Targeting e-mail campaigns when your database grows

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Every professional has their own battle cry. For real estate investors, it’s “location, location, location.” Perhaps the most appropriate one for e-mail marketers is “target, target, target.”

When companies see exponential growth of their e-mail database, they run the risk of sending unwanted e-mails to some recipients if they don’t effectively target their campaigns, said Joel Doss, a software sales account representative at Lyris Inc., an Internet marketing solutions company. The best way to avoid that problem is to create highly specific segments within the e-mail list so the messages sent to particular groups are relevant, he said.

Doss offered these tips to help marketing managers hit their targets with a surgical strike:

1. Create meaningful sublists within your database.Find the right demographic information to create a unique sublist for particular campaigns, but also look at online behavior to fine-tune it, Doss said. For example, if you’re planning a targeted e-mail campaign to companies in Colorado, you should be able to get those names on the list easily, he said. To make it more meaningful, consider narrowing the selection to those in Colorado who visited a particular section of your company’s Web site within the last 10 days, he said.

“Your e-mail campaigns will be more successful if you can also target them based on actual interest expressed,” he said.

2. Honor recipients’ preferences. Pay close attention to e-mail surveys that spell out what kind of information people don’t want to receive. “You don’t want to annoy your readership base,” Doss said. “The No. 1 thing that can hurt your e-mail marketing effort is complaints. If you annoy someone with e-mails they don’t want, the best-case scenario is they unsubscribe. The worst case is getting your e-mail flagged as spam.”

3. Make sure your hosting company can perform detailed segmentations of your list. If you’re using a hosted application for your company’s e-mail marketing functions, chances are you won’t have direct access to the data being gathered about individuals on that list, Doss said. Make sure to ask the hosting company if it will assist in drilling down to more specific subgroups within a growing database. “The manager needs to monitor how quickly the new sublist is created,” Doss said. “If it’s not gathering information fast enough, you need to go in and write [or ask for] a more optimized query.”

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