Email marketing requires more attention than ever


You’ve closed on multiple sales at the boat show. Congrats. Now what? It’s a question marketing experts say most retailers are failing to ask.

It’s critical to nail down that initial purchase, of course, but to let it end there is leaving more income on the table. Building a continuing relationship using email (as opposed to social media) is still the preferred medium to communicate with customers. But, gone are the days when some general email cranked out to the customer list will accomplish anything. Today, successful email marketing calls for planning and purpose.

“Personalization” and “segmentation” are today’s buzz-words for effective email marketing. In our email-crammed world, it’s now necessary to send messages that will resonate with a customer’s interests and activities using a much more refined subset list of customers. Simply, miss this mark and it’s “delete” before ever getting a “click.”

Writing for, Scott Heimes, chief marketing officer at SendGrid, cites personalization as a key to good email marketing in 2018. Making it personal is nothing new but it’s become critical now. “No,” cautions Heimes, “We’re not talking about customizing subject lines, that’s no longer enough. What we’re talking about is list segmentation. It’s been around for a while, but it can up your personalization game by placing your users into lists based on user demographics, interests and other rich data available to you and your brand. This can make it easier for your organization to send information to recipients that’s relevant to their interests, increasing the chances that your message will be opened.”

This point is brought home even more by Carolyn Nye, director of the Digital Interactive Group for Acxiom that provides foundational data to marketers. She explains: “Much of the success of any marketing effort can be boiled down to making the message relevant to individuals.” She proceeds to review four common methods to personalize email, to encourage conversions:

  1. Demographics: The most basic methods are using age and gender to tailor the look and feel of an email. For example, hitting a boomer-aged lady customer with an email offering a discount on a wakeboard will probably have about as much success as a department store promoting maternity clothes to men. On the other hand, adding a unique element to the subject line or preheader will typically increase open rates, Nye contends. For example, referencing a local event or a recent news item could prompt the recipient to click.
  2. Purchase History: It’s seems a natural, but focusing on the product (boat, model, etc.) should go beyond demographic data, suggests Nye. Individuals that share similar demographic attributes are not necessarily interested in the same products. So purchase history isn’t foolproof. Rather, a combination of demographic information, behavior, and past purchases may help predict future activity. Tailoring content for all of those data points is the key to optimizing email personalization.
  3. Timing: We must recognize that individuals have different email routines. Some may look at their inbox several times an hour, Nye notes. Others may wait until the end of the day. So sending emails to recipients when they are most likely to open them will encourage sales. Easier said than done. Just how does one know when an individual will likely read an email? Some email service providers offer tools that analyze when subscribers’ interact with emails and adjust the send time accordingly. For example, Nye cites a Wall Street Journal report that JustFab, a women’s fashion retailer, experienced a 40-percent increase in first-time purchases after customizing email delivery times.

Bottom line: Personalization is the name of the game, but the truth is you’re only as good as your data. Call it your customer or prospect management system and take time to collect the right information so you can properly segment your customers for a post-purchase, ongoing relationship. Get things like boating location, gender, age, specific uses, shopping frequency, as well as important milestone dates. From that, create smaller segments from your list where those data points overlap.

In short, the more personalized you can be today in your email efforts, the better chance you’ll have of creating repeat customers and loyal dealership advocates.


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