For too long, marketers have taken the easy way out: emailing every campaign to their entire database. Though simple to execute, such a "batch and blast" approach no longer works in a world where each email competes with thousands of digital, mobile, and social messages. It can be nearly impossible for your email to stand out and get noticed.
But there's good news. You can cut through the clutter by creating personalized email campaigns that are relevant—sometimes irresistible—to the people you are trying to reach.
Companies need to adopt new strategies and technologies that allow them to convert from "broadcast to personal" and drive customer engagement to accelerate business results.
Where do you start?
1. Take control of your data
Create a 360-degree view of all customer data sources
Data reflects your customer's persona and personal traits, and so it can help companies better understand and target relevant messaging to them.
In Bluewolf's annual study (email required for access to report), data was the second largest budgeted initiative for marketers, likely because 63% of marketers don't have a single dashboard to measure marketing activities.
Customer data is the backbone of your company's growth strategy, and it's essential to maximizing sales effectiveness, amplifying your marketing messages, and increasing customer engagement. But, oftent, it can also be overwhelming, quickly becoming untrustworthy, outdated, or redundant.
Take an inventory of what data and content you can actually access and measure across Marketing, Sales, Customer Service, and Social. You need full visibility into how data comes into your organization and its importance for different departments. When your systems are consolidated into a single view, that view fosters a natural alignment and better communication across all departments—leading to greater customer satisfaction.
Standardize data fields and values to ensure data consistency
The best way to increase the health of your database is to start at the point of data collection.
Companies that employ consistent data hygiene generate seven times the number of inquiries and four times the number of leads (email required for access to report).
For example, if your database has multiple titles for the same person, it can make figuring out whom you want to talk to more difficult. To create a solid foundation for effective email marketing, consider standardizing the title data by using the fields of "Function" and "Role" rather than highly variable fields like "Job Title." Doing so brings consistency to the contact list by normalizing around single-defined values.
Establish data de-duplication best-practices across departments/systems
Up to 25% of B2B customer data becomes inaccurate within a year. Duplicate information is a big part of this problem, undermining effective customer communications.
Standardizing your data should be an ongoing process. If you have a CRM system, ensure that data from your marketing and sales groups are flowing in both directions. Both sets of data need to sync to provide an accurate and current view of the customer.
Marketers need to engage every line of business to find out how and where they're getting new data; but, ultimately, database maintenance should be the responsibility of your entire organization. That means enforcing a consistent data governance program across your business and making it a regular part of staff onboarding and training, and ensuring it matches with each department's priorities.
2. Segment your audience
Identify the business objectives of your email campaigns
Segmenting is all about targeting a specific type of customer. Segmenting data enables you to group people with similar characteristics, such as job function, buying habits, and geography.
Segmenting allows organizations to craft unique messages and offerings that speak to the specific interests and concerns of each customer group.
Personalized, relevant marketing will help you improve customer response rates, boost customer loyalty and trust, and ultimately maximize business outcomes.
Implement the right segmentation strategy to meet your business goals
You can segment your audience hundreds of ways corresponding to business objectives, specific products or services, B2B or B2C, global or regional markets... the list goes on.
One useful way to segment your database is by buying cycle, which looks at your customers' purchasing habits to create content that's relevant during specific cycles.
Remember, there's no single right way of segmenting that fits every customer base. The best method will depend on your particular business, your unique sales cycles, and your marketing goals.
It's important to understand the various personas that make up your customer base. Flesh out effective personas by getting in the mind of that customer type. Put yourself in their shoes via shadowing or sales rep "ride-alongs," and identify where the customer experience falls short as they interact with your brand.
3. Define campaign success
Email success doesn't happen overnight. Companies need to set realistic expectations—based on past performance—of what a successful email campaign looks like.
Now there are powerful digital solutions to help track campaigns over time, and shed insight into whether a company is hitting its goals and actually advancing customer engagement.
The best marketing automation solutions, such as Marketo and Eloqua, come with built-in reports that give a holistic view of campaigns, including performance measures such as revenue and profitability, as well as customized dashboards for CMOs and other executives to track marketing effectiveness at a glance, predict customer behaviors, and make fast course corrections.
Marketers today need to measure engagement as they build trust with customers in the email database. When their email marketing efforts are relevant and effective, customer engagement will rise over time and directly feed into driving business results.