Archive for November, 2010

Be relevant with Segments

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Different groups of clients have different needs, interests or buying habits concerning a certain product or brand. If you always send messages about a product to a person that’s not interested at all, eventually they’re going to unsubscribe or report your emails as spam.

The solution for bigger efficiency of email marketing campaigns is organizing your list on relevant criteria.

Segmentation is the process of dividing customers into distinct groups based on criteria you consider relevant for your email marketing campaign. These criteria can be based on demographic data, the past behavior of your subscribers, or other information you might have about them.

A well done segmentation will allow you to send messages suited to your subscriber’s needs and interests. This is also a way to avoid spam reports and it’s good for your reputation so it increases deliverability.

Why segment?

The data base of your subscribers is not homogeneous. If you send the same message to all your subscribers, you can’t get to everyone’s need or desire.

With segmented groups you will be closer. Also, sending irrelevant messages will determine your customers to hit the unsubscribe link or the spam button.

How to create segments of subscribers

To start segmenting your list you need to gather as much as possible about your subscribers.

First step can be made as soon as they subscribe by conceiving the subscription so you can find out what you need to know.

But, be careful asking too much might lower the subscription rate. You can ask more in the confirmation email sent to the user after subscribing or in any other email sent afterwards. Any interaction with the user is a chance to find out more.

Segmentation criteria

The criteria you can use to divide your list in groups are various and you have to choose them accordingly to your communication needs.

You can segment based on the information you have about your subscribers (customer/potential customer, preferences, purchased products, etc).

The most common criteria of segmentation are: demographic data, personal interests and past behavior.

Demographic data

This is information like age, sex, location, studies.
This kind of data can be obtained at the beginning of the relationship with your subscriber through the subscription form.

Personal interests

The best way to get this kind of information is to request it in your messages. Be careful about how much information you request and how often you do it.

Past behavior

Each sending action can be evaluated by indicators about the behavior of your customer (opening rate, clicks, conversions/buys, answers, etc). Those are very important criteria you have to take into account.
For example, you can create a segment with the subscribers that opened or clicked links in your emails, these are the active ones and you have to take good care of them and reward their loyalty.

If you’re selling something you could create a segment with subscribers that bought a certain product from you. You could send offers with related products to this segment.

Another segment you should not neglect is the one of the subscribers that share your message in social media.

Are you segmenting your list? What other data you use when creating your segments? Please let us know in the comments.

Customer Loyalty through email marketing

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

From the first email sent, the email marketer has to keep in mind one thing: connect with your client.
In order to do that you have to know him, find out what is he interested in and send him relevant messages.

When you are trying to build a relationship with your customers you should keep in mind that keeping an old customer is much easier than finding a new one. To make a new customer you need to find him, contact him and let him now that your company does. But if you take care of your existing customers your profit will bigger.

Keeping old customers vs getting new ones

Research shows that existing customers are known to spend more per sale, buy more frequently and recommend to friends generating word of mouth. So priority one is to keep your existing subscribers happy. Of course, every business needs to make new customers and develop and you need to focus on that part of your business too.

Direct email is a cost-effective way to maintain a relationship with existing customers, increasing their level of satisfaction and loyalty. This can be accomplished with messages that transmit useful and timely information and also show that you are interested in their needs.

Here are some suggestions that will help you to maintain and develop the relationship with your existing subscribers.

1. Personalize your messages

It is very important to customize your message as much as possible. To do this, first you have to segment your subscribers into groups based on their past behavior.

Use everything you know about them to send relevant emails. Your objective is to make customers feel special and that you know and understand their needs.

You can also segment based on important days in your subscriber’s life, for example you could send them a message on their birthdays.

2. Give them suggestions and recommendations

When your subscribers respond to one offer you sent, you can make recommendations and propose related products.

For example, if someone wants to buy skin lotion, you cand send information and some suggestions with links to skin care products. Or if someone bought a bathing suit you can give them suggestions of sunglasses.
With WomSend you can do this automatically with autorespoder campaigns.

3. Request their feedback

Listen to your subscribers opinions, suggestions and discontents.

For instance, you can send a survey asking them about their experience with the previous product they’ve bought. Do this periodically.

4. Reward them

Create exclusive promotions for your loyal customers. Keep in mind also to take good care of the subscribers that recommend your company to their friends.

Remember the offerings in a loyalty program should be better than offerings to a general email list. Make them feel special.

How do you make your customers feel special?

10 things to do to get out of spam

Friday, November 12th, 2010

Spam has become a daily issue for the internet user. Botnets, networks of virus-infected computers, are used to send high volumes of spam and uninformed marketers buy lists and send messages without any permission from recipients.

And this way each user receives every day unsolicited e-mail, so every message sent is suspicious to be spam. The immediate consequence is that the big Internet Service Providers (Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail, etc) are trying to protect their users by setting up very exigent spam-filters.

Don’t be a victim of spam filters: take care of your e-mail

Spam-filters are more and more specialized in order to cope with the dimension of junk e-mailing. To be sure that your e-mail gets to your customer you have to know how spam filters work and adjust your email campaigns to their criteria.

1. Your reputation is crucial for your e-mails.

Yes, the ISP’s like Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail use filters based on reputation.

Your reputation is a score associated with your IP and your domain. The score is calculated based on the bounce rate, open rate, report-spam rate and other actions of your user (clicks in the message, replies, clicks on “not spam” , etc ).

2. Unsubscribe option is mandatory.

The e-mail must have an unsubscribe link which users can use when they want to stop receiving your e-mails. If you have this link and it’s visible, you are trustworthy is the eyes of your subscribers.

You have to make the unsubscribe process easy, so your subscribers won’t choose to go to report-spam button.

3. Customize your message.

You can use the name of your subscribe in the subject or the body of the e-mail.

Also use other personal data provided by the users.

It’s recommended to use this data to send relevant messages to every subscriber.

4. Be careful with the frequency of your e-mails.

If you send too often this may be disturbing and it may determine the subscriber to report them as spam.

Too rare messages may make your subscriber forget why she once subscribed to your newsletter or even forget she subscribed.

5. Use “Double opt-in” subscription.

This way your subscriber has to double check when he subscribes to your newsletter: the subscribtion request is followed by a confirmation. He will only start to receive your newsletters after he confirms by clicking the confirmation link.

This is important for the authentication, because people can put the wrong e-mail address, or use another person’s identity.

6. Encourage your subscribers to add you in their Address Book.

This can be done through various methods: on the subscribtion page, on the page they get after sending the form, in the confirmation e-mail or in every other e-mail they receive after subscribing.

7. Use the right words

Good content is one of the spam filters criteria.

The simplest way to avoid getting stuck in the Junk Mail by using certain words is to test. You can send to some email addresses test messages, if they enter the Junk folder you know you have to make some changes.

Key words are an important factor but if you have a good reputation you might get away with some bad keywords.

8. Always monitor the list

The bounce rate (messages rejected by the server because the addresses are no longer valid) of your messages is a very important indicator for your reputation.

If the bounce rate is big your IP or domain can be blocked. To avoid a big bounce rate you need to keep your list up-to-date. Monitor the openings of your messages and remove the addresses that are not active.

9. The formatting of the email is important.

A simple one will keep you far from the spam filters. Don’t use to many colors, font types, images, etc. If you send messages in HTML format, include a text alternative and check if your html is valid. For validation you can use

10. Get interactive with your subscribers.

From time to time send an email that looks more personal and try to get an answer to it.

For example you can send a message with a question for your subscribers and offer a prize to encourage many answers. This will help you activate some of those inactive addresses and at the same time it might add up to your reputation score.

The unsubscribe link, friend or foe?

Monday, November 8th, 2010

A high unsubscribe rate is the nightmare of every e-mail marketer, but there is a much worse alternative: spam reporting.

It’s compulsory to offer an unsubscribe link for the recipients but are you making it easier and faster for them to want to hit spam button?

Many e-mail marketers choose to disguise the unsubscribe link or to make the process longer and harder hoping that this way users will quit unsubscribing. The truth is some people will always unsubscribe, then why to make it harder for them and endanger your entire email campaign.

A high spam reporting rate is used as an indicator for your reputation by the spam filters. Many users will use the “spam” button as a way of getting rid of email they no longer want as an alternative to the unsubscribing process, which may be difficult or not even work.

Why do people unsubscribe?

Here are some of  the most common reasons people quit a newsletter:

It’s too much!

You promised one or two email messages a week at opt-in, but now you are sending an e-mail every day.

It’s irrelevant or non-targeted email.

People who sign up to receive a newsletter on one topic do not necessarily want to get all email marketing from an organization.

They’ve changed preferences.

People’s lives and needs change. Some decide to unsubscribe because they no longer need information concerning your organization.

But it’s also possible email subscribers are leaving not because their interests have changed, but because someone else is meeting their needs better. Check out the competitors!

Improve your unsubscribe process

A friendlier unsubscribe process leads to better email list management.

Improving your unsubscribe process takes time and effort, but it pays off with fewer spam complaints and a more active list.

Here are some ideas about how you can make your unsubscribe process better:

1. Keep the unsubscribe link visible

Consider putting the link near the top of your e-mail message, especially if you are trying to reduce a high spam-complaint rate.

Readers who decide right away that they want to unsubscribe won’t have to scroll down to find the link. If you make them search for the link too much, the “spam” button is will seem easier.

2. Make them trust your unsubscribe process.

There are various ways to earn the trust of your users. You can boldface the link so it stands out from the rest of the copy, provide multiple alternatives to unsubscribing, to let subscribers know they’re in control and to address other unsubscribe drivers such as relevance and frequency.

3. Process unsubscribe requests immediately

If people have decided to unsubscribe, they will consider anything received from you to be spam and act accordingly. So make sure you don’t send any other message after they unsubscribe.