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8 Building Blocks of Email Relevance
Home Computers & Technology Email
By: Mike Weston Email Article
Word Count: 1162 Digg it | it | Google it | StumbleUpon it


Marketers, it's time to put down the fire hose. Your email subscribers are more sophisticated today and more particular about what they want to receive - and it's not a steady stream of undifferentiated messages blasted relentlessly to a mass audience. What do email subscribers want instead?

Customized messages that:

*resemble conversations rather than lectures or sales pitches

*are personalized to reflect their interests, needs and wants

*arrive at logical intervals

*reflect their buying history, click stream data or their position in the customer lifecycle.

Need a number to back up this statement?

According to a 2008 report from Forrester Research, "The top reason for unsubscribing from marketing messages was irrelevance: An overwhelming 74% of consumers unsubscribe for this reason."

Are your email messages relevant, or are they just more noise in the inbox?

How Relevance Builds a Stronger Email Marketing Program

Highly relevant email messages strengthen your marketing program in three key ways:

* Increase customer/subscriber retention

*Create higher return on investment through more customer engagement and lower email list churn

*Improve email deliverability by reducing unsubscribes and spam complaints

Besides the benefit that higher relevance brings to your email marketing program, consider what your competitors are doing. Your customers who unsubscribe or simply ignore your broadcast email messages might well be taking their business to a competitor whose messages are more relevant.

Maybe you think: "My subscribers opted in to receive email from me, so anything I send is relevant." True relevance is more complex. It actually has four dimensions: "The right message to the right person at the right time in the right channel."

A successful messaging program is not just you talking at your audience, it’s a conversation. Your email subscribers are telling you something in many different ways – even by not responding. You must be able to listen to those responses and figure out a way to process them so that the next part of the communication takes into account what they’ve told you.

The integration of analytics tools in email management software allows you to keep both ears open in the conversational cycle and thus create more relevant messages.

Relevance in Action: Matches Fashion (UK) Trigger Email - Matches

Matches is a high-end fashion retailer and Lyris client with some high street stores in the UK and an important online retail channel. It's using triggered messages in an incredibly powerful application of email marketing.

Suppose you're looking for a particular item, and it happens to be out of stock in your size. If Matches later takes a replacement delivery of that item, it can generate an email to you, listing the item, size, price and estimated shipping date and ask if you're still interested.

That kind of triggered messaging - which can be set up to generate email messages automatically - can give you open, click and conversion rates that are dramatically higher than a standard, one-size-fits-all email message typically achieves.

8 Building Blocks of Relevance

Upgrading your email marketing program from a simple broadcast model - sending a single message to every address on your mailing list - to a differentiated program can seem like a daunting task, but every step you take will lead you closer to the goal of a relevant conversation. Keep in mind, you don’t have to tackle everything at once - take it one step at a time!

1. Content relevance: The look and feel of your online presence is consistent across all your marketing channels, from email messages to landing pages, your Web site and your mobile initiatives.

2. Welcome program: Engage email subscribers at the start of the relationship. Restate subscription details, manage expectations for content and frequency, provide links to FAQs, privacy policy, and other subscriptions, and invite subscribers back to your site. This also sets up to opportunity to gather information to start populating your preference center.

3. Preference Center: Subscribers have one-click access to a page where they can customize for content, format, frequency and channel, manage their subscriptions and account information, and opt in and out of message streams. This also provides the richer data that you will use for advanced personalization and segmentation.

4. Personalization: Using the information collected via your preference center, your messages employ dynamic content, reflecting subscriber interests, preferences, buying history and demographics.

5. Segmentation: Using preference, click stream and buying data you create a variety of message streams that reflect subscriber interest in different brands, products, purchase frequency, average order value and other factors.

6. Customized trigger and drip campaigns: Customer actions launch these messages automatically (see the previous Matches example), whether by a purchase, a data point such as a birthday or purchase anniversary, or an inaction including an abandoned shopping cart, or email reactivation program sent to subscribers who haven't acted on messages for a set time. Drip campaigns reflect the customer's place in the purchase cycle with content designed to answer questions and move the customer closer to a purchase.

7. Transactional emails: These are some of the most relevant and thus most acted-on emails and should be customized to reflect the action taken, such as a purchase or customer-support inquiry, account payment, subscription or cancellation, shipping or out-of-stock notice. Take the opportunity to up sell or cross sell customers on related items, offer them added value, update their preferences, make referrals, or take a survey on how you can improve their customer experience.

8. Unsubscribe program: Subscribers can easily opt out of message streams but are also given other options: change email address, change frequency or move to another communication channel (RSS feed, mobile, social network, direct mail).

Wrapping Up: Relevance and Your Marketing Budget

These days, many people are thinking they need to make their marketing budgets work harder for them. They're spending this money anyway, so they are seeking a better return.

Relevance is the key to those better returns: you have already identified people who are your customers or prospects through acquisition. You now have a much stronger opportunity to persuade them to do business with you again. You can do without having to pay the financial penalty of acquiring them again.

Relevance is the compelling path to growing your business.

Mike Weston is VP UK & EMEA Sales for Lyris. He's a leading figure and a regular speaker on the London digital marketing scene, with a particular focus on customer communication tools including email marketing and social media marketing.

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