The future of email: less segmented and less personal by Jordie van Rijn @jvanrijn

The future of email: less segmented and less personal Marketeers always look around: what is the competition doing? What is the industry doing? It’s part of their job to know the market. E-mail marketeers also need to know their battleground: the inbox. I’ll give you a look at the average inbox in 2011: less segmented and less personal.

The future of email: less segmented and less personal
Marketeers always look around: what is the competition doing? What is the industry doing? It’s part of their job to know the market. E-mail marketeers also need to know their battleground: the inbox. I’ll give you a look at the average inbox in 2011: less segmented and less personal.

Less personal and less segmented?
What? Less personal and less segmented? That totally contradicts everything I was meant to believe! But yes, 2011 will be the first year that the average message in your mailbox will become less relevant via personalization and segmentation. For some five years the experts are saying that each following year would be the year of relevance, adding that segmentation and personalization are the ways to get there. But this year it is not.

A fork in the road
In reality we see a clear a fork in the road. On the one side the highly advanced and more mature e-mail programs and on the other hand the less sophisticated use of e-mail marketing. E-mail marketing is still growing and growing and this growth is not primarily coming from the top segment, but from the bottom tiers. The numbers from the DMA show that the number of email has reached an all time high, but less of these have personalized or segmented content. For instance the e-mail with personalized content has dropped from 38% to 22%. The average 2011 inbox therefore will contain more email from the bottom tiers, making it less sophisticated.

Webshops for example
For instance small webshops are popping up like there is no tomorrow (and for some of them there will not be), but they are all growing their e-mail lists and some are quite successful at it. Growing  fast and still making a good buck with a small marketing budget, priorities usually are not yet into developing a higher sophistication in their e-mail marketing. Knowledge, budget and time recourses are usually the main constraints. It is very easy to set up an e-mail marketing program, but it seems hard for them to get the minimal basics in place and a lot harder to get it right. Especially because they don’t have a lot of experience in the field.

So what should I do?
Don’t get me wrong, the way to get into people’s minds, hearts and wallets is still to deliver value. And segmentation and personalization are top tactics to raise that value. Just know that you are in the inbox in between all these e-mailings with average to low value. My advice: be sure to make a good first impression, grab the attention at the start and set the right (high) expectations. If you can deliver on that, you can carve a notch in the (mental) priority inbox.

Takeaway: Know that your e-mailing sits between lots of uninteresting messages. So make a great first impression and use tactics like segmentation to deliver on added value.

Meet the author:

Jordie van Rijn

Jordie van Rijn

Jordie is an independent email marketing consultant with his company eMailMonday. He specializes in email marketing and event-driven campaigns, helping brands to get the most from their email marketing efforts. Selecting emailtools at email vendor selection website is another.

Connect with: Jordie van Rijn

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  • Chief eMail Officer
    December 23, 2010 at 11:12 am

    That’s a very interesting perspective Jordie.

    I know we are all work hard at creating better segmented and more personal messages.

    Funny thing is, I admitted at #MPEIS that we still practice batch and blast.

    Shhhhh don’t tell anyone. Not even our Ninjas.

    Best wishes to you and your family for the holidays.

    Regards,

    Jeff

  • Chief eMail Officer
    December 23, 2010 at 11:12 am

    That’s a very interesting perspective Jordie.

    I know we are all work hard at creating better segmented and more personal messages.

    Funny thing is, I admitted at #MPEIS that we still practice batch and blast.

    Shhhhh don’t tell anyone. Not even our Ninjas.

    Best wishes to you and your family for the holidays.

    Regards,

    Jeff

  • Jacques Spilka
    December 23, 2010 at 11:32 am

    imho the issue is content creation. Small shops (and some big ones) believe that all you need to do is batch and blast and they will come. If email were as expensive as DM then you would see a lot more work going into testing, segmentation and personalization. Because small shops do not have the resource bandwidth to create relevant content on a consistent basis they take the low road – blast everyone in the list and bemoan the lack of significant response. If they do test it is usually at the subject line level. A good thing to test to be sure; however offer, layout, copy, price… should also be tested.
    I could go on and on…

  • Jacques Spilka
    December 23, 2010 at 11:32 am

    imho the issue is content creation. Small shops (and some big ones) believe that all you need to do is batch and blast and they will come. If email were as expensive as DM then you would see a lot more work going into testing, segmentation and personalization. Because small shops do not have the resource bandwidth to create relevant content on a consistent basis they take the low road – blast everyone in the list and bemoan the lack of significant response. If they do test it is usually at the subject line level. A good thing to test to be sure; however offer, layout, copy, price… should also be tested.
    I could go on and on…

  • AndyT (aka CaptainInbox)
    December 23, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    Very nice Jordie, That needed to be said!
    It’s so easy to kid our selves by consistently stating what should be happening while it’s actually not.

    It’s so hard to get a lot of the smaller companies to spend that much more time to do it right, when what they are doing now is working for them and they won’t risk making it worse, no matter how much we tell them.

    I’ve run into agencies working for giant brands this year who refuse advice because if they change what has been working for years and if it does not work and the brand makes less money they lose the contract.

    It will be down to the ESPs to integrate with CRMs and provide better behavioural profiling so that companies can take our advice without tripling their workload for an unknown level of success.

    Nice action sir!

    Andy

  • AndyT (aka CaptainInbox)
    December 23, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    Very nice Jordie, That needed to be said!
    It’s so easy to kid our selves by consistently stating what should be happening while it’s actually not.

    It’s so hard to get a lot of the smaller companies to spend that much more time to do it right, when what they are doing now is working for them and they won’t risk making it worse, no matter how much we tell them.

    I’ve run into agencies working for giant brands this year who refuse advice because if they change what has been working for years and if it does not work and the brand makes less money they lose the contract.

    It will be down to the ESPs to integrate with CRMs and provide better behavioural profiling so that companies can take our advice without tripling their workload for an unknown level of success.

    Nice action sir!

    Andy

  • Chris Bailey
    December 24, 2010 at 11:24 am

    Okay Jordie, after reading your post a few times I see where you’re trying to go here. The flaw isn’t so much in your eventual recommendation (who is going to argue against offering greater value over less valuable messages?) as it is in your title and setup. You state the future of email marketing is less personalization because small shops and clueless agencies who don’t understand email are inundating inboxes. How long until they realize their mass, one-size-fits-all approach actually doesn’t work? I don’t buy the future of email is just more of the same poor execution that’s existed over the past decade. Dear god, please don’t let the future of email be that.

  • Chris Bailey
    December 24, 2010 at 11:24 am

    Okay Jordie, after reading your post a few times I see where you’re trying to go here. The flaw isn’t so much in your eventual recommendation (who is going to argue against offering greater value over less valuable messages?) as it is in your title and setup. You state the future of email marketing is less personalization because small shops and clueless agencies who don’t understand email are inundating inboxes. How long until they realize their mass, one-size-fits-all approach actually doesn’t work? I don’t buy the future of email is just more of the same poor execution that’s existed over the past decade. Dear god, please don’t let the future of email be that.

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