Segmentation data is an essential element of delivering relevant email messages, but deciding which pieces of information to use can present challenges. And how do you personalize emails when you have too little information, such as with new email subscribers?
For email marketers, finding opportunities to collect background on your customer can deliver a more personalized email experience. While this information exists for every retailer — whether they sell apparel, footwear, jewelry, or insects — marketers often overlook customer background data widely available to them.
Stop ignoring the information in front of you and start segmenting your email subscribers by focusing on some behavior-based alternatives.
Collecting Background at Sign-up
There are some surprisingly simple ways to collect useful, usable information from new subscribers at the onset. Look no further than the email subscription process. Asking for a single piece of data on the actual sign-up form, such as gender or product size, provides an immediate segmentation opportunity.
Here’s how. Imagine you are an apparel retailer selling clothing for both men and women. Capturing their gender allows you to send a welcome email tailored to that specific gender. You can personalize with different hero images, navigation links, secondary content and product recommendations.
If your company sells both B2B and B2C, consider asking which group the subscriber falls into. Options like this exist for most retailers — you just need to decide which piece of information makes the most sense for your brand.
You can also capture the product category the user signs up from. For example, if a subscriber is viewing engagement rings on your site and then decides to sign up for your emails, knowing this information can help you tailor your welcome messages for this subscriber while providing a different set of messages to shoppers browsing watches.
Beyond the Simple Navigation Bar
Your email navigation bar holds a lot of value for collecting segmentation data, because clicking on navigation links tells you a lot about customers’ immediate interests. But capturing and using segmenting data is about more than just customizing navigation bars, it is about making all emails more relevant.
When an email subscriber clicks on any link inside of an email, their behavior tells a story. Your job is to help them navigate it. Here are some effective ways to provide them a more personalized storyboard.
Using Non-Traditional Navigation Bars
Traditionally, navigation bars contain links to a brand’s primary product categories — but they don’t have to. Consider what other types of links inside of your emails might be useful for customizing messaging.
For example, knowing a customer’s shoe size might be helpful for a footwear retailer. Instead of including links to your primary categories, you could instead link by shoe size. Then, you could segment subscribers by the size they indicated when clicking on a particular link. This would allow the marketer to use dynamic content in future emails, such as using a more traditional navigation bar with size-filtered links.
In this scenario, subscribers who click on the size 6 link in the navigation bar are placed into the size 6 segment. In future emails, the navigation bar has more traditional links, such as links to dress and casual shoes. However, when the subscriber clicks on the dress shoes link it would direct them to the dress shoes landing page, but with the products already filtered to size 6.
This is just one example of using navigation bars for the sole purpose of gathering customer background. Whether it’s shoe size, dress size, or type of pet, think of ways your brand can apply this same segmentation and email strategy.
Automated lifecycle messages outperform promotional messages because they’re based on customer action, like an email sign-up. And when customers sign up for your email program, they often plan to make a purchase soon, from either you or someone else.
Using some of the data already mentioned, you could send the subscriber a more relevant welcome message. But instead of sending a generic message two, three and four, you could use click-behavior inside of the emails themselves to customize subsequent messages.
Let’s use the apparel retailer from the earlier example. They capture gender at sign-up and send a gender-specific welcome message. But, instead of sending a generic second message in the welcome series, they could use click behavior from the welcome message to determine the next message.
For those who click the “jeans” link in the welcome message, they would receive a jeans-focused email that helps them select the right style and fit; it could even showcase some customer favorites. For those who click on swimwear, they would receive messaging around the hot new styles for the season and swim accessories like cover-ups.
And that manage preference message so many retailers send during the welcome series? It’s likely no longer needed now that you’ve collected some of this very same information.
This type of click-based messaging can apply to a variety of lifecycle messages, such as birthday, lapsed-purchase, browse recovery, and post-purchase messages.
Using this information in everyday promotional messages is also manageable. Even though the main content of the email may be generic (e.g. 30% sitewide sale), you can cater secondary content in each email to the individual based on these same data points.
For those in category-specific segments, like swimwear (either from sign-up, click, browse, or purchase), you can show swimwear banners or product recommendations. For those in particular size, gender, or customer categories, you can them content most appropriate for them.
Go Get Started
With a good marketing platform, this information is at every marketer’s fingertips and can easily be used by even the most time-strapped email marketer. If done well, you should expect these more relevant messages to increase conversions.
Greg Zakowicz is Senior Commerce Marketing Analyst at Oracle NetSuite