List Segmentation Makes Email Way More Effective

Reasons to segment your email database

Audience segmentation has blasted way beyond simple demographic and psychographic descriptions of markets. Sophisticated email marketing schemes can suck data about your customers from Facebook and other sources and target obscure markets like guys who enjoy pilates, frozen dinners, and Finnish beer. Get started now with basic email segmentation, or you’ll have a nervous breakdown when big data and marketing automation hit your doorstep.

Why email?

Not many small businesses have the resources to use or buy big data to target messages to individual consumers. But you can put segmentation to use in your email right away. Most email platforms, even the bargain basement brands, offer some capability.

Why should I care?

You can send tailored information to small but important parts of your audience and make them like you. Why pitch a $500 driver to a novice golfer, or beer to a self-professed wine nut. It makes your company seem out of touch.

Because your content is more relevant, you can celebrate by kicking back, popping open a can of your favorite Finnish beer, and start raking it in big time.

Better numbers. The positive or negative performance won’t sway the analytics for your entire list. At Ideopia, we can always count on our friends and family list for a 60% click-thru rate with our eNewsletter. Great numbers, but they’re outliers when it comes to the performance of our overall list.

Zero in on the most profitable customer segments, and super serve them with customized content.

If you don’t have the resources to write 6 different newsletters then swap out the lead stories only. Still pressed for time? Reduce the length of your stories, or mix it up with Vine video or infographics.

How do I get started?

Sign up with an email marketing web application that handles segmentation. Here’s a helpful review of the most popular email marketing solutions.

Set target metrics or KPIs for each segment. Determine the most meaningful segmentation of your list. With any luck, your Customer Resource Management (CRM) system has already figured this out. Examples could include distributor / direct, gender, brand preference, geography, mobile vs. desktop, business category, etc. Start slowly; this is a journey, not a destination.

Modify your email address capture system, like web forms, to gather segmentation information.

Consider using information commonly available through your website, like time spent on a specific page, referral source (social media, landing page, search term).

Get help! Recruit the product manager to write stories about their category. Put the people in your company who love your products and want to express themselves writing first-person pieces, or creating Vine Video. Assuming you want to see your family again, you will need a content team.

Stagger your mailings, so the editorial crunch doesn’t hit on one day.

You can do it! This first step isn’t technologically difficult, it just takes the grit to plan and organize. You’ll see unsubscribes go down, and conversions and brand loyalty go up.

Is Segmentation Creepy?

On a sale of 1-10 with Facebook being the creepiest user of customer data, basic email segmentation is a 2. Do make sure that you upgrade your privacy policy, so visitors know exactly what you’re doing with their information.

Learn more about content and email segmentation with these posts:

How Evaluate Your Email Newsletter

Blow the Dust off Your Email Program

Mobile Friendly Email is a Must

Troubleshoot Email Marketing with Infographic

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Marketing to Teens? Try These Website Tactics.

You would expect the smartphone generation to navigate the web effortlessly. But, a new study released by Nielsen Norman shows that teens (13-17) might be more confident than capable of using the Internet.

One of the biggest differences between adults and teens was the ability to complete tasks given by the researchers. e.g. buying a sweater in an e-store. Surprisingly, adults were 14 percent more successful at completing their assignments.

So what’s going on? Jakob Nielsen notes that teens have “insufficient reading skill, less sophisticated research strategies, and dramatically lower levels of patience.”

It’s also possible that old people (25-35) build many teen targeted websites and serve up one-size fits all web experiences.

How to Repel a Teen from Your Website

Call a teen a kid, and you can kiss that sale goodbye. Teens resent being lumped in with kids. So watch your language and title on
your navigation.

Slow loading graphics or widgets repel teens. Most of them use secondhand equipment with slower computing speeds and Internet connections. Remember, this is an impatient audience.

Getting personal. Teens value their privacy. They’re very suspicious of any attempt to shake loose personal information. So don’t ask!

Are you targeting teens on the web? We highly recommend reading the entire overview report on the Nielsen Norman web site.

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How to Evaluate Your Email Newsletter

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After we send an email, some of us like to watch the opens in a real time. (We can stop whenever we want.) In the interim, it’s fun to hypothesize why some stories get a lot of clicks and others don’t. While this is great fun, we decided this methodology is useless. There are simply too many variables that affect clicks: position on page, the headline, the topic, news, weather, time of day, season, business category, and day of week just to name a few.

Now we have a better solution. Instead of looking at just one issue, we aggregated the data from 12 months on all the stories and articles including remails. The articles are placed into categories, e.g. home tips, fixtures and lighting, and the categories are ranked according to popularity. This still isn’t scientific, because you haven’t corrected for all the variables. But you’ll spot trends that you can A-B test for in future issues.

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Target Your Niche with B2B Search Engines

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Google is the undisputed 800-pound gorilla of general search with 65% of all searches. But there’s growing excitement about B2B search engines that target vertical markets.

Most B2B customers start with Google or one of the other biggies, but as they refine their search they switch to smaller search engines, like KnowledgeStorm, that target niche markets. It works out for everyone. The customer finds the detailed information they need fast. And companies receive click-thrus with much higher conversion rates. Many of these sites also offer paid search, which, on a smaller scale, can easily outperform services like AdWords.

We’ve listed some of the major B2B search engines below. It’s also a good idea to Google (ha, ha) the name of your category or industry with the term search engine. You might turn up a couple high school kids running a directory in their basement, or you could find a treasure. Here’s a flavor of what’s out there:

Start Your Search with These B2B Biggies

  • Business.com: With 6 million visitors per month, this is the largest B2B search engine. Sponsored search is syndicated to more than 100 other business sites.
  • IT.com: Targets IT industry with general and narrowed search.
  • Jayde: Includes company profiles and links to internal web pages.
  • GlobalSpec: Serves engineering, manufacturing and technical market segments.
  • Alibaba: Called the “online dating service for global business,” has 27 million members in 200 countries.
  • TooToo: Refines searches by category or type of business.
  • CleanHound: Information for the janitorial executive.

Now, find the B2B search engine tailored for your business.

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Too Much SEO? Google Nips Over-Optimized Sites.

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Last February, Google released nearly 40 updates to its search service. Among minor ones, like improving and standardizing search images, is an entire set of changes that takes aim at over-optimized sites. This is huge because over zealous sites may lose rank, or get booted from the listings altogether.

Mathew Cutts, Google’s mouthpiece to the world, explained that this is an effort to diminish sites that game the system, and provide equal opportunities to sites with the most relevant content on any given search.

Warning Signs of Over Optimization

Even though your site has avoided black SEO tactics, check it for these signs of over optimization:

  1. Excessive number of links on a page, especially to the same URL. Count the links on navigational drop downs and your footer. The danger zone starts at more than 50.
  2. Overuse of keywords within copy, e.g. “Ideopia is an advertising agency, also known as an ad agency, that takes being an advertising agency very seriously.”
  3. Back links that lack relevance from suspicious domains.

Google is serious about finding the best content for users. And no matter where you are on the SPAM-SEO continuum, this is a good thing. Maybe now we can allocate more budget to create engaging content, and spend less on SEO.

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8 Tips to Improve Landing Page Conversions

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  1. Landing pages are perfect for generating buzz about a campaign, pumping new products, collecting user info, and supporting events. They can also confuse people, overwhelm them, or make them want to gouge their eyes out.
  2. Lucky for you (and your eyeballs), we have some tips to help you navigate the pitfalls. A good landing pages uses:
  3. Concise headlines to tell users exactly what to do
  4. Consistent design, graphics and language between the landing page and email
  5. Offers to encourage signups and participation
  6. Clear calls to action
  7. Short, simple forms with large form fields
  8. Buttons with specific labels to prevent confusion and reinforce the call to action, e.g. “Enter Contest”, not “Submit”
  9. Clean layouts without distractions between the copy and form field.
  10. A/B testing to enhance performance and click thru
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QR Codes: Cutting Through the Hype

Based on intel from the marketplace, the current mania about placing QR Codes on everything from toilet paper and advertising to highway billboards and bikini bottoms may indicate that everyone uses them. But that’s not the case. Mobile Marketing recently asked “if there was a place for QR codes in an SMS-dependent society.”

Consider the facts:

  • The U.S. leads the world in mobile barcode usage.
  • Last year the adoption rate increased 1% to 6%.
  • Just one in three consumers thought scanning a barcode was worth it.
  • And only one-third of consumers know how to activate their phone to scan a barcode.

So, should we bag QR codes? No way. They’re just too fun for driving participation in contests, coupons, surveys; and access to important content. The adoption rates are slow, but marketers can accelerate it by:

  • Not sending consumers to dud pages, e.g. Facebook or your home page.
  • Using calls to action, the biggest reason consumers scan QR codes, and attractive offers to spur consumers to action.
  • Staying aware of place and context. Sorry, but billboard where traffic is moving 65 mph doesn’t qualify.
  • Creating landing pages designed for viewing on a mobile phone.
  • QR codes definitely have a place in the marketing plan. But they shouldn’t be the marketing plan. Learn more about the psychology of QR Codes.

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Oddball Internet Facts

Here are some oddball Internet and tech stats to wow your co-workers over morning coffee:

  • 7: The number of times the average computer user blinks. A normal eye rate is 20.
  • 7 Trillion: The number of SMS text messages that will be sent in 2011. That’s a lot of “LOL.”
  • 1: The number (out of eight) of last year’s married couples that met online.
  • 1.73 Billion: The current number of Internet users.
  • 17 Billion: The number of devices connected online.
  • 81%: The percentage of all emails last year that were spam.
  • 3,000: The number of words under the ‘set’ entry at dictionary.com, making it the word with the most entries.
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Getting Up to Speed on SEO

Maybe you don’t want to rip the guts out of your website and tweak URLs for better SEO, but it sure doesn’t hurt to know what the fuss is all about. So we’re heartily recommending Google’s Guide for webmasters. It’s 20-pages-long, non-technical, and it does a great job explaining how search works, and how to make it work better. Download it from Google’s Webmaster blog, and the next time you bump into Spock from IT, you can chat with him about canonical urls.

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Blow the Dust off Your Email Program

Perhaps you’re coming out of winter hibernation and noticing that your email results are slumping: open rates and click thrus are down, unsubscribes are up. And your mom hit the SPAM button. See if you recognize these symptoms:

Your email list isn’t true opt-in

You swipe names off business cards at tradeshows, buy affinity lists, or enter customers in contests without gaining permission to send other email.

Your creative is burned out

You send the same emails over and over again with minor changes. Your customers feel SPAMed and drop out.

You don’t have effective landing pages

Your email sends customers to a page in a catalog that is unrelated in design and message to the email, and doesn’t have a response mechanism. This trains them not to click!

Your list is stagnant

Even the best email programs lose subscribers. Email addresses and jobs change, and people just get overwhelmed. Make sure that your acquisition plan replaces subscribers at the rate they’re lost and also factors in your growth objectives.

There is no reason to click thru

Are you giving away the whole story in your email instead of using teasers? Do you provide offers, white papers or real news to entice prospects? If not, don’t expect higher click thru rates.

Your frequency is off
Every list has a frequency it will tolerate. Are you mailing weekly, bi-weekly, monthly? If you increase or decrease the frequency does your response increase?

Poorly designed email

Do you give your customers something to click within the first 300 pixels? Is your email just one big image? Do you have clear and compelling calls to action in text? If not, review best practices and tweak.

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