According to a OnePoll.com survey, 70% of us regularly send texts and emails to the wrong people. The worrying word here is ‘regularly’.
This isn’t a post about accidentally sending raunchy messages to your mum, but it does highlight the point that when it comes to targeting our messages to the right people, we’re painfully poor at it, even when we’re saying potentially sensitive or embarrassing things on a one to one basis.
When the pool of recipients is much wider, real engagement means paying attention to sending the right message to the right person at the right time. You can find more about creating emails that work in our practice doc, but for now, let’s focus on the middle part of that email holy trinity: the right person.
Check the Data
Cleansing mammoth lists of your data can be an unedifying experience. But it is an essential one. Get it wrong and, however good your content, however powerful your message, your email can’t possibly have an effect because it won’t ever land in front of the person with the power to do anything about it.
To be clear, we’re not talking the sort of 3rd party list cleansing that highlights gobbledegook addresses. That won’t always get rid of inactive users and it will rarely identify spam traps. We mean checking and verifying the data you hold in person, then removing inactive or incorrect information.
Who should do this? Too often, verifying the data is seen as the digital equivalent of sweeping the floor – but sweeping the floor doesn’t have the potential to win you new business. So whoever’s physically checking the details, ensure there’s some level of oversight and accountability that gives your data the importance it deserves.
Check the Algorithms
Almost every day I receive emails from LinkedIn suggesting the career opportunities I might like to explore. Occasionally, in an idle 5 minutes on the train, I’ll have a look at what’s on offer in case that dream job in the Bahamas is being advertised. All the jobs are marketing related, as you’d expect, but there’s a wide variance in terms of location, role and pay.So what looks like a personalised recommendation turns out only to be intermittently successful in its attempts to tailor information to me.
Reaching the right people means segmenting to ever more granular levels. The greater sophistication you can give your algorithms the greater the chance of matching every recipient with content that really does make them sit up and read on. So if the extent of your data analysis is limited to name and age range, it’s time to take a much deeper and broader look at the information you hold.
Check the Creative
Reaching the right people relies on more than the accuracy of your data or the power of your algorithms. The right creative determines whether recipients feel that an email is a) for them (as opposed to generically being for anyone and everyone), and b) contains information that matters to them.
Getting it right is a complex process of matching data with creative. You’ll find more on this in the practice document. But getting it wrong is easy:
- Don’t give your email a veneer of personalisation (eg using the recipient’s name) only to immediately resort to generic content. Your mail may reach the right person, but they won’t spend any time reading it.
- When the goal is to engage, don’t sell. Tell stories, offer ideas, share information – but leave overt selling to your ads.
- Avoid using language and punctuation that will trigger spam filters – avoid typing in capitals, £ signs, exclamation marks, and words such as “free” – they’ll stop your message reaching the recipient.
- Don’t trick readers into opening emails with a misleading subject line
It is, of course, a percentage game. Does doing all the above guarantee a 100% open or action rate? Of course not. But it does improve the chances of the right person receiving your email – which is the only way of creating open or action results that mean something.