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Email Marketing: What Separates Top-Tier Professionals from the Pack

May 6, 2013   |   4 min read

Knowledge Center  ❯   Blog

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Top-tier email marketers achieve better results through the application of leading-edge approaches like Big Data mining, micro-segmentation, predictive analytics and real-time triggered email, coupled with best practices that include scrupulous data hygiene, real-time verification and demographic appending.

The qualities and practices that separate top-tier marketers from less successful peers can be gleaned from studies from Aberdeen Group, Silverpop, Yesmail, InfoGroup and other analysts.

Behavioral Marketing – Achieve a Unified View of Buyers

A common thread running through the studies is the movement toward more sophisticated customer profiling, which is required for successful real-time targeting and personalization. Another trend is the targeting of smaller segments, including individuals or “segments of one.” Leading marketers are mining and monitoring Big Data to understand prospects, build buyer profiles and identify targeting opportunities.

The more detailed the buyer profiles that can be created, the more success marketers can achieve in focusing and personalizing messaging, which is why analysts are encouraging marketers to aggregate information across silos to achieve a unified view of buyers.

Silverpop’s Bryan Brown, describing the trend toward behavioral marketing, advises building a centralized marketing database for just this purpose. Effective behavioral marketing, says Brown, “begins with moving beyond siloed marketing technology to a unified digital marketing database that captures the interactions of each person with your company across multiple channels-site visits, email, social, mobile, offline, CRM, location, Web forms and more.”

Best-in-class firms, says Aberdeen, show a superior ability to understand buyers at the individual level, and are more likely to customize marketing offers for segments and individuals. Best-in-class marketers also are more likely to optimize inbound channels in real time.

Marketing Leaders v. Followers

Another Aberdeen Research study (“Towards Segments of One: Predictive Analytics for Marketing“) describes how leaders outperform followers in their ability to segment and target more precisely, using predictive analytics to gain deeper insight into buyers’ personalities and tendencies. Leaders are better at gathering data and using analytical tools to achieve significantly higher marketing campaign response rates using fine-grained segmentation for individuals, says Aberdeen.

Leaders are better at gathering and utilizing information for segmentation and targeting, and at making more effective offers. Leaders are, on average, 50 percent more likely to customize offers for individuals, and the average response rate for targeted marketing campaigns is 93 percent higher for leaders than for followers, Aberdeen reports. Leaders also achieve 28 percent higher customer retention rates.

Aberdeen’s findings jibe with those of a joint Yesmail and Infogroup study that shows a major shift this year toward multichannel data analysis, combining individual customer data across all touch points to build more complete consumer profiles. The most sophisticated marketers, the study says, are already headed in this direction, building the necessary systems and hiring the right employees and partners to start thinking holistically.

Data- and Event-Driven Marketing

The survey findings show that most marketers plan to make data-driven campaigns a priority this year, and that a select group have already moved onto high-level analysis and application. The goal is to transition to an approach that will result in better targetings, more efficient campaigns and ultimately better customer retention and higher revenue.

In line with these findings are those of Vince Stuntebeck and Trevor Jones on MarketingProfs, who describe how savvier marketers are able to capitalize on real-time triggering opportunities with personalized messaging.

Event-driven marketing, they explain, mines transactional data for signs that customers are, for example, buying a home, getting married or having a baby. A company achieves a true competitive advantage, they say, when it has people, processes and tools aligned to deliver a strikingly relevant message through the right media when these events occur.

More Steps to Email Marketing Success

Attention to email fundamentals also is important to achieve marketing success. Silverpop’s 2013 Email Marketing Metrics Benchmarks Study shows that top-tier email marketers have higher open rates as well as lower unsubscribe rates, bounce rates and complaint rates. Top-quartile performers achieved open rates slightly more than double the median and more than four times higher than bottom-quartile performers. Top-performers also had hard bounce rates of less than 1 percent that amounted to roughly one-seventieth that of bottom performers.

This, said Silverpop, indicates that top performers are likely more vigilant about verifying email addresses before adding them to the database and about performing list hygiene to remove undeliverable addresses.

Silverpop also points out that savvy marketers look for ways to make their emails more relevant to each recipient, using different messaging tracks and serving up dynamic content based on that person’s previous behaviors, interests and demographics.

Experts also emphasize that top-tier marketers analyze and learn from campaign to campaign. For example, says Yesmail/Infogroup, email provides great lessons through business intelligence tools such as automated testing and real-time campaign optimization, as well as regular trending analysis reports. As campaigns are executed, the results should be measured, analyzed and insights applied to subsequent campaigns.

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