With the art of email marketing advancing at a rapid pace and becoming increasingly more sophisticated, relevancy has emerged as a key factor for achieving top-tier email marketing success. Indeed, many experts see success or failure hinging on the degree of relevance that marketers can achieve.
“The biggest challenges marketers will face in 2012 is remaining relevant with their email communications,” said Michael Stelzner, Founder and CEO of Social Media Examiner.
Likewise, Emailvision CEO Nick Heys asserted that relevancy was the key email marketing trend this year, arguing that creating more compelling and relevant campaigns was the most significant challenge and opportunity facing all digital marketers.
That relevancy can cause marketers to win or lose customers is seen in a number of surveys. Thee-Dialog Center’s “Consumer Insight on E-mail Relevance”study reported that55% of consumers stated they do not open and read messages regularly because they do not match their areas of interest.
A CMO Council and InfoPrint Solutions survey found that of the 91% of consumers who opt out or unsubscribe to emails, 46% do so because the messages are not relevant. A GI Insight survey reported similar results, with 53% of consumers saying that almost all of the email they receive is irrelevant.
How can marketers achieve relevance? Many experts point to segmentation as the key. Among them is Metia Group’s Amber Whiteman, who advises that segmenting readers to deliver targeted content is required to maximize relevancy. “You can segment them by company, products used, stage in purchasing cycle, specified areas of interest, or any other characteristic you are tracking,” says Whiteman.
Likewise, Matthew Kelleher of EConsultancy counsels that to achieve relevancy, “segmentation built on the customer base using purchase history combined with behavioral data is required, and doing so is so imperative that it “is not optional anymore.”
Lucy Hudson of eCircle advises creating highly targeted, relevant campaigns by using a change in a customer’s behavior or profile to trigger an email response. This, says Hudson, enables you to capitalize on customer interests at a time when they are most responsive and likely to purchase.
While many marketers speak of relevancy in terms of reader engagement, others refer to relevancy mainly as a deliverability and inbox email ranking issue. AWeber CEO Tom Kulzer, for example, says he expects to see a continuing focus by webmail and ISPs to sift and sort inboxes and spam folders based on user engagement metrics. “Things you open, click and reply to,” says Kutzer, “will get moved to the top, and things you don’t open, delete, or mark as spam will move to the bottom or to the spam folder.”
Similarly, Christina Belmont notes that new content-rating tools such as Google’s Priority Inbox and Hotmail’s Sweep are game changers and that providers “now expect you to offer highly relevant content and only relevant content.”
As Belmont points out, these new content-quality tools make segmenting your lists even more obligatory. She also suggests using dynamic content and sending more emails to the more active subscribers on your lists, while sending fewer to those who are less active.
As we have seen, experts also recommend using demographic append services to acquire the valuable profiling information needed to segment prospects.