Email. It’s a technological marvel (bet you haven’t licked a stamp in months, maybe even years!). It’s cheap, fast, scalable, and works whether you’re still dialing into the Internet on a 56k modem or blazing down a fiber-optic highway.
But for consumers, it can also be a source of overwhelm due to overstuffed inboxes. And any business that sends out regular emails has probably wondered “how much is too much?” The answer to that question is complicated. To answer it fully, we’ll outline the steps you should take to build a high-performing email marketing strategy.
The key to email marketing is a process known as segmentation, that allows you to avoid annoying your consumers via email. And we’re going to dive into the details of audience segmentation so that you don’t have to guess what it looks like.
How much email would Goldilocks want?
Email marketing can feel like the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Some organizations send a lot of email. Some send very little. Others send a medium amount. But at the end of the day, they treat their email databases as if nearly everyone wants the same amount.
In reality, consumers aren’t mad when businesses send them emails — as long as they’re interested in what it has to say. They get frustrated and unsubscribe when they receive emails that offer products they don’t want or aren’t even interested in learning about. To restate that another way: the issue with sending too much email is always an issue of relevance
The second factor is frequency. If your marketing strategy permits you to drill deeply into a consumer’s preferences and propensity to buy, you can send exactly the right offers at the right time. But that doesn’t mean they’ll see it right away. Consumers’ inboxes are bombarded with messages every day. If they didn’t open an email the first time around, it’s more likely that they just missed it. Reminding consumers of a product or service that they want is a benefit not an annoyance.
Six steps to running a marketing automation program that gets it “just right.”
By the end of this blog you should have a better sense of how to segment your database into well-defined groups that share similar needs, behaviors, and characteristics. Once you have those segments, you can use marketing automation to deliver the right message to each segment (and even individual consumers) at the right time. The days of giving everyone a papa-bear-sized serving of email are numbered.
1. Learn about who they are and what they want.
The first step is to collect information about who your consumers are and what financial products or services they want. You already have a lot of this data at your fingertips. You begin collecting it when they fill out applications for deposit accounts or loans. Analyzing the most popular products can give you some clues about what people want, but you can also use surveys to gauge interest in yet-to-be-offered products.
For most community financial institutions, their data accumulates in various systems across the organization and the systems may not talk to each other. You’ll need to get data moving easily across your technology ecosystem if you want to build a high-functioning database for audience segmentation.
2. Create profiles based on demographics, propensity, and engagement.
Segmentation is a dynamic process that grows more refined over time. Consumers age, change life stages, develop new financial needs, and abandon others. Ideally you want to have models that measure a consumer’s propensity to purchase a product based on all the data you’ve collected. Building models like this usually require a sophisticated artificial intelligence tool that can digest the data in real time and modify the algorithms when necessary
3. Offer products and services that match what they want.
All the sophisticated marketing technology in the world won’t amount to a hill of free Dumdums if you don’t have the products that consumers are looking for. Consumers want rewards, convenient access to their money, and flexible tools to manage it. If your product suite doesn’t hold up against your competitors’ offerings, it’s time to find new, innovative partners.
4. Create marketing campaigns that match the right offer with people who are most likely to buy it.
Once you’ve created segmentation profiles and assembled the right mix of products, you can begin building marketing campaigns that match them together in a dynamic way. The first step should be to gently educate your consumers and learn their preferences based on how they engage with the educational content.
Obviously, creating a single campaign can be a massive undertaking. You need a marketing technology platform that allows you to build and host campaigns that can be customized for each consumer segment you have.
5. Use marketing automation technology that allows you to send the right offers to the right people at the right time.
As you bring together your segmentation profiles, products, campaign creative, and technology the next step is to deliver the messages to the right consumers at the right time. A robust marketing automation platform will make this process simple, even though the work itself can be very challenging. You can’t expect your marketing team to remember exactly when to send emails and who to send them to. You need automated triggers for emails based on a range of factors, such as birthdays, anniversaries, purchase activities, and more.
6. Continually refine your segmentation profiles so that you’re only sending relevant messages to the best audience and adjusting to their level of engagement.
Every time you segment your audience and customize your marketing messages to their preferences, you build toward a better experience. Consumers will feel like you understand their needs and are working hard to help them achieve their financial goals. You can’t get there by blasting the same offer to the same people over and over again. A good marketing automation platform should help you clean disengaged users from your lists and add newly qualified individuals in as needed.
The right amount of email is different for each person.
Not to be glib, but the answer to “how much?” is “just the right amount for that person”. There isn’t a magic number. However, by building your marketing program on a sound segmentation methodology and combining that with a high-performing marketing platform, you can deliver customized email experiences to your account holders and never worry again about sending too many emails.
Segmentation is crucial to marketing efficacy.
Why should your organization segment your audience for marketing communications? In a nutshell:
- You are better able to discover consumers’ needs.
- You are better able to design your products and offerings to meet those needs.
- You are better able to promote the right offers to the people who want them.
- Your customer satisfaction increases.
Consumers are happier when you market to them based on their needs and preferences:
- It’s more convenient for them to choose offers they want.
- They’re only hearing about products and services that are tailored to their needs.
- The promotions they see feel relevant.
- Their overall experience feels personalized and helpful.
DIY segmentation can lead to marketing that is DOA (dead on arrival).
Even though you can go on YouTube and learn all the steps for swapping your car engine or retiling your bathroom, it doesn’t mean that your results will justify the time, effort, and money. The nightmare scenario is that you get midway through the project and discover that you can’t finish it on your own. With segmentation and email marketing this can spell disaster because you may end up sending zero emails or mistakenly blasting too many of the wrong emails to the wrong people and causing massive unsubscribes and complaints.
Especially when it comes to using consumer segmentation with artificial intelligence you want to leverage the largest dataset you can find. Many community financial institutions just don’t have access to the amount of relevant data necessary to build useful propensity models.
A partner like Kasasa can help you simplify this entire process. You can leverage the sophisticated marketing technology stack that we’ve built precisely for the needs of community financial institutions like yours. And thanks to the 900 institutions and 2+ million account holders that we service, our dataset is on par with the megabanks! Drop us a note, we’d love to show you what our platform can do for you.