As an animal and human rights activist, I believe strongly in the teachings of equality. But as an email marketer, that same harmonious mentality makes me cringe. In the email world, we know that selecting an audience for your content is absolutely crucial to the success of your program. That being the case, we need to first have a solid understanding of who our audience is and then decide how to treat them.
First, create a list broken down into a few categories; let's start with these three:
This category should be reserved for your truly elite subscribers. Create a qualifying factor that makes sense for your company; did these subscribers purchase a certain amount of merchandise? Fill out a certain number of web forms? Share a certain number of articles? Left a certain number of comments? The possibilities are endless; it's up to you to decide what makes sense given your unique context. Once you've created the rules for this group, pull the numbers from your database of who falls into this category (you may need to reassess if it's a large percentage of your audience; remember, these people should be truly exceptional).
This category should contain the majority of your subscribers. These people read and engage with your content every so often. They're considered active, but they don't go above and beyond.
The subscribers in this category should be close to being completely inactive but aren't quite there. Since you're obviously practicing excellent list hygiene and removing your inactive subscribers already, we don't need a category for those long gone and unreachable users. Instead, let's focus on the people who rarely engage, because they still have a heartbeat.
Once you've identified who the people are in these three categories, the next step is to decide how you want to treat them. Maybe your superstars could benefit from a nice thank you email signed by your CEO or get an exclusive coupon as a reward for being outstanding subscribers? Maybe your hanger-on-ers need a swift kick of urgency-oriented content to get them reengaged? These are questions that will be answered differently by every company, but the important thing to do is start the conversation. Some of you may be able to create multiple sub-categories of the above groups and some of you may only have enough subscribers to use this base foundation. You can make this as complex and descriptive as makes sense for you.
Once you start treating people based on their level of activity, you'll notice a jolt in your engagement and list retention. Just make sure you leave that segregation in your outbox ;)
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Christine Doré is an e-mail marketing manager at PETA in Los Angeles. As part of the Marketing Engagement team, she focuses on email strategy and optimization. Her team's innovative tactics for audience segmentation and online advocacy have been twice awarded at the national level and continue to be trailblazing strategies for the non-profit community.
March 19, 2014