What is micro-targeting and why is it key to better email results?

Inboxes are full and consumers are busy. To stand out, email marketers can't send the same old emails to every contact on their list and expect great results.

Consumers demand a deeper connection. They want personalized emails that focus on products and experiences that are relevant to their life at that moment. It's a game changer for email marketers who have to step up and use email targeting to create campaigns that subscribers love.

One of the best ways to create and send hyper-personalized messages is to utilize micro-targeting. If you're scratching your head, don't worry.

We'll explain:

  • What is micro-targeting?
  • Why is micro-targeting beneficial?
  • Tips to make micro-targeting work for you
  • Tips to streamline micro-targeting

Let's get started.

What is micro-targeting?

Micro-targeting is a marketing strategy that uses granular data to break your customer base into tightly defined groups so you can send relevant messages to each niche.

This kind of email targeting is the result of a well-oiled data collection machine that helps you categorize your customers into like-minded groups.

If you're thinking: "Hmm, that sounds a lot like segmentation," you're right. Micro-targeting is essentially segmentation on steroids.

Segments are effective, but they're fairly basic. You might segment customers by age or sex, but micro-targeting takes segmenting to a whole new level. With micro-targeting, you'd have a segment of Detroit-based females aged 25 who can't live without shoes, according to their purchase and browsing history.

Suddenly, your segments are small, specific groups of customers that you can market to.

Why is micro-targeting beneficial?

By using this specific method of email targeting, you can reach customers on a more personal level, but there are additional benefits:

Drive more revenue

One of the biggest reasons to use email targeting is to boost your bottom line. Research shows relevant emails drive 18x more revenue than generic sales emails. Simply put, subscribers respond to messages that are relevant to their life by opening their wallets.

Show subscribers you care

Consumers want to know you care. They want to know that they aren't another number to your company. With email targeting, you are able to send the kind of personalized messages that show customers you know them and care about their patronage.

Give subscribers what they want

Consumers are bombarded with marketing messages from every channel and they ignore a lot them, but research shows 55% of subscribers actually want emails that include relevant products, information, and resources. Why not give subscribers what they want?

Avoid the spam box

Subscribers are redefining what spam is. Back in the day, spam was an unsolicited email that tried to trick subscribers into buying fake medications from a foreign country. Today, subscribers consider irrelevant email as spam.

However, if you send relevant emails that subscribers not only asked for but actually enjoy, your messages will stay out of the spam folder.

Tips to make micro-targeting work for you

Ready to get started? Here are some tips to launch your email targeting efforts:

Use data (from everywhere)

The more data you have, the better. Every piece of information that you've collected from a customer over the years becomes relevant with micro-targeting.

The website tracking you've done via Google Analytics, the behavioral analytics that you've gathered from your email service provider, the data from the surveys you sent – all of it is important.

Crank up the segmentation

Use the data you have to segment your subscribers and segment them again and again. You want small subsets of subscribers that share a unique set of traits.

You can segment based on:

  • Demographic data (sex, age, income bracket)
  • Behavioral data (website viewing history and previous purchases)
  • Email actions (emails that were opened, links that were clicked)

This is where data is put to work.

Start crafting personalized messages

You now have clear groups of subscribers who share common interests. Now, start creating those relevant messages we've talked about.

Let's say you run an online retail shop, and you have a segment of bracelet-loving ladies in their 40s who have a high income and have all recently purchased bracelets within the last month. You can craft an email that features designer jewelry but focuses on bracelets mostly.

The email is full of stunning product images that are relevant to this niche but don't forget to go the extra mile with personal touches. The subject line, for example, should include the subscriber's name, thank them for their recent purchase, and explain the personalized recommendations are just for them. Everything about the email should be personal.

Here's another example. When Flight Centre, a travel agency, noticed that a customer was searching their site for vacation inspiration, they seized the opportunity. The company sent the subscriber an email to help her find the perfect trip. Take a look:

But, the personalization doesn't end there. Take a look at the email's greeting, it has the subscriber's first name. Look a little lower. All of the "Flight Deals" are from her home airport in Ottawa and the suggested trips to Vancouver and Cuba were both based on her browsing history.

That is one personalized email.

Follow-up based on email activity

Once you've crafted an email for a specific nano-segment, watch your email metrics. Let the subscriber's actions guide a follow-up email.

If the subscriber who received the Flight Centre email opened the email and clicked on the Vancouver deal, create a follow-up email that showcases flights, hotels, and events in that city.

You know the subscriber is interested in the trip, so providing additional information makes sense for this subscriber at this point in their customer journey.

Using email activity is a great way to guide follow-up emails.

Tips to streamline micro-targeting

Sending micro-targeted emails is effective, but as you've probably guessed, it's a bit more time intensive too. Since you have more subsets of subscribers, you have to craft more emails.

However, there are tricks to streamline email targeting. You don't have to do everything manually. Here are some tips to reclaim time:

Use integrations

Your company likely uses tools every day that you can integrate to make email targeting easier. For example, Emma has an integration with Salesforce, so you can create segments based on data stored in Salesforce, track email activity in Salesforce, and collect and sync data between the CRM and email service provider.

You'll also find integrations with Google Analytics, Zendesk, Zapier and YouTube, just to name a few.

Your entire marketing strategy can take on a more holistic approach when the tools you use talk to one another.

Automate emails

When you're sending micro-targeted emails, automation is your best friend. Email marketing automation sends emails to subscribers based on a trigger that you set up.

What's a trigger? A trigger is either a scheduled date or an action that a subscriber takes.

For example, if you want to send a birthday email to your subscribers, the trigger would be a specific date.

If you want to send a subscriber a welcome email when they join your list, the trigger, in this case, is the action of signing up online.

A trigger could be joining a list, browsing a certain item online, clicking a certain link in an email – it can be any action really, as long as it's one you track.

Here are a few automation workflow ideas for email targeting:

Trigger product recommendations based on a customer's browsing history.

Create a series of three cart abandonment emails. The first is sent one hour after a cart is left, the second contains a promotion and is sent on day two, and the third is a final reminder sent only to subscribers who opened the second email.

Based on a subscriber's blog surfing, send a newsletter that features similar content.

Send a post-purchase thank you email that features accessories for the product purchased. If the email is opened, send a follow-up email that features customer testimonials about each product.

Use dynamic content

While integrations and automated journeys can go a long way, you need a tool that cuts down on email creation time. Enter dynamic content.

Dynamic content gives you the ability to change pieces of your email campaign based on who receives it.

Remember the example from the online jewelry store? We talked about sending an email to bracelet-loving ladies in their 40s who had a high income. Well, let's say you have another segment of ring-loving ladies and necklace-loving ladies too.

Using dynamic content, you can swap out the pictures of the jewelry based on the user's preference, so the ring-lovers see beautiful diamond rings while the necklace-lovers see the latest rose gold necklaces.

You create one email, but the images change. Amazing, right? You just saved a ton of time.

Use dynamic content to change blocks of text, images, headlines, call to actions—you name it.

Wrap up

As an email marketer, you're vying for inbox attention. You need a way to differentiate yourself in a crowded space, and micro-targeting gives you that ability. By collecting and using customer data, you can send the kind of hyper-personalized emails that subscribers crave.

Of course, to make email targeting effective, you'll have to rely on some tools. Don't be afraid to lean on integrations, test automation workflows and use tools that make personalizing emails a snap.

About the Author

McKenzie Gregory

McKenzie Gregory is a senior content manager on Emma’s marketing team. A Nashville native, she can be found covering all things email on the Emma blog, debating hyphenation rules, and watching obscene amounts of Netflix without a trace of shame.

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