Like most people reading this post, I receive a fair amount of targeted email every day. Some I open as brain candy (the Skimm or NYT), a few for visual pleasure (India Circus) and some for work (Academic journals). The rest I junk.

The primary reason I junk email is because – the content is not relevant to me. A quick review indicates the following types of offenders:

Type 1 : Obvious Junk

Email addressed to Mr. Dutta or stuff related to doing an on-line MBA for Rs. 7000/- are the first to get trashed.

  • Trashed because the folks sending email do not have clue about me and what I am interested in.

Type 2 : Outdated stuff

Stuff that I signed up for a while ago but consider irrelevant today. Material like Daily Planners (an app which I have not checked into for 6 months) or special offers for exotic ethnic wear (which I have never bought) or even stuff which I don’t have time for (digital media roundup).

  • Basically email from folks that has been routinely junked for over 6 months. The senders should have figured out by now my interest levels are kind of low.

Type 3 : Hyper Spammers

Some folk send me email so many times in a week – they clog up my inbox and get junked in a fit of ‘digital clearance’.

  • A weekly roundup – newsletter style – is something I’d appreciate

So in other words: Stay Relevant or Get Junked!

Staying relevant is easier said than done. For those who want a quick fix – please read my 6 Hacks for Email Marketing :

1. Segment the Database :

  • Make useful groups and address their needs in an intelligent manner

2. Create meaningful content for each group:

  • Offer content that is relevant for each group + customize it as much as possible + offer customized email frequency

3. Track performance in a methodical manner

  • Stick to a few easy to understand metrics and act on them

4. Scrub the Database

  • Ruthlessly remove folk who don’t engage based on pre-agreed performance metrics. And add folk at regular intervals – else the base will be too small for business impact.

5. Ask for Feedback

  • Asking people what they want helps – better offers, unique information, change in frequency of communication etc.

6. Look for a dedicated resource

  • Companies that depend heavily on email marketing should consider a dedicated resource (in-house or external) focused on constructing relevant conversations with multiple segments. If email marketing is the last part of a person’s to-do list it will reflect in the email content and response rates.

In summary:

There are lots of digital outreach tools available today. Email remains a powerful option that allows a brand to leap-frog into a customer’s inbox.  By staying relevant, creating meaningful content and using a structured approach– we can make the most of this opportunity.