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The End of Lowest Common Denominator Email Marketing

Think of the last marketing email you received: did it feel like it was crafted specifically for you? Or was it yet another generic blast that you deleted without opening?

If it was the latter, it likely falls into the bucket of lowest common denominator marketing: the concept that you can market to a large amount of users based on broad factors that group them together. It’s all about using generalizations to market to your entire customer base, instead of figuring out the nuances that naturally separate your customers into specific segments.

There are a few rare scenarios where lowest common denominator marketing does make sense, but for the most part, using a strategy that includes segmentation and personalization is more likely to yield the results you want. The good news is, switching from a generalized approach to an approach that takes specific customer attributes and behaviors into account is pretty straightforward!

Why switch?

The most common argument for sticking with lowest common denominator marketing is that you may as well reach as many people as possible with each of your marketing messages. Sending your emails to more people increases the likelihood that someone will open them, right?

There are two major problems with this theory:

  1. Emailing subscribers who are unengaged and don’t want to receive emails from you hurts deliverability to subscribers who actually want to receive your emails.

  2. Consumer expectations for email marketing have evolved. According to a study from Dynamic Yield, only 25% of consumers in North America feel email content is personalized, but 62% would respond positively if content was personalized. Consumers definitely feel the shift - they already prefer personalized emails, and in the near future, they’re going to expect it.

Why segmentation is worth a little extra effort

At first glance, sending one broadly-applicable campaign to all of your contacts seems easier. But small changes can have huge impact on ROI - for example, including a recipient’s name in the subject line can increase engagement by up to 26%.

Most email marketing platforms give you the tools you need to create powerful personalizations and segments right off the bat. With an ESP, you can target based on gender, age, location, purchase history, browsing data (and more). Once you have some key segments defined, you can work to specifically craft more appealing messaging. Simply put: you shouldn’t be sending the same email to a 40-year-old male that lives in Idaho who has only purchased from you once to a 24-year-old female from New York who has purchased bi-monthly for the past year. To get more insight into your options for segmentation, check out this post: Email List Segmentation Tips for Ecommerce.

Automation as the foundation of your email marketing

With live segments that update for you and email automations based on when customers match certain parameters, it’s easy to get the foundations of your email marketing strategy to run on autopilot. Long gone are the days when this technology was only available to the largest retailers - with email marketing automation becoming the norm, any ESP you pick up should be able to handle most of the automations you need. If you want to deep dive into automation options, these posts cover some important things to think about: 4 Key Automated Email Campaigns to Add to Your Ecommerce Customer Journey and The 5 Key Lifecycle Stages for Ecommerce Email Marketing.

Changing perspectives

Just like you, your customers don’t want a lowest common denominator email in their inbox. Once you start coming up with ways to incorporate segmentation and automation into your strategy, it will be hard not to think of your customers as individual, real life people, vs. another line in a database. This is a win all-around: your customers will feel more understood by your brand, and you’ll see that positive change reflected in your conversion rates.