Effective email campaigns require two critical elements: good list hygiene and an understanding of customer preferences. These elements form the foundation for a successful email program.  Below are some quick tips for building and maintaining a good email list and recommendations on how to capture customer preferences so that you’re able to deliver relevant and effective email marketing messages to your audience.

Good List Hygiene

Regardless of how well an email is crafted, if it’s not making it to the inbox, it has no impact. Current statistics show that more than 25% of email addresses churn per year. Therefore, no matter how clean your initial list, it is imperative that you have a process in place that manages and removes bounce-backs and inactive addresses.

Are your email addresses accurate? Have they been updated? Are your prospects and customers still receiving communications at their listed email addresses? If not, ISPs will notice that you consistently send messages to bad addresses.  Left unmanaged, this will have a direct impact on your organization’s ability to deliver email to any customer’s inbox.  Moreover, if a significant percentage of your emails are not being delivered, your marketing ROI will be negatively impacted; the CPM rate you pay to your ESP doesn’t discern between delivered and undelivered email.

There are a number of steps you can take to ensure your list is clean and up-to-date:

–  Send a triggered opt-in confirmation email while collecting addresses. This confirms that the address is active, and gives you the opportunity to explain what communications the recipient should expect to receive from you.

–  Don’t assume your customers abandoned you intentionally.  Consider auto-generating a postcard to the corresponding postal address requesting that the customer provide you with an updated email address so they don’t miss out on future communications.

–  If customers continuously do not open their emails, try something different – send to them on different days, change the subject lines, or reduce frequency.

– If you don’t have success with any of the above tips, establish a timeframe for removing inactive and/or invalid addresses that bounce from your database. ISPs are increasingly measuring engagement, i.e., how many people read or click on your emails.  Removing inactive addresses keeps engagement measurements high.

 Collecting Customer Preferences

Collecting and utilizing customer preferences allows you to create more relevant email communications by providing your customers with (only) the information they want- when they want it.

Customer preferences help you understand two key things: your customer’s specific interests, and their preferred method(s) and frequency of receiving information. Your goal is to leverage this information and create relevant messages that speak to your customers as individuals.  In short, you are aligning your messages to the topics they find most important, and delivering those messages at the times and frequency they find most appropriate. One of the easiest ways to do this is to provide customers with the ability to share this information with you in an online preference capture page.

Once you collect customer preference information, you should marry it to the activity and behaviour data you’re already tracking: who opened what, which links did they click, what are they buying, and how often are they buying.  Understanding these inferred preferences will enable you to further refine your messaging to create relevant and targeted communications to drive even greater results.

Take a look at how a resort might use the information they’ve been able to gather on past guests. This particular resort has both a golf course and spa facilities on-site, which means they will likely have the information to determine if a guest previously booked a tee time, a spa appointment, or both. The resort can then use that information to create offer messages that can be personalized based upon this past behaviour.

It’s possible that the same resort, based on past customer behaviour and inferred preferences, may be able to easily determine if a guest is more likely to be interested in a “romantic getaway” or a “Kids Stay Free” promotion.  Is a guest more likely to respond to the promise of a luxury, ocean-view experience, or discounted off-peak offer?  Again, the beauty of email communications is that they can be dynamically personalized based on preference information to achieve greater relevancy, increase engagement and increased revenue.

Remember, if you’re asking customers for preference information; use the information to tailor your communications.  The only thing that is worse than communicating generically to customers is to ask them about their preferences and then ignore what they tell you. Incorporated correctly, the use of preference centres to understand your customers is one of the easiest ways to improve relevancy, engender customer engagement and, in turn, improve marketing ROI.

Michael Thompson

Michael Thompson


Michael Thompson is the Director of Deliverability and ISP Relations atClickSquared.