Segementation = success?
From my experience working in the online industry, email marketing has usually been a large part of the businesses’ marketing regime. I’ve heard plenty of experts say that customer segmentation is the key to successful email campaigns, but I’m wondering if that’s always the case.
If we’re talking about huge, money-making companies, they’re likely to have the budget, customer base and employees to carry out a really effective email marketing campaign. Even my last employer, who was not ‘huge’ by any means, made the effort to have a small but dedicated email marketing team that produced professional looking, relevant and un-spammy emails.
While I was in that role, work started on segmenting the customer base. And it was done the right way – they asked customers to fill out a preference form, incentivised the process and made it as easy as possible for them. Initial response was fairly low (compared to the numbers of overall customers), but once the targeted email campaigns started, the results were extremely positive. However – by segmenting the customer base, each segment had to be catered for separately, by providing a different email for each segment that had been created (4 in total).
This was a lot of extra work for all involved. But as we were learning, it was potentially well worth the rewards. However – would the same tactics work for a smaller company? In my example, there is only one person running the email marketing strategy. Due to previous segmentation work – there are 6 existing segments, and customers can be a member of any number of them simultaneously.
But the one lone marketer can’t possibly produce 6 marketing emails per week. And some segments are decidedly more popular than others. So, what does he/she do?
The way I see it – each customer will have a completely different and unpredictable experience. One customer might get 3 emails for 3 weeks in a row, and then hear nothing for 2 months. Once customer might hear nothing for 6 weeks after they sign up, and when they finally receive their first email 6 weeks letter, condemn it to spam as they have forgotten who the sender is. This sort of erratic behaviour can be confusing for the customer and potentially damaging for the brand.
This situation strikes me as being untenable and in this case, unfixable. At least, not without a lot more resources at hand.
I think the moral of my story is, while the (fairly limited) advice to email marketeers on the web is all about segmentation and personalisation of emails, (which I absolutely agree where this is possible), surely it’s more damaging to segment a customer base if you can’t provide them with a regular, predictable and useful newsletter?
Filed under: Content & usability | 5 Comments
Tags: customer segmentation, email, email marketing