When most organizations initiate an email marketing campaign, they typically rely on what I like to call a “spray and pray” approach. You know, the trusty old strategy of blasting the same message to every single email address in a database, and hoping (or praying) that it resonates with someone.
Sometimes, that approach works and the content piques a few people’s interest. But more often than not, the message disappears into an inbox’s trash bin having never been read.
In fact, according to an email marketing metrics report released by email marketing service MailerMailer earlier this year, the average email open rate in 2012 was just under 10 percent. In 2011, it was slightly better at around 11 percent.
Think about that.
That means if you send an email to a list of 10,000 contacts, just 1,000 of them will actually open the email. And from there, MailerMailer’s research suggests that a mere 2 percent will actually click on the content in your email and engage with your brand further.
Yikes. That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement for email marketing, is it?
Actually, it’s more of a condemnation of poor email strategy. The reality is that “spray and pray” email marketing approaches drag those statistics much lower than they should be. If companies were a little bit more strategic about how they treated the contacts in their email lists, their response rates wouldn’t be so dismal.
Segmented Contacts: The Key to Better Email Lists
All too often, I speak with people who boastfully share that they have an email list of 10,000 contacts. That is a great number, but when I ask them to describe the unique segments within that list of contacts, at best they mention a couple of industries. At worst, they label them by region.
Unfortunately, that sort of broad segmentation isn’t going to cut it if your goal is to achieve response rates that really move the needle. In my experience, the only way to do that is to view your email list as micro-segments within target markets.
For instance, you could try grouping the contacts in your email list by title, role, interests, company size, or pain point. In essence, those groups will become micro-segments of 500 or 1,000 contacts with similar needs and interests. Once you’ve identified those groups, it becomes much easier to deliver more targeted emails to each micro-segment that more relevantly address the things they care about most.
All of a sudden, you’re no longer shooting blindly and hoping for the best — you’re honed in on a specific target and you know exactly where you need to aim to hit it.
Why Does List Segmentation Matter?
Ultimately, you won’t experience dramatic email success unless your list is segmented.
While a 10 percent open rate might seem decent, I can tell you from experience that 20 percent (or better) response rates are absolutely possible if you deliver emails that feel as if you wrote them for each individual contact.
The only way to do that, however, is to stop looking at your email list as a single populous with uniform needs, interests, and pain points. Like all of us, your contacts very likely have distinctive qualities that can be grouped into distinctive micro-segments, and you should treat them as such.
Yes, this level of segmentation will require more prep work as you create an email campaign, but the time you spend doing it will pay off. The more personalized your emails are, the more likely it is that your contacts will read and respond to them. And for that benefit alone, segmentation is well worth the effort.
Do you have tips on segmenting your email lists? Post them in the comments below!
Kendra Lee is a Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencer. She is a Prospect Attraction Expert, president of KLA Group, and author of the new book The Sales Magnet and the award-winning book Selling Against the Goal. Specializing in the IT industry, KLA Group helps mid-market companies break through tough prospecting barriers to exceed revenue goals. Ms. Lee is a frequent speaker at national sales meetings and events. To find out more about the author and her “Get More Customers” strategies, visit www.klagroup.com or call +1 303-741-6636.