The Future of E-Mail: Four New Marketing Segments You Need to Know About

It’s said that the only constant is change. As you look around the world of marketing, you can certainly see significant change happening.

Retailers are moving away from short-term dramatic discounts and moving toward value pricing for the long haul. Technology companies are steering away from marketing technological advances, instead embracing sustainability. Even in e-mail, we’re seeing changes come from a strategic perspective.

One of the most exciting changes coming down the road for e-mail is how we look at segments in our e-mail databases. Historically, segments have consisted of your tried-and-true responders and non-responders. From there, sub-segments have often included new customers, high-value customers, high-transaction customers, and so on. The approach to e-mail segmentation has typically followed standard direct-marketing practices.

Times, they are a changin’.

Last week, I gave a presentation on “The Future of E-Mail” for a ClickZ Webinar that will be available to view here. This topic drove quite a bit of interest with 700 participants and scores of questions. You can find the answer to these questions here.

We live in a digitally enabled world. Consumers demand faster access to the information they want, when they want it, on whatever device they’re reading it on.

Even personal communications are becoming more digitally inclined. The typical person on Facebook has an average of 120 friends on the social network site. With this digital evolution, e-mail has no choice but to grow and change with the times.

What does this mean for marketers? You must be smarter about your segments and find ways to make e-mail work harder for you in this digital world. That said, let’s take a look at four new e-mail marketing segments you need to know about:

The Social Influencer

These are people who signed up for your e-mails, but only respond to them occasionally. It’s not that they don’t love your brand — they do. They’re just too busy on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and 75 other networks to click on your e-mail.

Send them an e-mail that impresses them, though, and watch what happens. Nope, they still won’t click through and buy, but they will post it to their groups and drive up to 412 percent more response to your campaign than you would have had with your entire list alone.

Why? These people are influencers. You know, the cool kids. Get these guys to love your message and your campaign will be bigger than you had ever dreamed.

The High-value Customer

Sometimes the people in this segment are mistaken as the most important on your list. In the new world of e-mail, these are called the short-term revenue drivers.

These people buy from you. But they love you so much, they want you to be their best kept secret. So there’s very little exposure of your e-mail to their friends and family.

Think of these people as your revenue rock. They provide the base of money, while social influencers blow out your ROI (define).

The Wannabes

This is 80 percent of your list — people who like your brand, but who need your help. They love the offers and the deals.

What are they looking for? For you to tell them how to best work with you. E-mail people in this segment with ways to leverage your Web site, access deals, and just plain be more engaged. They want to be high value or social — they just need your help.

The “This is Spam” Clickers or Unsubscribers

These people are often forgotten in the olden days of e-mail. If your unsubscribe rate is less than 1 percent, generally you’re happy.

But what about people who no longer want your e-mail? Do they matter anymore? Yes they do.

These are people who felt your message wasn’t relevant to them. Some were so uninspired they couldn’t even find the time to look for the unsubscribe link — they just clicked, “this is spam” to get you out of their inbox.

Beware! These people are really social influencers in disguise. One unsubscribe or “this is spam” click can equate to 10 people hearing about how bad your e-mail is.

In the new world of e-mail, these people should be targeted in different ways. Woo them back before they cause brand damage.

Stay tuned for my next column where I talk about the future of e-mail being read on handheld devices.

Join us for Search Engine Strategies New York March 23-27 at the Hilton New York. The only major search marketing conference and expo on the East Coast, SES New York will be packed with more than 70 sessions, including a ClickZ track, plus more than 150 exhibitors, networking events, parties, and training days.

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