Email marketing is all about segmentation and relevant messaging, right? If you separate your prospects into different segments, and communicate with each segment according to their differences, more prospects will respond, right?
Well sort of….
There is one other element to consider. And that other element is context. But I’ll get to that in minute. First, I want to tell you about an email that I received last week while I was in the office at work; an email that caught me completely off guard; an email that was actually awkward to read at work.
You see, I work in the technology industry – software, to be precise. So when I receive unsolicited email, they’re usually about technologies and practices around technologies. But last week, I received an email that caught me completely off-guard, because it had absolutely nothing to do with my business. The email was an offer for me to buy pre-paid cremation services.
That’s right – cremation services. Not your typical backup-in-the-cloud or information security solicitation that technology professional receive. This particular solicitation came from a company that wanted to tell me how they’ll take care of my remains on some distant day.
So far as I could tell, the marketer of the cremation sevices used the following two criteria to form a segment: Locality and Mortality.
- Locality: A company that I work for is based in San Francisco. The provider of these cremation services is in San Francisco, and saw me as a “local” prospect.
- Mortality: All humans are mortal. All mortals eventually die. Anyone who dies is a good prospect for cremation. Somehow, they knew I’m a human, and therefore, I’ll eventually be a good prospect for cremation services.
So, while the segmentation was properly defined (people in the San Francisco area who will someday die) and the message was on target (an offer that fit the segment), the context was way wrong. They delivered the message in a place that didn’t fit. People don’t think about cremation while they’re at work. Cremation is a more personal thing. Email me away from work, when my mind is ready to consider personal matters.
So I clicked “unsubscribe.” Then I clicked “delete.”
So here’s the point:
You may have good data. And you may sort that data into good segments. But if you deliver your message in a way that will be received out of context, you risk becoming worse than irrelevant; you risk alienating your prospects.
To really maximize your response rate, and to establish trust and credibility through your email marketing, follow these three steps:
- Segment your market using multiple data elements.
- Deliver relevant messages alligned to each segement.
- Deliver the messages in the right context; in a time and place where they’ll be best received.
Don’t be caught dead delivering an email out of context. I can leave your prospect feeling very awkward.