3 ways to get your email & SMS to the right person | DMA

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3 ways to get your email & SMS to the right person


According to a OnePoll.com survey conducted in spring 2015, 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 all painfully poor at it, even when we’re saying potentially sensitive or embarrassing things on a one to one basis. That goes for marketers too who (in theory, at least) should know better.

When the pool of recipients is much wider, real engagement means paying attention to a) sending the right message, b) to the right person, and c) at the right time - something we constantly find ourselves (and our clients) having to communicate. You can find more about creating emails that work in our email best practice guide, but for now, let’s focus on the middle part of that 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 the branding, messaging, template and content, your email will struggle to have the desired 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 or fuzzy searches that highlights gobbledegook addresses or @s in the wrong place. 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. Alternatively, the responsibility and ownership can be a grey area where no-one’s really sure about who should be doing what. Our advice? Whoever’s physically checking the details of an email – from data selection, through to creative creation through to final testing and deployment - must 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, as well as knowing where and when to segment. Looking at my LinkedIn emails I can see they’re segmenting on marketing, but also on London and Devon. Unfortunately, that’s London, Ohio and Devon, Pennsylvania, while I’m sat here in the UK.

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. But if you don’t have the data, don’t overcomplicate or, even worse, second guess at the gaps your algorithms will need to fill. You’re likely to deliver a worse customer experience.

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, where your gaps are and what data you’re likely to need to capture to support your business and marketing targets.

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, b) pulls them into your communication, and c) contains information that matters to them.

Getting it right is a complex process of using the insight from your data to fuel the creative and the messages it needs to convey. You’ll find more on this in the email best practice guide. But getting it wrong is easy:

* Don’t give your email a veneer of personalisation (e.g. 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 and create dialogue, don’t sell. Tell stories, offer ideas, share information, be helpful! But, definitely 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” or “download” – 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 type of engagement and supports a positive action from the receiver. And ultimately, that’s what supports a greater ROI.

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