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Email blasts, segmentation remain as two equal players

NEW YORK – Executives advocating for email marketing at ad:tech New York spoke on the pros and cons of segmentation and email blasts, claiming both can still be valuable.

Rob Graham, CEO of Trainingcraft, and Dave Hendricks, president of LiveIntent, spoke on certain instances when segmentation or blasts are a better fit at driving a response from recipients at the “Death of Email Blasts” session. Mr. Hendricks, who advocated for the use of blasts in certain situations, said segmentation is not always reliable due to old data.

“The statement that says ‘email blasts are dead’ is highly exaggerated,” Mr. Hendricks said. “People are going to continue to use mass, broad methods of communication for the foreseeable future as long as there is a message that appeals to a large group.

“People are going to use brute force tactics to deliver that message,” he said. “While I think there is a place for segmenting, I think that the death of email blasts has been deemed prematurely.”

Ongoing battle
Mr. Hendricks and Mr. Graham used the session on email marketing to go back and forth and point out the shortcomings of each argument.

While Mr. Hendricks focused more on universal goods that appeal to a large group of people, Mr. Graham claimed that messages must align with the needs and expectations of the audience.

Mr. Hendricks pointed out certain items, such as socks, hats and umbrellas, which are used by a large consumer base. He believes that for these types of items, segmented emails are not needed.

Mr. Graham said that broad messages do not work because they do not take into consideration the needs and wants of each consumer.

“There are plenty of things out there that I’m not going to buy,” Mr. Graham said. “There will be items that come up on my radar that I’m not going to be interested in.”

In response, email marketers should collect data about each customer and deliver targeted messages to them based on their needs and wants.

Mr. Hendricks responded by referencing Apple’s marketing efforts and news coverage on the recent midterm elections. Apple is able to maintain a very simple ecosystem of marketing. The company delivers one mass message upon the release of new products, and that tactic seems to work for Apple.

Furthermore, election news was delivered in mass distribution.

Mr. Hendricks pointed out the lack of predictability that comes with consumers. Information about each consumer is always changing. When email marketers use customer data, there is great possibility that data is old, because users are not frequently updating their preferences following initial email subscription.

Marketers are dealing with a limited set of customer knowledge, and they can be linear when they use that data.

Email messages should have reason to be delivered. Marketing is really just about communicating and trying to get consumers to do something in response.

While marketers will never know everything about their customers, a balance of both segmentation and blasts is likely a thorough strategy to use.

Rethinking email
While email has managed to stay afloat during a technology revolution, it has become imperative that promotional emails must be targeted and truly relevant to each recipient.

Travel company Apple Vacations took some much-needed time to renovate its email program recently to increase its engagement percentage by segmenting its system, said an Apple Vacations executive member during a session at eTail East 2014. For a significant change to take place, the marketing team began by breaking down categories of each email subscriber to get a better idea of how to target its customers (see story).

National steakhouse chain Texas Roadhouse has acquired 60,000 subscribers to its mobile database in one year via a variety of loyalty call-to-actions.

The Western-themed eatery has taken a location-specific approach to building relationships with diners at their preferred locality through email and SMS communication strategies the past year. Texas Roadhouse partnered with Vibes to execute its efforts (see story).

In support of these efforts, Mr. Graham believes that broad email efforts contain many inefficiencies. Optimizing email campaigns brings forth much more opportunity.

“If you’re sending out garbage emails to anyone that has an at symbol somewhere in their email address, are you doing a good job of reaching the right people with the right message?” Mr. Graham said.

Final Take
Caitlyn Bohannon is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York