I have been speaking alot about segmenting data recently and have had quite a lot of feedback asking for a simple action plan to help in segmenting and targeting communications for smaller businesses.

I have put together this 6 step plan to help you develop relationship centric emails and messaging.

1. Identify your key segments

Look at your customer base and identify some common traits – ideally throguh data collected.

  • Do you have a mainly female audience? Or certain age-groups? Company size? Location? How you make people feel?
  • Does your list contain both prospects and customers (and what sub segments exist within these)?
  • You should be able to identify at least 3 key segments for your business.  If you have a lot of segments, consider which ones are most profitable for your business or represent the greatest opportunity. This is where to focus your initial efforts and you can combine segments to make things more manageable in the early days.
  • If you don’t have this data – it may be worth doing a simple survey or sendign an email out that encourages recipietns to segment themsleves like this one from Costa.

2. Understand their drivers

Why they do / would do business with you?

  • How do you make them feel? What value to you add to their business / life? Why do they choose you over someone else?
  • Really get inside their heads and understand what is is about you that makes them want to use your products and services.
  • Again if you’re not sure a simple survey will help, it can be a good excuse to pick up the phone too.
  • Make sure you can identify the different segments in your data, maybe using grouping or tagging or through field values. 

3. Define goals for each segment

What do you want to each of these segments to do?

  • This isn’t as simple as buy from you in most cases.  You need to ask yourself about their motivations and what are the steps on their journey to purchase? This may be useful to inform a targeted nurture campaign. For example, if you are a yoga teacher targeting older women, your goal may be for them to see you as a helpful resource during the menopause
  • Are you looking for referrals or reviews from current clients? If you have loyal custoemrs, ask them for a review or referral. You can simply ask or you can incentivise (but be careful how you do this to remain ethical and legal). 

4. Create a communications plan

For each segment create messaging that addresses their drivers and moves them towards the goals you have for them.

  • This may be triggered communications (more timely and generally more relevant) but newsletters have their place. The yoga teacher mentioned above could create content around hormonal changes and exercises to help – a specific email series or download would work well. 
  • Ensure content is targeted and consider if you’d be better producing 2 or 3 versions of one newsletter or using dynamic content blocks to offer something more relevant. A simple way I use dynamic content with clients is an first purchase offer for prospects versus a referral / review request or value added content for customers.
  • The messaging you choose must focus on the recipient and not on your business. If looking for reviews, include a link  to exactly where so people don’t have to look you up. Always put yourslef in their shoes (anyone who knows me well realises this is my favourite saying!)

5. Execute

Technology is an enabler and it is wonderful but there are lots of fab things we don’t ever use and simple things we can do more with. When it comes to execustion, choose the right partner for you. 

  • Look at the email service provider that suits you best in terms of the pricing structure, features and functionality they offer.
  • Make sure you can do what you want within the package you have chosen – but also that your provider is scalable and will help you fulfill your overall programme goals and that you will get the reporting you need!
  • Free services are great but seldom offer great features like triggered messaging which I think is a must for any email marketer

6. Test and Refine

Ongoing optimisation is key to the long-term success of your email marketing.

  • There is a great quote from Mike Dukta “Success isn’t permanent and failure isn’t fatal”
  • Test everything including subject lines, copy, creative, calls to action and messaging.
    Look beyond opens and clicks to conversions, engagement over time and ratios to truly understand how people are engaging and what they love (and hate) about you!
  • Don’t be afraid to break best practice rules as a test if you think it’ll work better with your audience and always be prepared to be surprised by recipient behaviour.

This is the beginning of the journey and your customers, your business and technology is constantly evolving. You must tweak things continually to continually drive value and sometimes the slightest change can make the biggest difference.

Short on time? Start with one segment and really target your messaging for them.

Are you a photographer with a key audience – yes you can photograph anything but what is your most profitable segment (weddings / family portraits)?  Is your USP the simplicity and ease you offer clients (think Canva) or do people engage because of your brand personality (think Innocent)?  Match your messaging with your segment and their motivations to work with you.

If you’d like help segmenting your data or developing your email strategy then call me on 01707 258 959 to find out how I can help.