“Well, I think the last time I looked we had 15,000 email addresses.”
During a recent conference with a prospect, the marketing director revealed she had a great knack for collecting contact information. Her company participated in multiple trade shows each year and had thousands of customers. They struggled to create a B2B email campaign to effectively reach these 15,000 contacts.
We briefly discussed some options for segmenting these email addresses into categories important to her company: retailer vs wholesaler, size of customer, frequence of purchase, geographical location, size of purchase, etc.
But how, exactly, do you sort through a data list of this size (or even larger) with any effectiveness? For SMBs with lists of 500 or even 2500, while it would take some time, it’s possible to manually segment these addresses, but for a list of 10K+, not so much.
With a little research, we’ve been able to create a strategy we’re sharing with you.
Start with your goals
First know why you are segmenting your email addresses. Common goals might be:
- Increase open rate
- Increase click-through rate
- Increase website conversions
- Send more targeted emails to smaller groups
- Provide more relevant content to specific groups
Ask for preferences
What topics do you plan to address in your emails? While many companies send promotional/sales messages, readers tire of being sold to and often trash sales only emails–especially coming from B2B companies. Can you offer industry news, company updates, tips & tricks? Create a list of the types of emails you want to offer and the types of businesses they would apply to. We suggest not more than 5-7 options.
Divide your list into groups of those who have bought from your company and those who have not. You may also divide further by the types of products they bought, where you picked up their email address and their geographic region if necessary.
Create a series of specific emails for each of these groups and make sure each email address is only in one group. Introduce your new email campaign and explain how it will benefit the reader. Then ask your readers to identify which types of emails they would like to receive. You might even offer a prize for responses or have your responders be entered to win a larger prize.
You won’t get everyone to respond. Expect it. But those who do respond are likely to be hotter prospects and more interested in your emails.
Get rid of the bad addresses
This one hurts. Your bounce rate (all those email addresses that just aren’t any good anymore) hurts your rating with the email hosting companies like Google, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc. On the flip side, it hurts you psychologically to delete email addresses. Brace yourself. It must be done.
Start with the email addresses your provider has identified as bounced. Create a spreadsheet and send it out to your sales team. If any of these contacts are current customers they may have updated contact information. Next move on to contacts who have not opened an email in the last six months. Separate those for a re-engagement campaign. You may also consult the sales department about these contacts for some help on how to best reach specific contacts.
Re-engage inactive contacts
Contacts become inactive for a number of reasons. Sometimes it’s because they have changed positions and are no longer the purchasing contact for your product. Sometimes it’s because they are simply busy and haven’t taken time to read promotional emails. In the first instance, if you can identify these you can work to get the newest contact’s information. In the second, you have a chance to redeem yourself with content so relevant they WANT to listen. Easier said than done, right?
Start by thinking about what attracts the attention of your buyers. What problems are facing them everyday that you can solve? Create a case study that details how your company, product or service solved a major problem for one of your customers. Frame the conversation as “Are you having problems with XYZ? So did ABC Corp. Here’s how they found a long-term solution.” At this point, you don’t have to sell anything, the goal is to re-engage them through email.
Create a plan going forward
How do you collect email addresses? Forms on your website? Trade shows? Cold calls from sales? However you collect them, think about the most important information you need to help segment them better. Include a request for that information on the initial intake form. Send a “Welcome” email when the contact is entered into the database and ask what types of email communication they’d like to receive. Respondents are more likely to open just after the contact has been made rather than months later.
Outline the types of emails your contacts requested and create a schedule for sending out those emails. Look back through past email reports to determine 3-5 specific best days and times for sending emails. Restrict your email sends to those dates and times. Create specific templates for each type of email and each segment. Restrict all emails to those templates. Once you have a handle on your email list and you’ve seen increased deliverability, opens and clicks, you can start A/B testing to determine best send times, templates, subject lines, etc.
Having a large email database sounds like a great idea, until you need to make sure each recipient receives the most relevant information. Without a real plan to reach those recipients and to create quality content, your email campaigns will lack the depth they need to really make the most of your database.