The average web user enters their birthday into forms hundreds or thousands of times, yet rarely do they receive a birthday card from a marketer. Email marketers should understand that demographically keyed email marketing should go far beyond even commemorating birthdays, but to derive as much leverage as possible from the standard and behavioral data collected from the customer.

Some Demographics Are Diametrically Opposite

If customer A is a 70 year old female and customer B is a 20 year old male, it is fairly evident that the only thing they share is the number of chromosomes. The interests, preferences, and even the attention span of the two customers is diametrically opposite. If an email marketer does not adequately differentiate between the two and “batch & blasts” them both, it is likely neither customer is going to respond as strongly as they should have, had the message been properly keyed to their demographic.

Megan Fox vs. Pat Boone

It is important to not look at demographic keying in a strictly superficial fashion. It’s obvious that the products pitched should vary: A state of the art do-everything mobile phone for the young man and an ultra-basic mobile with extra large buttons for the older woman. However, leveraging demographic keying goes beyond the age-specificity of the product to the entire essence of the message. If you really want to grab the young male, have the email feature a celebrity endorsement by Megan Fox, but if you truly want the older woman to react positively, the celebrity should be Pat Boone.

Focus On Your Customer’s Teen Years

Demographic Keying is a scalpel not a chainsaw. The stratification of age groups is much more finely grained than just: “kids, teens, young adults, middle aged, senior citizens.” A 60 year old man might get teary eyed if your email plays an audio file by The Association or Spanky & Our Gang, but might consider ABBA or Donna Summer a turnoff. It seems that many people “pattern” to what they were predominantly exposed to in their mid teens, so if you want to find the right hook for any age group, just check their birth years and add 16. Research what the prevailing trends were that year in culture, entertainment, and current events, then craft your email marketing program to incorporate those trends while honoring them.

Properly keying in to some of these triggers present in society when your customer was 16 years old can drive response rates:

  • Popular movies, TV shows & music
  • Highly significant current events
  • Styles: automotive, fashion, architectural
  • Prominent foods & beverages
  • Personalities, celebrities & athletes
  • Crises, natural disasters, conflicts
  • Don’t Stereotype

A fine balance must be achieved where the demographic is noted but not stereotyped. If the older female’s message resembles a still from Leave It To Beaver, and the young male’s looks like a frame from Avatar, the marketer has exaggerated. Not all 70 year old women attend quilting bees and not all 20 year old males go clubbing. Subtlety should be the key. The customer must believe that perhaps each of your customers are receiving the same email, and think “oh look, this really suits me!”

Email marketing has to evolve from an equalizing steamroller to a nurturer of micro-markets. Recognizing and celebrating the demographic stratification present in your customer base is the first step towards implementing greater email marketing sensitivity.