Reasons to Ditch “Batch and Blast” and Get Started with Email Marketing Personalization


We all like to believe we’re special. Or as anthropologist Margaret Mead wryly put it, “Always remember that you are absolutely unique  just like everyone else.”  

That belief (or state of denial) is why so-called “batch and blast” email is usually less effective than email campaigns customized to your unique market. In a recent study of marketing professionals by Experian Marketing Services, 62 percent said a personalized email subject line is crucial.

The study also revealed that personalized promotional emails generated transaction rates and revenue per email six times higher than non-personalized emails. The personalized mailings had 29 percent higher unique open rates and 41 percent higher unique click rates. For triggered email campaigns (in which emails are triggered by a calendar event, a business action or an action taken by a website visitor), personalization doubled transaction rates.

Because today’s email marketing services allow for more detailed data about customers, users can implement some pretty impressive personalization that likely wouldn’t have been possible a couple of decades ago. Logistics like fully optimized mobile applications and time-delayed messaging are now par for the course, as is message micro-customization based on consumer behavior.  

“With so many available tools, businesses of all sizes can now employ the best email strategies for reaching customers,” writes Jayson DeMers in the Huffington Post. “When used correctly, these tools let businesses of all sizes compete with even the largest corporations. As more marketers discover the value of personalized marketing, businesses that don’t personalize their efforts will likely find their campaigns are largely unsuccessful.”

Reasons to Ditch "Batch and Blast" and Get Started with Email Marketing Personalization

“To get started with such customization, conducting customer research is imperative,” explains Vertical Response Senior Content Marketing Manager, Linzi Breckenridge. “Your success with email marketing lies in understanding as much as you can about your contacts so you can better communicate with the groups of people likely to find your message relevant,” she says.  

Since personalizing messages for a world’s worth of potential customers is probably still out of technology’s reach, here are tips for identifying whom to target in your next campaign.  

  • Identify your target market(s), segmenting the groups of customers most likely to buy your goods and services. Think about which segment of the population has a problem your product is able to solve. Narrowing that down keeps you from wasting time and energy, and maximizes your chance of gaining and keeping customers, growing profits and expanding market share.
  • The most common ways to segment are by demographics, geographic location, purchasing behavior and/or psychographic segmentation (interests, hobbies, lifestyles, values and attitudes). The most common demographics used are age, gender and income level, notes social media blogger Lisa Furgison, all of which can be collected from your customers and embedded for reference onto your website or blog platform.
  • To help you form your messages, some marketing professionals recommend identifying common themes among your best customers and conceiving of actual “personas” that represent them in their various forms  including their shopping objectives and possible objections to buying.
  • Further fine-tune your target market by analyzing email data to identify customers who answered calls to action, like clicking to open windows announcing new product arrivals. “Knowing if, when and how contacts engage with your email is useful in determining which contacts find the message relevant,” notes Breckenridge. “You can continue the communication with those who respond, and tweak or completely change the message for those who don’t.”
  • Limit your target market to a manageable size. Warns Furgison: “If you overdose on segmentation, you could get frustrated and make your email marketing strategy more complicated than it needs to be.”
  • Consider rewarding loyal customers with discounts or special sneak peeks of products. “With a marketplace overflowing with options, repeat buyers are a much smaller segment than they once were,” Furgison notes.
  • Identify, target, and maybe reward brand advocates  customers who praise your products on social media or provide you positive feedback.  
  • Make an effort to bring back inactive customers, possibly with a promo. Such emails have titles like “We miss you!” or “It’s been a while,” notes Furgison, who also advises that surveys should find out why customers have strayed.  
  • Place the customer’s first name or user ID at the top of the message to quickly capture attention, advises Kevin Gao on “If the user took the time to register with your business, then there is some implicit trust between both of you,” he says. “Remind them of your relationship by promptly showing their names. This tactic is especially important for consumers on mobile devices as the limited space means brands need logical personalization right away.”
  • Ask customers for information so you can provide even more apt customization in the future. “But avoid being greedy,” warns Gao. “Customers don’t want to spend time with a detailed registration page that asks for demographic data or other personal information. Ask for the minimum, use that in personalized emails, and expand your data as the relationship grows.”
  • Messages to customers triggered by real-time behaviors  such as reminders that items have been left in a “shopping cart”  can be very effective. “Even if the visitor receives it minutes after leaving the site, it does help the brand to stick in their mind,” states Gao. “Personalization should also be included in standard messages, such as shipment confirmations, where companies can suggest additional products or services, perhaps at a discount.”
  • Consider customizing email messages to arrive at the optimal times for your customers depending on demographics and time zone. For example, emails to student customers could arrive in the evenings when they’re most likely to be browsing via computer.

Lastly, always test your email campaign before sending. Having more than one pair of eyes review the email reduces the chance of suffering from an error. After making the effort to boost open and click rates with personalization and segmentation, the last thing you want is to waste it on a typo.

Conclusion:  Move beyond the old-fashioned and ineffective approach of “batch and blast” to get the best results with email marketing.

VerticalResponse has made segmentation and tracking email campaign results a snap. Sign up and start sending up to 4,000 emails per month for free.

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Should Marketers Ditch YouTube for Facebook?


I can’t check my favorite news sources anymore without being subjected to yet another clever and innovative way Facebook is making advances into the online video space, a domain over which we always assumed YouTube would hold sway.

Every few days, there’s a new announcement from Team Zuckerberg indicating Facebook is making serious advancements towards some unstated goal of making video, from whatever wellspring, a seamless component of the social media experience.

This month, we’ve seen reports that Facebook will finally share ad revenue with video content creators (a tactic YouTube’s been employing successfully for years), that Facebook is experimenting with a detachable video player that lets users liberate embedded videos from their timelines and position anywhere on their screen, and that Facebook is secretly working on a music video streaming service that’s going to be a Spotify app killer.

That’s a lot of development in a short time—and they’re significant initiatives that we marketers need to take note of.

Enough Room in the Video Space for Everyone… Maybe

YouTube has taken notice, too.

YouTube CEO, Susan Wojcicki, played it cool, calm and collected when she engaged in an on-stage Q&A session at Fortune’s recent Brainstorm Tech conference. Claiming video views on YouTube are “different,” she argued that the online video space is so enormous and so quickly growing that there’s room enough for all comers.

Competitors like Facebook, Wojcicki mused, were only doing what any smart business would do in trying to claim a piece of the pie. It didn’t bother YouTube. The company is secure, she affirmed, in its ability to focus on what it needs to get done and ensure its position as the market’s top player.

Normally, I would agree with her. It’s no secret that the online video market is gigantic and there’s plenty of room for any business to carve out a profit providing niche. But after seeing Facebook’s recent set of moves, I’m not so sure it’s going to be content with limiting itself to that kind of restricted position.

From the evidence recently paraded before us, Facebook has its sights on being a much larger presence.

With now 4 billion video views per day, Facebook has captured the interest of users as a viable portal for watching clips. And now that it has proved that viability, it’s in a lot better position to use it. How? Through accomplishments it has made elsewhere on its platform. Here are a few.

Facebook’s Recent Accomplishments

Better mobile viewing

Facebook has a much better mobile viewing experience, and recent statistics indicate more users are accessing video content through their mobile devices on Facebook than they are on YouTube. Facebook users are exposed to video on the go, but YouTube browsers apparently wait to consciously sit down at work, school or home, and carve out a time to do their viewing. Facebook has the advantage here.

Higher viewer engagement

Viewer engagement numbers are also higher on Facebook. There’s significantly more sharing, liking, and commenting going on between users of the social media platform than there is on YouTube. The YouTube videos Facebook users are embedding in their timelines are racking up more views than the same videos content is over on YouTube itself. In fact, embedded News Feed videos secure a 40 to 50% higher engagement rate than “suggested videos” do in the right column of the YouTube screen display. This equates to Facebook having much more potential reach.

Better ad displays

A recent survey by Adobe reveals that the ads Facebook selectively promotes to its users are of more “genuine interest” because of Facebook’s wealth of user data and on-target algorithms. Only 17% of surveyed users could say the same about YouTube ad displays. No wonder that advertisers like HBO and Amazon have started to upload their video promotions directly to Facebook. It’s just a better buy. Expect to see this trend catch on in the near future, as marketers start abandoning YouTube as an unnecessary, and increasingly ineffective, middle man when the goal is getting your message seen by the qualified consumers.

* * *

Is it time for marketers to jump ship and leave YouTube? No, it’s a bit early for that.

We’re explaining to our clients that both platforms offer unique marketing advantages (for now) and to use the power of both.

What we’re seeing, though, is many people still equating YouTube with video content exclusively. Unaware of the improvements at Facebook, they never consider that their video content could also find a home on the social media giant’s pages—and that’s a bad habit we need to change.

If Facebook keeps up with this astounding rate of innovation in the video space, marketers and their clients will have no choice but to change how they view Facebook, and start including it as an integral component of their video marketing strategy.

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