Data plays an important role in determining which version of an e-mail campaign a customer should receive. There are several different attributes that should be considered.
- Lifetime Purchase History. This is often the most important attribute in determining which version of an e-mail campaign a customer should receive. Marketers will categorize purchases by merchandise division, and use the merchandise divisions to determine which version of a e-mail campaign a customer receives.
- Most Recent Purchase. In many instances, what a customer purchased five years ago no longer has relevance to what a customer will purchase tomorrow. Consider giving more weight to recent orders, giving less weight to older orders. Some marketers give purchases in the past three months a weight of 1.00, purchases 4-12 months ago a weight of 0.50, purchases 13-24 months ago a weight of 0.25, and all older purchases a weight of 0.125. If you have a statistician, you'll delight her with the task of assigning these weights!
- Clickstream Data. What a customer looked at, especially in the past month, can be very relevant to determining which version of an e-mail a customer receives. Some marketers use shopping cart data, others categorize items viewed by merchandise division.
- User Preferences. At Nordstrom, we asked customers what type of e-mail the customer wants (mens, womens, petites, plus-size, sale, etc.). We balanced preferences with purchases, weighting each differently when determining which version of an e-mail a customer received.
- Demographics And Lifestyle Attributes. Traditional marketers like these factors. It can be easy to conceptualize a campaign for a 35-44 year old woman who owns a Lexus SUV. These attributes are often less powerful than the purchase history of a customer.
- Catalog Marketers, who have excellent experience determining "who" receives versions of a catalog.
- Database Marketers, who have integrated data from all channels to provide a complete view of the customer.
- Web Analytics Gurus, who can help summarize clickstream data for the Database Marketing team.
- E-Mail Marketers, who oversee the entire process, are accountable for the end result, and manage vendor relationships, and understand the promotions/subject-line/template stuff that makes e-mail campaigns tick.
- Traditional Marketers can help with the creative presentation most likely to be effective with customers.
- Online Producers need to put the merchandise on the website, and make sure that landing pages work properly.
Don't expect miracles from targeted e-mail versions. In reality, you have limited data for eighty percent of your e-mail file, so you won't do a great job of targeting to these folks. Among the top twenty percent of your e-mail file, these folks are so productive that many different versions of an e-mail campaign can work. If you can get a fifteen to thirty-five percent improvement in total campaign performance by targeting, you're well on your way to success.