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Segmented email: How to overcome bulking and improve results

Email marketers work really hard to get their email campaigns out the door. We’ve all witnessed email marketers struggling through the numerous back and forths with copywriting and creative departments, as well the reporting and follow-up after the send. One less-discussed challenge stems from management’s pressure on email marketers to reach as big a list of recipients as possible.

Yet, savvy email marketers realize that distributing to a large list can put them at risk of bulking. That is, having your email delivered to junk folders or not at all as a punishment by Internet Service Providers (ISP) for sending too much email or email with low engagement.

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If you’ve ever visited the soft bounces report in your email service provider (ESP), you can see the result of bulking. Dozens of emails that never reach their destination—often caused by ISPs penalizing email marketers for trying to contact too many people at once.

Overcoming email bounces

Fortunately, there is a simple solution to bulking: Segmentation. Aka. sending more targeted emails to smaller lists.

And email segmentation has other benefits too. MailChimp, one of our more common ESP integration partners, states that, on average, a segmented email outperforms non-segmented email by the following:

  • Opens: 14.3% higher
  • Clicks: 85.7% higher
  • Abuse reports: 6% lower
  • Unsubscribes: 9.9% lower

So why aren’t we always segmenting email campaigns if the statistics behind them are so good? Well, it used to take lots of extra work to manually divide up email lists. And email nurturing tools emerging over the last 10 or so years only offered simple heuristics for automatically segmenting (e.g. if recipient clicks on X, send them Y).

Smarter email segmentation

With the advent of Customer Data Platforms (CDP) that automatically make complex segmentation easy, there’s no excuse to not send more targeted emails to smaller lists. One retailer using the Lytics CDP recently began investing in more heavily segmented email campaigns and saw an immediate payoff: 17% increase in email revenue in their first segmented campaign.

Here’s how they did it.

First, they took advantage of Lytics’ behavioral segments and broke their list into two broad audience segments: Highly engaged and unengaged.

Next, they decided to exclude the unengaged audiences from receiving mailings that week. The unengaged audience hadn’t opened or clicked any of the last 25 campaigns, nor had they visited the site in a long time. Thus, our client wasn’t losing much in terms of revenue by holding them out from their normal mailings. In fact, sending too much email to this group may have risked bulking by some of the ISPs.

For their engaged audiences, they broke their audience into three key segments based on their prior shopping habits:

  • T-shirt shoppers
  • Button-up shirt shoppers
  • Private-label collection shoppers

The client used Lytics to build all of the segments, which flowed seamlessly into MailChimp. Their ran their first test campaign, an additional email to the engaged segments beyond their normal cadence. The results immediately paid off.

For the engaged audience segment:

  • Open rates for the engaged segments ranged from 42 - 54%.
  • Click-through rates ranged from 11 - 20%.
  • Revenue from this group was 17% higher than usual.

For the unengaged group, the opens and clicks were obviously much lower, but the targeted mailing helped our client regain engagement with more than 1,500 email subscribers who had not responded to an email in months! These subscribers were shaken back to activity via a more targeted mailing based on their engagement pattern—resulting in 1,700 visits and a handful of e-commerce orders.

Get in touch

With results like these, we encourage all of our clients to use their Customer Data Platform to build smarter, more targeted segments for email campaigns.

If you’re not segmenting email by engagement levels, you’re likely leaving revenue on the table—both by emailing your engaged audience too infrequently and your unengaged audiences too frequently.

And with Lytics’ built-in behavioral scoring, it’s not nearly as hard as it sounds. Ask your Lytics Customer Success representative how to get started!

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