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Hal Licino

The Importance of Segmenting & Testing Your Email Subscribers

Oct 23 2012, 10:01 AM by

Even in the midst of the greatest technological revolution in human history, anachronisms continue to rear their nostalgic heads: There are some people who still drive 1960s cars with huge V8 engines getting an MPG per cylinder; television viewers who watch black and white sets; and writers who continue to use IBM Selectric typewriters. The equivalent of these retro-folks in the online marketing world are the brands that stubbornly resist segmenting and testing their email lists. Treating your subscribers as a homogeneous whole is a fundamental fallacy as you are ignoring how different categories view your brand and that translates to losing sales. Lots of sales.
List Segmentation Is Different for Every Company
The essence of list segmentation is simple common sense: In any product or service offering there will be people who will be more interested in one type of product or approach than others. The customer who has visited your site to review all the $10,000+ Rolex wristwatches is not likely going to be interested in a $20 Timex, and vice versa. There are various ways to segment your list and all should be taken into consideration. Some online marketers may find that a demographic or a geographic segmentation will bear more sales success than a behavioral sift, while others will rely exclusively on what a customer’s browsing and checkout history is while considering age, gender and location as superfluous and irrelevant. There are no two companies that are the same and that factor also applies in list segmentation, as every marketer has to make those decisions based on their own perspective on the data.
A Poor Area May Carry an IP from a Rich One
Demographic and geographic segmentation are based on the data sets that you can most easily garner from a subscriber. A simple question as to age and gender in your Preference Center or as a prerequisite to filling out a form that provides them access to an incentive or prize drawing and you’ve deftly handled the demographic aspect. As for geography, you can add a simple question to ask the subscriber to fill in their zip code or you can take the high tech direction and capture their IP in order to resolve their location. Beware that the latter method is ripe with inaccuracy as many online individuals who reside in rural areas will carry an IP from their nearest major city, even if it is hundreds of miles away. The lowest income zip code in the United States is 05501 in Andover, MA but it’s most likely that internet users from that town have a Boston IP which may correspond to a zip code such as 02116: One of the nation’s richest codes.
Cookies Are Becoming Crustulum Non Grata
Behavioral data on your subscribers is highly sought after for email list segmentation purposes but it is not necessarily the easiest to obtain. Checkout info is easy as all that needs to be done is to correlate your sales data with your list, but browsing insight can be considerably more difficult. Unless you require a login to access your entire product offering site areas you can’t rely on cookies alone to provide that information. Not only are cookies becoming increasingly Crustulum Non Grata in many jurisdictions (including the entire European Union) but with the popularity of various crumb sweepers like CCleaner and default cookies-off options, the tracking can be ethereal at best.

Once you have your subscribers slotted in as to their categories, the time has arrived to test incessantly. Testing for online marketers is an endless task as there has never been a business in the history of the internet that can be singled out as having tested too much. Testing provides the critical information you need in order to determine the efficiency of your overall email marketing campaign. If you do not have access to the variables that make your email missives effective (or ineffective) you are just blundering around in the dark without a clue as to how your subscribers are reacting (or ignoring) your content. So commit to segmenting and testing in order to truly validate your subscribers!

Posted in Tips & Resources, Lists & Signup Forms

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