Achieve 'Repeatable Relevance' in 4 Steps

  |  March 3, 2011   |  Comments

The time you invest now to build repeatable relevance the right way will pay off with higher engagement for your future campaigns.

Sending timely-targeted e-mail will give your e-mail programs the relevance edge. Targeted messages generate higher opens, clicks, and ROI than "batch and blast" e-mails.

Relevant e-mail messaging is more important than ever these days, given the added demand for your recipients' attention in the inbox.

However, relevance by itself isn't enough. You need to aim for "repeatable relevance."

One-Offs Aren't Enough

I recently received an excellent retail e-mail that was highly timely and relevant. I ended up buying from it. Success, right? Not quite.

It was a one-off success: a one-time message from a brand that usually sends broadcast messages that aren't always relevant.

Further, the design and coding showed that this kind of message could not be repeated easily and cost-effectively as part of a regular messaging stream.

Challenges Facing Repeatable Relevance

So, although this particular e-mail is on the relevancy path, true ROI growth comes with repeatable relevance. It's not that easy to achieve, however.

Repeatable relevance is hard to deliver. You must be able to match behavioral data models to products and then execute the proper message, over and over again. For most marketers, this also has to happen with limited marketing-budget resources and time.

How to Get Started

These suggestions will take you down the path to relevance:

  1. Create link categories. Begin by using the data you have now. Track where people are clicking in your e-mail messages. This tells you what they're interested in, which will help define relevance in your e-mail program.

    Define the link categories based on your main categories, such as your site navigation. Using this information, bucket your customers into those categories based on where they are clicking. This is sometimes called indirect profiling.

    Remember: you will need to create a hierarchy of links because customers will click on more than one link at your site.
  2. Use Web visitors' browse behavior. Using browse behavior – the pages a customer visits on your website – normally gives you the best response and conversion and, therefore, your biggest return. You'll need a Web analytics program to capture browsed behavior and pass it through to your ESP, where it's matched to the e-mail opt-in.

    Create categories for browse behavior, and match them to your link categories. Build a persona for each e-mail address in your database. That way, you can create segment or dynamic-content statements such as "Clicked on link category 1" or "Browsed category 1."
  3. Build modular templates. A modular template is essential for repeatable relevance, because it allows you to change or update information easily or switch modules in or out according to the data you have for each customer. It can also be designed attractively and have the added optimization of relevance.
  4. Create different versions of your e-mail message using dynamic content. Once you have designed and tested your modular template, you can version different modules within the template using link and browse data. This is called dynamic content. You can also use different versions of your subject line and pre-header (the top line of editorial content in the message).

    Another quick and effective method to boost relevance: create different versions of the subject line or preheader (the top line or two of editorial content in the message) using link or browse data.

Tip: don't try to version every aspect of your e-mail message at one time. Try one module or component in the message first.

Start small. Begin with three to seven data categories, and build from there.

The time you invest now to build repeatable relevance the right way will pay off with higher engagement for your future campaigns.

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Matthew Hayes

Matt Hayes is the director of services strategy at Lyris. With experience in the e-mail industry both in the U.S. and in the U.K., Matt has deep knowledge and experience working with clients in the strategy and development of welcome programs, lifecycle campaigns, list retention and growth, Web behavior segmentation, and e-mail design. Matt started his e-mail career at a U.K. agency that became Lyris UK and was instrumental in managing e-mail marketing campaigns for some of the biggest brands in the U.K. Matt's background is specialized in high-end fashion retail where he set up revenue-driving campaigns. In 2009, Matt moved to San Francisco to manage a team of campaign specialists and drove e-mail marketing strategy for clients in the U.S.

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