Email marketing is the most effective inbound marketing lead generation tool, according to Optify's 2012 B2B Benchmarking Report. Optify found that email marketing had a lead conversion rate of 2.9%, twice the organic search traffic lead conversion rate of 1.45%. While email marketing is the most effective lead conversion tactic, it can also be incredibly annoying if not done correctly. Have you ever found your inbox cluttered with daily emails from a company whose email marketing you never chose to receive? At some point, you probsbly either unsubscribed from their list or reported them as spam. Neither one of those outcomes are a good thing for email marketers, not to mention the fact that they've probably violated the CAN-SPAM legislation that regulates email marketing.
The companies that get the best results contextualize their email marketing to tailor their content based on the demographics and interest level demonstrated by the recipient. What do I mean by "contextualize?" In my opinion the best company at contextualizing their marketing efforts is Amazon.com. Amazon shows customers recommendations based on their past purchases and online behavior.
In the screenshot shown above, Amazon has recommended several MP3 options based on my past purchases and on pages that I've viewed on their site. Amazon lets the user zero in on recommendations by giving feedback on the recommendations provided. For example, they are recommending "This Year's Model" by Elvis Costello to me. If I click on "Why recommended?", I learn that it's recommended because I previously purchased "Trust" by Elvis Costello. It lets me refine their recommendations by letting them know that I either already own this title or am not interested. Amazon's contextualization is one of the reasons that they've become a firm fixture in the life of most Americans.
You can emulate Amazon by segmenting your leads by demographic factors and actions they've taken with respect to your inbound marketing. Inbound marketing software like HubSpot let's you segment your leads using "Smart Lists", which are dynamic lead segments based on pre-defined factors. Below, I will detail lead segmentation tactics to improve your email marketing.
1. Segment leads by their responses to your email marketing
Some contacts show initial interest in your marketing by downloading an eBook or other premium content offer. After the initial download, some contacts don't have any futher interest in your marketing. Rather than annoy them by continuing to clutter their inbox, I suggest creating a segment of non-engaged contacts.
I've created a segment in my HubSpot marketing software that is defined as contacts to whom I've sent five or more emails, but they haven't opened any of them. I then use this list as a "suppression list", which means that I stop sending them any more email. Other approaches to these non-engaged contacts could include sending an email to give them a chance to continue receiving email by opting in again. You could also email them much less frequently. In any event, you'll stop annoying these people. The reality is that if they haven't opened any of your emails, they're probably not interested in buying from you.
2. Use segmentation to identify leads that are highly engaged with your marketing
In addtion to identifying contacts that haven't shown interest in your email marketing efforts, it's also a good idea to identify those contacts who are highly engaged. I've created a segment for these leads in my inbound marketing that's defined as contacts to whom I've sent five or more emails and they've clicked through on 3 or more. You can use this segment to send emails linking to blog articles or content offers that are suited for leads that are in the midst of a buying process. You can also use this list to identify leads that are ready for a sales outreach.
3. Segment leads by demographics
Most companies target certain industries as part of their ideal customer profile. Going back to contextualization, your email marketing will be much more successful when you send different targeted emails to insurance agencies and technology companies, for example. On our forms for downloads, we ask a few demographic questions (including industry) and make it easy for people by offering a drop-down menu for response. We can then segement out contacts by industry and personalize our email marketing approach.
Another way that we segment by demographcis is to identify the role of the contact. Again, we offer a drop-down that lets contacts self-identify their roles. This lets us do targeted email marketing to business owners that is different than our approach for sales professionals.
The key to effectively segmenting leads by demographics is to let your software do the work. Here's a quick recipe for demographic segmentation:
- Identify demographics that are important to you (e.g. - industry, location, company size, role of contact.)
- Create questions in your lead generation forms to identify demographics. Use drop-down lists to make it easy for the respondent to complete the form.
- Use smart lists in your inbound marketing software to create the segments.
Contextualizing your email marketing by creating relevant lead segments is a great way to improve the results of your email marketing. It's also a great way to find out which leads are ready for a sales approach. For example, you can combine lists to identify contacts that meet your ideal customer profile and are also highly engaged with your marketing process. By segmenting your contacts and targeting your approach, you'll improve the results of your email marketing.