But how can bulk email newsletters address issues such as personalisation and segmentation?
Initially, this seems like a contradiction in terms: newsletters are a mass media, like television news. They both cover numerous issues and are distributed to a broad range of recipients, who are almost impossible to influence or persuade.
On the other hand, the success of email marketing – like all marketing – depends on how relevant the content is to the recipient’s individual interests. This is what we call successful segmentation or personalisation.
Divide your recipients into different groups or segments that make strategic sense in your area of business. The segmentation can take into account gender, age, willingness to pay, personal interests, purchased products or product groups, and a whole lot more. Use these segments to develop different strategies or to decide which content has the highest degree of relevance in each segment.
This kind of segmentation will help you answer the question: “What should I communicate to whom?”
Tip: ask yourself this question twice. Many companies fall into the trap of sending too much information to too many recipients, lured by the low CPT (cost per thousand). But often, less is more.
When it comes to personalisation, many companies think this means adding a personalised salutation, such as “Dear Mr Smith”. That may well be part of it, but to return to my television news analogy, this means nothing more than the presenter looking into the camera and saying “I’m talking to you!” No-one would think that the presenter is actually referring to them personally.
Personalisation should do more: beyond the salutation, the formality of the language should be adjusted depending on the age group or the recipient’s membership in a loyalty programme; the email timing should be determined based on certain customer data; and content such as individual product or service recommendations should be integrated. The sender (including the reply address) shown could be the recipient’s assigned customer service employee, account manager or the head of the nearest sales outlet.
This kind of personalisation will help you answer the question: “How do I address the various different recipients?”
If you want to segment your content and personalise the email accordingly, you should send content at different times to individualised subsets of the entire potential recipient pool. However, it’s worth pointing out that if your segmentation is too high, your newsletter may be reduced to a single-topic email.
A newsletter will never be a master of segmentation. Quite the opposite – it should present different topics of general appeal to a broad, mixed audience in an attractive way, and the sender should be able to measure its effectiveness. This becomes very difficult if your recipients are too fragmented.
Learn from the reactions of your readers, such as clicks, conversions and the reasons people provide when they unsubscribe. This information will tell you which topics are particularly well received. A newsletter should help you evaluate your content and better understand the needs of your readership, so that you can further develop your segment profiles.
But don’t forget to take advantage of the best of both worlds.
Use dedicated emails for easily segmented or particularly important topics (single topic or dedicated mail-outs). These will help you and your readers to evaluate the relevance of a particular email.
Email marketing means sending messages to targeted segments, and is therefore much more than just mailing a newsletter to everyone.