Wednesday, September 02, 2009

7 Ways to Create Relevancy in Emails

People are bombarded with hundreds of email messages each day. However a majority of the emails end up in the trash because of their irrelevance to the recipients.

On Oct 30th, 2008 I write a blog post on relevancy and emails. To state my point I showed an example of an email that John Song received from Nordstrom. John, who had never purchased any women products from Nordstrom, was receiving emails promoting women products.

During our conversation John said that he was a big fan of Nordstrom and was ok with receiving and ignoring irrelevant emails but he wished that they would send him relevant products/offers though.

No matter how big a fan a person is of brand, eventually the patience runs out. Guess what happened recently? John got so tired of the irrelevant emails that he finally hit the small “unsubscribe” link on the email he recently received. Done. Gone. Here is what John wrote on his Facebook status (came via his Twitter update).

Companies work very hard to get people to come to their sites and then to subscribe to their emails. But it appears that not many of them work hard enough to keep these subscribers. Someone (subscriber) who took time to fill a form on the site to subscribe to the email is ready to open his wallet. It is the job of a business to help that person open that wallet and spend that hard earned cash. But it can only happen if the business sells the customer what a customer wants and not what the business needs or wants to sell. Unfortunately, most of the emails consumer get today contain the products that business wants to sell and not necessarily what a customer wants to buy. Below are 7 ways that you can use to create relevancy in your emails and standout from the crowd.

7 ways to create relevancy in the emails
  • Browsing History - Use the subscriber’s onsite browsing history to find out what products he looked at but has not bought yet. This list should give you an idea of his interest. Based on this learning determine what products you should offer in your emails.
  • Email Click Through - Use his past email click-though behavior to determine what peaks his interest. If a customer has shown interests in certain products/contents/offers in past then they are very likely to be interested in similar products/offers/content. Someone who only clicks on discounted is most likely to open an email that says so and also click on a product that is on discount. Use that information to target.
  • Shopping Cart Abandonment - Use the shopping cart abandonment history to determine what products he is interested in. Use the time triggered email to encourage him to come back and finish the process. You can also send offers but be careful (check out Targeting Cart Abandonment by Email.
  • Purchase History - Use his past purchase history to determine what he buys. Use not only online data but also offline, phone order and catalog order data. Make recommendations in the email based on past purchases. E.g. if you know that he buys blue shirts then recommend new blue shirts. Depending on what products your sell you might also send complementary items.
  • Frequency and Recency - How often does the customer come to your site and when was the last time you saw him. Frequency and recency of visit is a strong indicator of a customer’s likelihood of buying from a site. The longer the customer takes to return to your site the more are the chances that you will loose him as a customer. Timing your email message can bring that customer back into buying mode. Use frequency and recency to determine if you need to send a coupon or some other promotion to bring the customer back to the site before it is too late.
  • Help Them Help You – If you do feel you have to send something unrelated to persons interest (e.g. provide him an opportunity to see what else you sell maybe lure him into buying something he might not have considered) then send it along with something relevant to him. E.g. send discount on women apparel along with some discount for men stuff.
  • No Email - If you don’t have anything relevant to send to a customer then please don’t send an email. As mentioned before people are bombarded with irrelevant emails every day, you need to stand out of the crowd and make your email count so don’t send any email if you don’t have anything to offer.
Hope these tips help. Email me if you need help finding the right analytics and email solution.

Questions? Comments?

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1 comment:

  1. Hi Anil

    Great post - relevance is so important, not only to campaign performance, but perhaps more importantly to nurturing a relationship where the recipient appreciates and values your communications.

    There is one missing element to your relevance checklist: timing.

    The timing of your communication directly impacts the relevance to the individual recipient. This is often forgotten by marketers because it is hard to get right. Yet the impact on both open and conversion rates is significant. An email that is immediately triggered by onsite behavior is 3x more effective than one just 24 hours later, and 7x more than 72 hours after the event. there's a post on my blog from February this year which covers this data in more detail here

    From the recipient’s point of view, getting the timing right means that your communication is always in step with the customer dialog. For example, if a visitor abandons a shopping cart, and you email them three days later with a follow up offer, they may have already purchased either from your site, or from a competitors. You are out of step with the customer, and your email is now irrelevant.


I would like to hear your comments and questions.