There’s whitening and 24 hour protection. There’s Pro Health and Total. There’s cavity protection and stuff for sensitive teeth. Then they have every combination possible, different levels of whitening and your choice of paste or gel.
I find it pretty annoying, and I’m yet to find anyone who thinks otherwise. But, there’s a lesson here you can apply to your email marketing… without annoying anyone.
First off, let’s look at why are there so many kinds of toothpaste.
It’s market segmentation. They make an option to fit every desire and every budget. Supposedly, they’ll get more satisfied customers by meeting people’s needs more precisely. In the case of Crest and Colgate, I think they’re causing more frustration.
Either way, they are squeezing every last penny out of each consumer. If you’re willing to spend a lot on toothpaste, there are high priced options to let you… and don’t forget the special mouthwash, whitening strips and toothbrush to match. The same goes for folks who are up for moderate and low budget options.
There’s a price point for every budget.
Hardly a penny of profit is missed. Whatever you’re willing to spend on toothpaste, they’ll take it. Plus, a retailer has to devote so much shelf space to Crest and Colgate that other options are easy to overlook. (I suspect they ensure this by making retailers sign contracts detailing minimum shelf space coverage.)
That’s annoying market segmentation. You’ll see it in pet food, too, and even yogurt! But, that doesn’t mean market segmentation is a bad idea.
When you’re communicating with a customer, client or donor, you’re speaking to an individual. When you send out an email blast, you’re speaking to a bunch of people at once. Segmentation can help make your communications more personal and profitable.
Time for an example.
Say you’re doing email marketing for a non-profit. It’s time for the year’s big fundraiser. You can send out an email to your whole list asking for money and it will resonate with some of them. You’ll get some donations.
What if you sent out 4 emails? You divide your list of email addresses into 4 categories: long time supporters, donors, people served, and everybody else.
Now when you send out your emails you can speak precisely to your audience. You can thank long time supporters for their years of support and generosity. You can ask donors to give a little more. You can show the people you serve what it takes to bring your services to them. Everyone else can get the generic email.
What do you think that would do for your response rate? I think it will be much higher than if you send the same message to everyone.
Here are a few tips for making list segmentation work for your email marketing:
- Make your segments reasonably sized. You don’t want to have to come up with too many messages, and you don’t want to creep people out. Start with broad segments and refine them as you see fit.
- Use an e-mail marketing service to manage everything. You’ll go crazy trying to keep up with everything using Excel or such.
- Base your segments on things that make sense. For example, prospects vs. clients; VIP status; age; location; product preferences; time since last sale/donation/visit.
- Watch for opportunities to get more data about your subscribers. You may be starting with a list that’s tough to segment because you just don’t have much data associated with each email address. Look for opportunities to flesh out your database. You can capture detailed information when someone makes a purchase, fills out a survey or inquires about your services. Don’t let that data slip away!
This isn’t too complicated. Just start small — maybe a segment for customers and one for prospects. As you gain experience and data you can further divide your list.
Remember, the goal is to make your communications more relevant to your subscribers. The profit comes as a result. Relevance first, profit second.
What list segmentation tips do you have? Is there something stopping you from implementing this for your organization? Leave a comment below.