We’ve had a wander around which details are needed for an effective database without being in any way specific. Perhaps now is the time to define the nature of the email data you need. The answer is simple enough: it varies.
Whilst a common generic name for what we do could be called bulk email marketing, the term should not trigger visions of some immense bucket that everything is dropped into regardless of its nature. The essence is the exact opposite.
In any email campaign your freedom in planning is limited by the nature of your email list but, in the same way, your digital strategy limits the segmented email list you can take from your database. This is not a logical fallacy. Let us look at someone selling holidays.
It will come as no surprise that a plan of ‘Holidays’ alone gives insufficient detail to classify the customer. The range is immense. All relevant research is clear: the scattergun type of approach costs subscribers. So how can you target your emails?
Define the holiday you are selling. Think of such things as destination, price, quality, time of year, flight, temperature, activity levels, and I could go on and you should. But let us look at just one subject.
For you, the destination is not a place but a range of classifications in your email list. I like Brighton as something is going on all the time. My wife likes Brighton: it has lots of shops. And my kids like Brighton because it has a nightlife that the council describes as vibrant. I’ve never been to Cromer on the north Norfolk coast but I would hazard a guess that night clubs, Laura Ashley and Speed Trials do not figure highly in the reasons people give for going there. This is not to criticise Cromer of course, but just to note that it differs from Brighton in some significant areas
You might think that there is little in common between the Regency splendour of Brighton and the volcanic residue in Edinburgh, but if a customer is willing to pay the hotel charges inflated by Brighton’s hoteliers in May then they must be on the list for your Edinburgh Festival offers.
If you are running an email campaign for holidays in Rome then including those who have been to Brighton outside the summer school holidays on the targeted list should earn a better response than one including frequenters of Cromer. But if your database puts up too few addresses to make the campaign worthwhile then don’t just widen the catchment: widen the definition. Is there is an opera being staged in Rome at the time you’ve booked the hotel? Then what about those who’ve been to Glyndebourne? Resist the urge just to make up the numbers as the research is clear on the subject: inappropriate offers lead to unsubscribes.
There is an inherent problem though. You should refine a customer’s profile each time they purchase and even just click through. If it is done without discretion their profile will eventually become too broad to be of use. To reduce the chances of them becoming everyman we need to limit the options as well.
This might well be a difficult concept for some but when planning your email campaign you need to define those to exclude as well. If we take another subject from our earlier list, activity levels, then a customer who has been diving off the coast of Australia, sailing in the Mediterranean and sailboarding anywhere there is wind, water and admirers might not respond well to your email campaign centred on a cruise around the Aegean even if a ride on a pedalo is included. An option is to run a concurrent email campaign for an activity holiday where, when they click through to the microsite, a hotlinked picture of the Cyclades in the setting sun might tempt them. It would me. If it is not what floats their boat then no harm is done.
Don’t just throw your email campaigns to the winds. Every recipient should take notice.