The TV show Seinfeld, which reigned as the most popular sitcom for most of the 1990s, inspired many a workplace water-cooler conversation with its quirky characters and hilarious, often absurd plots. Although the show might not seem the most likely source of practical advice, some of its most memorable moments provide lessons for improving your email marketing.

'Seinfeld, four!'

Jerry, George, and Elaine become frustrated when the maître d' in "The Chinese Restaurant" (Season 2, Episode 6) repeatedly promises a table in "five, ten minutes" but keeps them waiting much longer. After seating customers who appear to have arrived after the trio, he explains, "No, no, they were here before." Finally, Jerry and his two friends lose patience and leave, hungry and dissatisfied. Just after, of course, the maître de calls out, "Seinfeld, four!" to seat them.

Although Seinfeld and gang are not happy with their treatment at his hands, the maître de, by extending favored status to his best customers, is actually engaging in savvy business practice. Segmenting his patrons enables him to customize the restaurant's interactions and relationships with them.

While you shouldn't snub prospects as the maître de did, you should use your knowledge of your customers to segment your list, vary your offers and messages, and construct autoresponse campaigns. More relevant, targeted interactions with your subscribers will result in greater engagement and more conversions.

'Take the pen!'

In "The Pen" (Season 3, Episode 6), Jerry, while visiting his parents in their Florida retirement community, encounters their abrasive neighbor, Jack, who is extremely proud of his pen. "This is an astronaut pen; it writes upside down," he explains. "They use this in space."

When Jerry makes the mistake of expressing interest in the pen, Jack insists that Jerry take it. "Do me a personal favor," he pleads. "Take the pen!" Jerry's acceptance sets the entire retirement community into an uproar. Jack later claims, "He practically begged me for it."

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dave Calibey is the founder of BigThunk, a digital marketing and strategy company that helps its client use websites, email, social media, and local search listings to grow their businesses.

Sky Calibey is an associate at BigThunk, a digital marketing and strategy company that drives business results for its clients via online customer engagement. He will be entering his senior year at the University of Connecticut in the fall of 2012.