Segmentation is the Key to More ROI from e-mail Marketing
Well, my inbox – like yours – is all filled up with crap again, and so much of it is crap because it’s irrelevant. I’m not interested in hybrid cars, celebrating with Bruegger’s Bagels or Amazon’s amazin’ deals on kiddie gear.
There are a few nuggets in my inbox though. There’s offers for information that’s going to help me keep abreast of trends in digital marketing …. I see a few with updates from LinkedIn groups I’m following … and there’s one from a dealer of vintage guitars (but please don’t tell my wife I’m thinking about buying another guitar!)
These e-mails jumped out of all of the crap in my inbox because they were specifically targeted to my interests and needs … mostly because at some point in the past I opted in to receive their communications. But even with opt-in, e-mail has become white noise. Targeted, segmented e-mails, delivered with clever or compelling subject lines is critical to getting more ROI from your CPA or consulting firm’s marketing efforts.
Every CPA and consulting firm in the known universe uses email to communicate to suspects and prospects, but enterprising firms are generally light years ahead in adapting and using technology to segment email lists for better results and a stronger ROI from their investment.
In its simplest terms, segmentation is used to create categories of customers and prospects into groups that have similar traits. Segments can be based on almost anything – industry, compliance issues, company size or tax status, and so on. By created segmented and targeted email lists, your firm can realize a greater level of targeting and consequently more relevant marketing.
Email segmentation refers to getting the right message to the right prospect at the right time or stage of relationship. It’s generally accomplished though a content marketing strategy executed via automated marketing technology.
Why is Segmentation Important?
More and more marketers are starting to realize the importance of segmentation in their email communications. According to the MarketingSherpa 2012 Email Marketing Benchmark Report, 32% of marketers say segmenting their email database is one of their organization's top objectives in the next 12 months. Furthermore, 52% of marketers say they have a great need to improve email database segmentation.
Here are a few key reasons why you might consider devoting time, attention and resources to e-mail segmentation:
- Your customers and prospects are not the same – they have different interests and needs, and in order to build your corporate or personal brand, or to generate a lead, your message has to be addressed to their specific concerns. Don’t be promoting your audit services, for example, to a market that’s interested in ERP system m selection. Inbound marketing can play a critical role in identifying and acquiring leads that have a particular issue or need
- Your prospects are at different points in the sales cycle – and you should be using email to build a relationship with them before soliciting a sales appointment. Email can and should be used to warm a prospect, starting with educational material and case studies, leading to a point where an offer to meet (i.e. a sales meeting) is appropriate.
- Your credibility will improve – sending targeted messages to a segment is a way to establish your reputation and credibility. It’s a way for you to showcase your experience and expertise within a particular industry or for a particular service, without bringing the rest of your firm’s capabilities or services into the picture.
- Segmentation works – the graphic presents recent research about the effectiveness of e-mail segmentation. Better open rates, fewer opt-outs, more sales leads … what’s not to like?
Segmentation Requires Content
E-mail segmentation goes hand in hand with content marketing. In order to deliver segmented messages to the right prospect at the right time, and in the context of that prospect’s buying cycle, you need content … and lots of it. Consider for example, a drip e-mail campaign to sell compliance services. Your campaign might require 3 or 4 emails, each with a different message, before a prospect is warn enough for a sales meeting request.
In other words, your firm needs to be prepared to make an investment in content marketing in order to make an investment in segmented email marketing that works.
Now I’m going to go back and open that e-mail from the guitar dealer and drool a little bit more about that old Martin D-28 he’s offering. I just love relevant e-mails!