Segment or alienate: Is your email list costing you goodwill?

email-segmentationI have a confession to make. Last night I used a second email address to ‘scam’ a food delivery business.

It was all part of a protest and it inspired today’s article about getting smarter with the way we send mass emails in our marketing.

If you are still mass sending emails from software like Microsoft Outlook, you are not only possibly inching closer to being blocked on the internet as a spammer but you are quite likely treating email as a one size fits all solution, which it is NOT.

The food scam

My wife received an email from a food delivery service we use sometimes, offering a $10 off discount last night.

It was perfect timing, given the state of domestic chaos with birthday parties and school preparation running us ragged; so we ordered.

But as we got to the payment page and entered the coupon code, we were rejected because the offer was for FIRST TIME CUSTOMERS ONLY.

Let me state for the record my pet hatred towards offers for ‘first time customers’.

I think such campaigns are lazy and risk making existing customers feel bad because they are:

  • excluded from a special offer
  • fools for paying full price

So, as a protest, I registered as a new user at the same address, used the coupon code and got the discount.

No segmentation and small print: How to poison the well

The twin insights from this will hopefully be of use to you as you plan future promotions.

Firstly, advertising special offers and putting exclusions in really small print might meet the letter of the law but to this consumer they smack of being disingenuous.

Nobody gains when a potential or existing customer gets drawn into the ordering process only to be excluded after investing time and consideration.

In fact, I would argue it damages the relationship.

Secondly, advertising special offers directly to people who you KNOW are excluded is at best incompetent and at worst deceptive.

All this advertiser had to do was EXCLUDE existing customers from this email; even if arranged through a third party, a segmented list could easily have been sent.

Segmentation is when users in your email database have fields of extra information such as:

  • existing customer
  • date of last order
  • particular interests (Canon, Nikon, Olympus or Vegetarian, Meat Eater, Vegan)

By using an email service provider like MailChimp, which is free for accounts with less than 2,000 entries, you can not only send mass email safely (MailChimp makes sure you do not appear to be a spammer) and get to see exactly who is opening your emails, but you can easily select only certain TYPES of customers to get a particular email.

For example, your database might contain a mixture of prospective customers and existing customers. In MailChimp, your first step in sending a mass email is to choose its audience, so you would select to send ONLY to people who DO NOT have a customer number or a date of last order. Then you could send your ‘first time’ offer with less risk.

Likewise, a camera retailer I worked with many years ago, found their email campaigns became much more successful once they began segmenting their email campaigns by Preferred Brand.

This meant that Canon people only got emails about Canon offers, Nikon people got Nikon, etc.

I believe segmentation is not only smart and efficient but also shows respect to your audience.

If you haven’t signed up for these Marketing Mind articles to be sent to your email address, why not register for them and you will see we give you control of the segmentation.

Our MailChimp form lets you choose whether you want our Monday Marketing articles or our WordPress Wednesday articles, or both.

Enjoy composing new emails with the freedom of speaking more directly to a more specific audience; it should be more powerful for everyone!



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