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By Neil Anuskiewicz

Most people talk about different things with different people. With one friend the conversation might usually focus on relationships. With another, perhaps talk turns more naturally to movies, books, sports or politics.

You would be unlikely to appeal to your relationship-discussing friend if you were to engage in a monologue about your opinion of our current political leaders. However, if you started in with that same screed to your politics-loving friend, he or she would greet it with a smile that says “Let the games begin!“

The same theory applies to communicating with your customers and prospects. “One of the most important things to keep in mind when developing your campaign is relevance, says Yael Penn, Principal of Imagine Creative Marketing. “If you send a message recipients are interested in receiving, you will get their attention and your campaign will be a success. However, if your message is not relevant to their interests or current needs, they will most likely ignore it, or even worse, unsubscribe from your database and you’ll never be able to communicate with them again!”

There are four main elements of a successful permission-based email campaign: segmenting the database, enhancing the existing database, communicating with the database and tracking the campaign. Let's look at each.

Segmenting the database: So now you may be thinking, “Not all of the people in my database have the same interests. What should I do?” Before you send out a campaign, you should segment your database into several groups of people who share specific traits, whether it be age, gender, hobbies, job function, purchase history or some other attribute. Take all the information you already have about the people in your database and put it to good use. This exercise will also provide insight into the type of information you will want to gather moving forward to better segment your database in the future.

Once you’re satisfied with the way you’ve segmented your database, you can create a message that will be relevant to each of those groups. “A lot of people make the mistake of creating email campaigns that appeal to themselves, rather than their target audience,” says Penn. “The more you know about your customers, the more you can customize the message, look and feel to better speak to the people you are marketing to.”

Enhancing your existing database: When you initially segmented your database, you probably thought about what type of information would help communicate with your customers and prospects. Make a list of the most important things (i.e.: age, gender, magazines subscriptions, job function, industry, geo, etc.) and incorporate these questions related to each into all of you opt-in forms and order forms. The fields should be the same across the board. That way, you consistently collect the relevant information from all new customers and prospects. If possible, create drop down menus for these fields to standardize the way information is fed into your database.

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Neil Anuskiewicz is the Director of Business Development for EZ Publishing.
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