adding people to their list with no permission.

Why bring this up? Because I want you to be smarter with your email marketing and I’m going to give you 5 tips as we head into prime email marketing time.

1. Remember that your email list subscribers are your most important group. Don’t overload or annoy them. Treat them special and give them something you don’t give to anyone else. This may be a special promotion, an exclusive offer or useful information that you don’t share any where else. Your readers have given you permission into their busy inbox. Respect that relationship and make it worth it for both parties.

2. Keep mobile in mind. People are on the go all the time and even more so during the holidays, so they are checking email from their tablets and phones. Keep this in mind when you are designing your email. Use a responsive design template which will make your email look good no matter what device it is read from. Limit the number of images you include in your email since some people will be using their data service which is often slower than WiFi. Some people prefer not to download images included in emails, so you want to make sure that your images complement your message and are not central to the message. This way you don’t require people to download the images to see the promotion or information.

3. Collect emails onsite. If you are a maker or artisan participating in shows or open houses this holiday season consider collecting emails at those events. I have done this in the past at shows and found it to be successful. I used the app MC Subscribe from Mail Chimp on my iPad to collect email addresses from people that purchased our soaps or stopped by our table. The beauty of the app is that you don’t have to worry about deciphering handwriting and saves you time of entering them in by hand. No problem if the location doesn’t have WiFi, the app will collect the addresses and synch with your MailChimp account once you are connected to WiFi.

4. Timing. If you are going to do a series of emails throughout the holidays, it is a good idea to get out your calendar. If you are a product company and have deadlines for shipping or delivery, you need to make sure your emails are communicating that and giving your readers enough time to act upon that information. Look at your calendar and write in your deadlines. Now back out the dates to give your readers time to act. This will also allow you to write those promotions ahead of time and schedule them with your email marketing tool. You are going to get busy, so the more you can plan ahead and schedule tasks, the better.

5. Reintroduce yourself. If you are a service company that has not been consistent with sending emails, now is the time to restart your email marketing effort. Take this time to reintroduce yourself and tell your subscribers what they can expect from you in the future. Give people permission to unsubscribe. I just did this and did have some unsubscribe. You know what. It didn’t bother me because I want people on my list that want to be there and interact with me.  Conversations and conversions mean much more to me that how big my list is.

My advice is to take 20 minutes this week and create a quick plan of how you want to either reintroduce yourself to your subscribers or how you are going to promote your product/service this holiday season including dates and content ideas. That 20 minutes will go a long way to making the most of your email marketing relationships.