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Now you know…

The key to email marketing, at least if you read blogs and talk to experts who blog about such things, is to segment your lists. But what does segmenting your lists really mean? Ken touches on it in a recent article about engagement and segmenting.

Segmenting your list means, quite simply, knowing your audience. It means tailoring your message to them, in order to extract as much money from them as possible. It means knowing which subscribers you can push with volume and which you will lose if you increase things too far.

In short, it means not treating all your subscribers the same, instead treating them slightly differently based on how they interact with your message.

To some people, this is too difficult. Ken even quoted someone in the industry as saying

segmenting takes a lot of effort. Think about it. Every segment requires another piece of creative.

I think the actual usefulness of segmenting is demonstrated by the holiday greeting that a major non-US ESP sent out. The holiday greeting was sent to anyone who had ever connected with their CEO on LinkedIn (among other addresses).

There was a clear spectrum of response from from folks who received the email. Some people thought it was the funniest thing they’d received and heaped joy and celebration on the company for such a great email. Other people thought that this was an annoying intrusion into their professional network. Still others were confused about multiple copies of the mail.

I have no idea if the negative reactions outweighed the positive, but there was no need for the negative to happen. If the sender had taken a few minutes and considered the reaction of the recipient, instead of simply uploading his entire address book into his email marketing software, he would have been able to avoid sending mail to people who didn’t want his particular brand of self promotion.

This is what segmenting is all about. Segmenting is taking a moment, or a few moments, to think about your recipients. Spending the time to do something more than batch-and-blast. Thinking about who you’re mailing and why you’re mailing them and what they might think of that. And, really, if your email states that someone at your company loves me enough to send email to me, then shouldn’t that person have considered my feelings about the mail before sending it?

Just harvesting an email address isn’t enough for a successful email marketing program. You have to know your audience as well. And knowing… well, you know.

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