The top 7 dos and don’ts of targeted email advertising

When you send an email at the right time, with the right message, and to the right person, it stands out from the rest. A targeted email evokes intrigue and individuality, going so much further than the generic mass email that recipients can smell from a mile away.
This, in turn, generates more ROI.

But don’t just take our word for it—see the results for yourself. 

According to marketing guru Neil Patel, targeted emails have the potential to boost your open rates by over 200%. And eMarketer recently revealed that of those email marketers using segmentation, 39% saw better open rates, 28% noted lower unsubscribe rates, and 24% found higher revenue, sale leads, and deliverability.

So what does targeted email advertising entail and how can you put it to good use in your company? 

Let’s find out. 

Targeted email advertising: What is it and why does it matter?

A huge mistake a lot of businesses make is to send everyone on their mailing list the same email, every time.

Is everyone on this mailing list as engaged, of the same demographic, and interested in the exact same thing?

No, of course not. 

That’s why emails need to be as relevant as possible for each individual recipient, whether this is because they’re more interested in a particular category or they’re more/less engaged with your brand.

Even though it’d be very difficult to tailor an email for every single recipient, you can craft emails that are based on certain criteria. You do this by segmenting your list, sorting out your recipients into separate categories that will ensure they receive relevant information and feel engaged with your brand.

The top 7 dos and don’ts of targeted email advertising

There are a number of different ways you can define your contacts. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the top 7 dos and don’ts of targeted email advertising.

1. Do: Create key customer personas.

Wouldn’t it be great if people walked into stores with signs that said whether it was their first time there, whether they’d been before but hadn’t purchased anything, whether they’d bought something once, or if they were a regular customer?

That way, the salesperson would know exactly how to approach them.

Thankfully, this is often something you can do with your mailing list, segmenting your customers into:

  • Potential Customers: They haven’t bought from you but may do in the future. Therefore, they need educating on your brand and your products or services. You could even keep your content more general, advising them on current trends in the market, for example. 
  • New Customers: They have just made their first purchase from you. Now, your aim is to turn them into a loyal customer. You can do this by sending offers and discounts that take them into a new marketing funnel.
  • Loyal Customers: These guys are the best. They are already loyal to your brand which makes them invaluable–but you can’t take them for granted. They don’t want pushy, salesy emails but they will welcome rewards that make them feel special, e.g. exclusive offers, competitions (like the example from Sephora below), freebies, or discounts.
  • Inactive Customers: These customers have gone off the radar. They’re no longer buying from you so they need fresh, exciting emails to entice them again. Get in touch with them and ask for their feedback on why they’re no longer buying from you, or ask them to fill in surveys about your product/service. 

Having these clear customer personas allows you to better understand your customer base while establishing a great relationship with them by offering relatable, relevant content. 

Source: Campaign Monitor

2. Do: Segment based on customer interests

It’s common for businesses to cater to a wide range of people with a multitude of products, which is why segmenting your list based on individual interests is a must.

But it’s how you understand these unique requirements that can help differentiate you from your competitors.

Typically, you can successfully segment your list based on how customers interact with your brand, and you can do this once you’ve collected their data.

For example, if you’re an online store that’s selling shoes, you’ll have women and men on your list. You’ll probably have people who are only interested in buying trainers, others who are only interested in one particular brand, and parents who tend to shop online for their kids’ shoes. 
If you send the same offers to your entire list, what sort of response do you think you’ll get?
A pretty lackluster one, right?

You need to cater to these individual customers by appealing to their specific interests. So if you segment your emails based on these preferences, you don’t have to second-guess what your customers are looking for all the time. 

Instead, you can start segmenting your customers based on what links they click on in your emails. So, if they click on new trainers from a specific brand (e.g. Adidas, as you can see in the email below from Sole Trader), you can start sending them emails about this category as soon as the latest products land in your warehouse.

Source: Really Good Emails

3. Don’t: Just define your data after you’ve collected it

While defining your customers often happens after you’ve collected their data, you may also find it beneficial to segment customers while you’re collecting their data. 

Segmenting before a customer joins your mailing list

Sometimes, you may be able to gauge what a customer’s looking for as soon as they come to your website and sign up for your mailing list.

For example, let’s say you’re a writer who’s about to start running a course on self-publishing. On your website, you may be generating a mailing list by offering customers a free trial of your course or an eBook on the topic.

Now, different people may be interested in self-publishing for different reasons. They have unique ambitions that are based on their individual circumstances, e.g. a business looking to promote their expertise through a book or an individual author who’s written a novel and is now looking to publish it.

In order to personalize your emails, you need to know what category is relevant to them. And the best way to do this is to use your landing page to do the segmenting for you. This helps you categorize your leads straight away while also boosting your ROI.

Source: Business 2 Community

4. Do: Use location and in-store or online preferences.

Location is often important in your email campaigns for several reasons.

First, if you have brick-and-mortar stores, you may want customers to know what’s happening at them and when.

Or you may operate in more than one country. Only those customers located near these stores or in this particular country will be interested, though.

Source: Campaign Monitor

A lot of email marketing software will allow you to select location as a segment as this is often garnered when a subscriber joins your email list. If not, you can always find this information out if a customer’s bought from you, using their billing or shipping address.

It’s also key to segment your customers based on who’s bought online or in-store. That way, you can send your in-store offers to those who are able to get to these locations, rather than irritating those who can only purchase online.

5. Do: Use engagement to boost interaction.

Every subscriber is different, which is why you’ll often see varying activity from your mailing list. 
Some may be avid email readers, opening every email you send, while others may be harder to crack and may have only opened the odd email from you.

Use this information to segment your customers.

For example, if you want a more responsive, fresh approach from your email list, you may want to segment those subscribers who are inactive. Then you can ask them if they want to stay in touch with you, perhaps offering a freebie to entice them to stay – but if they’re not interested, give them the option to unsubscribe. And if they don’t respond, you can automatically remove them after a week or two. 

Source: Emma

This ensures your email list is full of people who are interested in your products – and are, therefore, more likely to purchase. This helps boost your ROI because you’re only sending to people who want to receive your mail and will be paying less for your mailing list service—They’re often priced in accordance with how big your list is.

6. Do: Use email marketing tools.

To simplify your methods and to ensure you can effectively segment your customer base, you’ll need a reliable email marketing tool. Look to see what your service provider offers to make sure all of the necessary segmenting tools are available to you.

With software like Emma, you have the ability to create segments based on a number of factors and can personalize emails based on the data gathered from your recipients. This ensures targeted email advertising is at the heart of your marketing strategy.

7. Do: Measure, change, rinse, and repeat

Finally, while putting the above measures in place will boost your ROI, don’t close your laptop just yet. 

Continually use A/B testing to look at data to see how well your campaigns are working. What content is engaging your customers? What click-through-rate did you get on that specific email? How many people are opening these emails?

Use this information to add the perfect twist to new campaigns, making small changes so you can apply successful results to your targeted segments.

Wrap up

At first, targeted emails can seem overwhelming complicated, which is perhaps why 42% of marketers don’t send targeted email messages.

However, when you start to apply the above, you’ll soon see it’s far from difficult. It’s the key to driving more sales and results for your company.

And we're pretty sure your customers will love it too. 

About the Author

Grace Miller

Grace Miller is a content writer with a passion for grammar and the public library. When she isn't writing for Emma, she's probably writing fiction, reading another thriller, or listening to a true crime podcast.

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