Why targeted marketing matters

In our time of email marketing it’s relatively cheap to send a mass message to all of your contacts, and it’s also easier to create a campaign like that, since there’s no effort required to select the most relevant contact list. While this can be valid in some contexts (eg. to a niche list, or to announce an amazing “Everything must go!” discount offer), in general we think it’s much better to tightly target your marketing campaigns, for a whole variety of reasons.

Better engagement. Even with a general message such as “Sale now on!”, you can engage with your customers by applying a hook that will speak to them personally. Let’s say you mainly buy children’s clothes from an online clothing company. A “Sale now on!” email would be welcome, but a more targeted message of “Sale now on! Big discounts on kids’ clothes” is much more likely to engage and interest you, and so much more likely to earn a click-through.

Lower ‘unsubscribe’ rates. Sticking to the same example, an irrelevant promotion for products you never buy, such as “Big discounts on men’s footwear” is probably going to to wear out your inbox goodwill and have you reaching for the ‘unsubscribe’ button. This is a crucial point, because once you’ve unsubscribed, then you’re ‘lost’ to the retailer for all future email marketing. That’s one of the reasons why targeting is so important: it’s essential to the long-term health of the list.

Good for marketing morale. From the point of view of your marketing team, if you send out a ‘broadcast’ email to your whole database, it will probably only be relevant to some recipients, and so might produce disappointing response rates. It’s important to remember how bad that can be for morale within the marketing team, who naturally wish to feel like effective marketeers rather than corporate spammers. On the flip side, a carefully planned and well-targeted campaign will show a much higher response rate – effectively a group ‘thumbs up’ from your customers, and a big feel-good factor for the marketing team who can take pride in a job well done.

Good for your brand. All of these points together add up to a boost for your brand. Customers are people, and people like to feel important, appreciated, and valued. A well targeted message can convey all of this back to the customer, and reassure them that you value their business. If that’s done well enough, you may even start to get a “word of mouth” effect, whereby happy customers may mention your excellent service and relevant emails to friends. Conversely, it’s easy to imagine a customer bad-mouthing your company for bombarding them with irrelevant offers.

The bottom line. While there’s clearly additional up-front cost in obtaining the right tools to support highly targeted segmentation, your sending costs will be lower when targeting smaller groups (and those savings can become very significant if sending printed materials in the mail). And beyond lower sending costs, the financial benefits from happy and engaged customers and low ‘unsubscribe’ rates in the longer term can also be substantial – both directly via new sales, and indirectly via brand benefits.

So in conclusion, targeted marketing isn’t just about keeping down sending costs, there are a whole range of benefits for the customer and for your staff. If your marketing team don’t yet have an easy way to define and select highly targeted lists, it may be time to start thinking about giving them that support.