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Right Person, Right Message, Right Time: Improving Email Relevance

In email marketing, if compelling content is king, then relevance is undoubtedly queen. Marketers strive to make their messages meaningful enough to avoid the dreaded "unsubscribe."

An overwhelming 74 percent of recipients unsubscribe from marketing messages because of irrelevance, according to Forrester Research. That means consumer marketers must send information about golf only to golfers and messages about music equipment only to musicians. The same concept applies in B2B. You must know your audience and what its members seek and need.

Smarter Segmenting

As we wrote in our ZoomInsights article about improving click-through rates, segmentation is essential. The concerns of a CIO differ from those of an IT manager. Use every bit of data you have to break prospective customers into specifically defined groups and personalize the content as much as possible. Product Marketing Manager Paul Turnbull of email marketing service Campaigner advised, "When possible, include specific details about the recipient in the subject or email body." But don't overdo it, warns ClickZ's Stephanie Miller: "Messaging overpopulated with data attributes can feel like a staccato beat to customers as we rattle out the details of their interactions with the brand without any context to the promotion."

The Horse's Mouth

Email recipients will usually tell you what interests them, if you ask! Try sending an online survey with questions related to how your content meets readers' expectations. Be sure to leave a box where they can type in "other" information. "If you find a disconnect between what you're providing and what your subscribers expect, it's time for a change," said Connie Sung Moyle, public relations manager at VerticalResponse, a provider of self-service marketing solutions for small businesses. But Andrew Schrage, co-owner of Money Crashers Personal Finance, cautioned that campaign metrics can be more valuable than surveys, because what people say in surveys "can be vastly different from what they actually do online."

 

See What They're Doing: Track, Analyze, Adapt

Every visit to your website from an email recipient reveals exactly what's relevant to prospects. Web analytics programs will tell you when a prospect is visiting each page, where he came from and where he went next. A prospect who usually shows up on your site at lunch time should probably get your next message just before lunch. If a prospect browses from your landing page to pages about a particular product, make sure future messages are about the problems that product solves. Do you have an active reader that visited your site 10 days in a row but never filled out a response form? Have a salesperson call!

This is Only a Test

Test constantly to find out what's driving engagement and what's falling on deaf ears. "You can pretty much test anything in an email, including the name of the sender, subject line, image-to-text ratio, number of links, even the color of your font and calls to action," Moyle told ZoomInsights. Just make sure you have a control email so you can compare the results of your test email with it. And test one element at a time.

Put Customers on the Soapbox

Let you current clients drive email content and promote your products for you, suggests Denise Keller, COO of Benchmark Email, an email marketing service for small business. For example, send messages like, "10 products our clients love best" and "Video tip: Lifelong client Jim shows how we saved his firm money." Keller told ZoomInsights, "When you rely on the opinions, tips and more from loyal clients, you're no longer giving potential customers the hard sell. If you can show off an active and enthusiastic client base with your emails, you'll have a far better shot at convincing new customers to use your products and services."

The More Data, the Better

If your prospect database contains only basic data like name, title, company and contact info, you'll be challenged to make your messages meaningful. You need details, so bring in some more data. ZoomInfo offers deep details on more than 60-million businesspeople at more than five million companies – rich segment-supporting data that includes education history, volunteer activities, personal interests and even awards won. Contact a ZoomInfo data expert today to learn how you can beef up your database, precisely target your segments, send messages with greater relevance and successfully generate leads.