Email Marketing: How to utilize your consumer data without being creepy


by  | MarketingSherpa |

Have you ever been at a social event and a person, unknown to you, eagerly greets you by name? Recall the creepy feeling you got in that situation.

It leaves you thinking — who is this person and how do they know this personal information?

Thanks to the Internet, marketers have the ability to collect and use an absurd amount of personal consumer data. As marketers, we’ve used this data to guide consumers to ideal products and services without them even knowing. Well, let me revise that last statement — we used to do this without consumers knowing.

Avoid This: Personalization                                                                                             

As personalization has become a buzzword over the last few years, efforts to connect with consumers have gone haywire. Every day, I receive emails from companies who promote products similar to those I’ve pinned on Pinterest and address me by my name, or at least attempt to:

The Adverse Effects of Email Personalization

Honestly, when I receive emails that address me as “Dear Kylie” or “Hey Kylie,” I get the same icky feeling I would get if a stranger addressed me in that same familiar way. It’s just creepy.

Personalization should illustrate your dedication to a consumer’s interests, not how well you can stalk them.

To be clear, this is not to say that including a name or location will have a negative effect on your KPI. If you are confident your personalization data (name, location, etc.) is correct, then personalization — in making your site more relevant to a specific consumer — can be highly effective.

Accommodating the individual consumer can work in several ways, but we need to be cognizant of how far we are reaching to show our interest in pleasing potential consumers.

Embrace this: Segmentation

Hand-in-hand with personalization is segmentation. The meaning of the two overlap on several levels; however, for our purpose, let’s define segmentation as the division of a broad market into smaller subsets of similar consumers.

Take my favorite subject: horses. All domestic horses require nourishment. However, they do not require the same amount of nourishment.

Let’s say I’m trying to determine, on average, how much feed my large group of horses need. Since they live in a large field, I cannot feed them individually. Therefore, I’ve divided the herd into three groups to best meet the needs of everyone: large, average and miniature.

Segmentation of Horses - The Benefits of Segmenting Customers

Even though I am not addressing individual needs, now that my herd is divided, I can ensure that each group is more likely to be receiving the necessary amount of food.

In my testing experience, I’ve had a much higher success rate when segmenting consumers into broader groups rather than personalizing to the individual. Segmentation tests have allowed me and my team to gain insights that have ultimately effected which products are highlighted or even completely taken off the marketing strategy sequence.

While looking into segmenting, I strongly encourage you to take a seat and really figure out who your consumers are by asking:

  • What attributes are you looking for in your ideal customer?
  • What attributes can you assign to your most frequent customers?
  • What research is already out there on these types of customers?

For example, I was recently part of a MECLABS Institute (MarketingSherpa’s parent company) team running a test with a top-of-the-line headphone company looking to segment emails to their top identified consumer “types.” In this case, the same product was marketed to each group.

In our research of current data on these types of consumers, we found that specific design aspects, such as color, font and even layout appealed to each segment of consumers. In the end, each of the three segmented groups significantly outperformed the control in revenue per delivered with one of the treatments outperforming by more than 234%.

Placing consumers into “different pastures” allows you to efficiently address various consumer types, from our ideal to our most popular — without creeping them out.

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