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To Segment or Not to Segment

  |  August 2, 2010   |  Comments

What is the best approach in e-mail marketing - the mass message or the segmented simple message?

To segment or not to segment?

I don't know the answer - do you?

I'm having this debate right now and would love your help. As a multi-product retailer, what is the role of e-mail? Is it to drive people to your website so they can choose what they like? Or, is it to give them such relevant e-mails (you always lead with what they have shown interest in) but open up the door to other options?

I'm on the fence on this one. What do you think?

Need more details? Let's try this example.

Pretend you're getting an e-mail from a multi-product retailer like Sears, Target, or even Walmart. At any point, your interest in these stores could vary wildly from shopping at them to get children's shoes, to a pack of gum, to a screwdriver to jewelry. And, just because you bought one genre of product this trip, doesn't mean that it's an indicator of what you'll buy from that location next time.

In the print world, these entities send you free standing inserts (FSIs) and print newspaper ads that blanket the best products and deals. Yet, in the social world, blogs and posts tend to be product specific - e.g., "Save $10 at Target on all Cosmetics This Weekend." So, here we have very different channel-specific approaches.

The question is, what is the right approach in e-mail? There are two schools of thought:

  1. The mass message: Since you don't know what these people will be inclined to buy, build the brand by creating messaging that shows a wide range of products and know that some will resonate and some won't. In fact, maybe it will make your reader aware of something they didn't even know they needed before seeing your e-mail.
  2. The segmented simple message: Stop trying to be all things to all people, and run the risk of seeing your message as irrelevant. Send messages that are targeted with products for "lookalike buyers" and keep the offering to a minimum. Allow the recipient to provide feedback through a preference center, which will give them the control to manage their relationship with you and make the most out of it.

Both of these options have merit. Both of them appear to have very valid points for and against the usage. If you had to put money on which one will move the monetary needle the most, and most effectively over time, which one would you choose?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jeanniey Mullen

Jeanniey Mullen, a recognized women-in-business and tech, is known for her entrepreneurial style and her ability to build, shape, and grow brands into well-known dominant, successful entities. Jeanniey is a pioneer in email, mobile, and digital marketing; publishing; and brand-building. She now leads her own agency, YellowBean LLC, focused on assisting companies of all sizes with driving innovation and growth. Most recently, Jeanniey was the Global EVP, CMO, and subsequently Chief Growth Officer for Zinio, where she worked to define and implement strategies creating explosive growth through strategic partnerships with publishers, technology companies, brands, and consumers during her five-year tenure. Jeanniey has authored and contributed to multiple books, blogs, and magazine articles. She is a regular columnist for ClickZ, a blogger for Huffington Post, and a frequent keynote speaker. A serial networker, in 2005 Jeanniey founded the Email Experience Council, which was sold to the Direct Marketing Association in 2008. She sits on the Advisory Board for IndieFlix, and on the International Executive Council of the Internet Marketing Association. Jeanniey is recognized as both a Top CMO and Top Author on Twitter, and was most recently featured as Mover and Shaker by the Professional Woman's Magazine, and a featured Woman in Technology by The Legacy Series Magazine.

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