Two women working on creating targeted email marketing campaigns

4 Ways to Use Targeted Email Marketing and Streamline Your Email Strategy

How can targeted email marketing boost your email engagement – and sales? Our guest Pohan Lin, the Senior Web Marketing and Localizations Manager at Databricks, shares his insights on the topic below.

Email is a magnificently powerful tool. It’s widely used and easily targetable. When you streamline your email outreach, you can be confident that you’re making the most of your list. There’s nothing like sending emails to those most likely to respond favorably.

So how do you do that? How do you reach out with the most relevant content for your audience?

Targeted email marketing helps you focus on what your list needs and wants – and reach your email goals more easily.

What is targeted email marketing?

Targeted email marketing consists of sending emails to specific segments of an email list, using criteria such as past shopping behavior, special events, age or location.

Statista graph illustrating the worldwide usage of email.
Statista predicts that more than 4.5 billion people will be using email by 2025.

With the number of users worldwide set to grow to a staggering 4.6 billion by 2025, the audience for your emails seems phenomenal. It’s like having a colossal bullhorn on the world’s busiest shopping street. All you’ve got to do is shout about what you’re offering, and the sales will come. You can’t go wrong, surely?

Oh yes, you can. There are two problems here. 

Firstly, you’re not the only one with a massive megaphone. Other businesses are sending out hundreds of emails too. So, your message has to fight to stand out among the others. 

Secondly, most of the public may not be interested in what you have to say. That’s fine. It actually might help. How’s that?

Related: Prospecting Emails 101: 8 Tips to Close More Sales

How to target your email marketing to the right client base

Think about that megaphoned mouth shouting out irrelevancies to most people. It’s just an annoyance. So, let’s put that bullhorn down. 

Now, let’s say that you’re in the business of selling dog products. Put on a dog costume, and start handing out special offer information on cards shaped like bones. If you see a dog owner, make the dog’s day by dishing him a treat (be prepared for a possible freak-out, though, if the dog fails to recognize that it’s just a suit). 

What you’ve done there – and what I did: yes, I have been that man in a dog suit –is to target your marketing. You’ve got a clear identity, and you’re making inroads into your most supportive client base (i.e., hungry dogs).

Targeted email marketing works with much the same principles, with a bit more sophistication. It consists of a message you personalize and send not to your entire list but to the email addresses of people who want it. This results in better engagement and more potential sales.

Bonus tip: Make sure all the addresses you’re about to email are valid and active. It takes minutes and helps you prevent bounces and campaigns going to spam.

Try the ZeroBounce free email verifier

When setting out down this route, you need to be sure of what you’re offering, and who you’re targeting. 

A huge amount of data impacts email marketing campaigns. Sometimes it can seem overwhelming, but there’s help out there. For example, machine learning (ML) – the best autoML solutions will offload a lot of your analytical work.

Four ways to try targeted email marketing

So, now that we know what targeted email marketing is, let’s see some of the best ways to use it. 

#1. Use past shopping behavior

This is the kind of targeting where a business looks at what a customer bought in the past, and seeks to encourage them to buy similar products. 

To take a common example, if you sell clothing, and a customer has in the past bought outdoor gear, it makes sense to draw their attention to a forthcoming range of all-weather trekking wear. 

This is one of those rare examples of a true win-win. Your business stands to benefit from engagement with your new product range. The customer gains from having relevant content brought to their attention. 

Are individual customers wary of having their data mined in this way? Well, while issues of privacy and data security are growing in importance, most customers are positive about personalized marketing

Moreover, by allowing them to set their preferences on a contact form, you can be sure that they’re happy to receive relevant content.

Related: A complete guide to YouTube marketing

#2. Mark special occasions

This is email targeting that activates on a particular date. 

Birthdays are especially fruitful. You start by paying the customer respects on their special day, adding to the general fabulousness of the occasion. Then you give them a little treat, like a discount or a free item. They’re more likely to want to spoil themselves on this day above all others. As far as timing goes, this well-targeted email is likely to be a knockout. 

Screenshot of targeted email from Loomi offering discount. Image of a donut on a turquoise background.
A great example of targeted email marketing: a birthday email from Loomi offering a 15% discount.

A time-based targeted email can also help with inactive users. A little nudge, together with a tasty offer, can work wonders at reinvigorating that dormant customer’s interest. Your conversion rate will benefit.

If you sell DocuSign packages and notice that a customer who previously showed interest has been quiet for a while, an email on the advantages of DocuSign free vs paid can serve to bring them back into the buying fold. 

#3. Use demographic data

This is the kind of targeting that looks at the audience and seeks to segment it into more helpful marketing groups. If you sell skateboard gear, you’ll sell more of it to younger customers than to older ones. 

Sure, there are exceptions – take octogenarian Yoshio Kinoshita, a keen skateboarder from Osaka – but, by and large, your skateboarding market will skew young. 

So, age is a common way to segment.

Another widely used one is gender. There are benefits you can gain from sending out emails that concern, say, male grooming products to men. It’s safe to assume that they make up most of the market. 

But beware of clumsy and outdated thinking when it comes to using demographic criteria.You can do a massive amount of harm to your business with inappropriate email list segmentation. 

For example, with occupations now being almost universally non-gender specific, a marketing campaign that seeks to promote lumberjacking gear only to males is asking for trouble. Same with needlepoint equipment updates only targeting females. 

The numbers in these cases may back up a gender skew. However, you don’t want to get yourself a neanderthal profile by believing that only women could be interested in sewing. 

#4. Use location data

Think about which geographical areas might demonstrate the most interest in your products. For instance, there’s not much point in selling high-tog bedding to people in most of India. Most people in Goa are cozy enough at night time, thanks. Consider email marketing regarding your gloriously cool cotton sheets for these folks. 

However, it’s easy to paint geographical segmentation with too broad a brush. Those lucky Goans might be enjoying year-round clement conditions. Still, millions of Indians in the Himalayan foothills experience winters that would make a polar bear shiver. 

It pays to do some research when thinking about location-based targeted email marketing. With a bit of local knowledge, you can make your brand chime.

Start by using the correct language and currency – sounds obvious, but mistakes frequently occur. Also, if you have brick-and-mortar stores in the territory, highlight them. 

Remember to factor in possible developments in a location. Nowhere stays the same forever. So, think about likely changes in economies, for instance. This is where forecasting models in Excel can be of tremendous use. 

Finally, research local protocols so that you don’t become memorable for the wrong reasons. Nothing lodges in mind like a massive faux pas. 

Which approach is best?

There’s no single best approach to optimizing your connection with people. In fact, the best approach is to use a combination of some or all of these targeted email marketing methods. This is the best way to assure yourself that your killer email content will stay on target. So, aim, and get ready to let loose. 

Author: Pohan Lin is the Senior Web Marketing and Localizations Manager at Databricks, a global Data and AI provider connecting the features of data warehouses and data lakes to create lakehouse architecture. With over 18 years of experience in web marketing, online SaaS business and ecommerce growth, Pohan is passionate about innovation and communicating the impact data has in marketing and learning Databricks.