Category: Segmentation

Market Segmentation & Mass Emailing

In the last few months, I observe that Email Newsletters from Indian Brands are improving a lot, in terms of design / look and feel / quality of content etc.,

However, these mails are not targeted right / smart. Most of them (even the biggest brands) still treat this as a pure, high power Mass Emailing system, with zero brains. They want to mail couple of million people, and hope that even a slim hit rate will give them huge business returns.

This may be true, but the fact is, they don’t seem to understand / appreciate what they are missing. Mass Emailing is much more powerful when combined with smart market segmentation.

For example, let us say I need a rare book on history, which is out of print. The only way I can read it is, by borrowing it from a library or an individual.

Approach 1:

I have 250 people in my Personal EMail Contacts List, one of them may have this book, Why not send a mail to all those and ask? It doesn’t hurt, and doesn’t cost a dime.

Approach 2:

Out of these 250 people, only 20 people are interested in reading history books. Let me send a mail to only those 20 people

As far as I am concerned, Approach 2 is much harder than Approach 1, because I need to manually hand pick those who are history buffs. But when I do that, I am writing only 20 mails instead of 250, and, my chances of success are much higher.

But does it really matter? Emails cost $0. Why invest that extra time in hand picking 20 people out of 250? Just blast a mail to everyone and see if someone responds.

This is exactly what many brands are doing, even today. Let me illustrate a good example from my own personal experience.

Recently, my bank started sending “Net Banking Basics” kind of educational newsletters. They have wonderful graphics and text to each ABCs of Net banking to customers. Nice initiative.

But guess what, they send this newsletter to all their customers. Including those (like me) who are using Net banking for the last 10+ years.

For me, these mails are frustrating / silly. Why waste my time with “How to login to your net banking” kind of Emails, when I am doing it almost everyday? Worst part, My bank knows I am a regular Net Banking user and still sends me these mails as if they are issuing bit notices on the street, Carelessness? No Value for your customer’s time? Big mistakes!

This is the problem with wrong targeting (or “No Targeting” in this case). Unlike my personal “Rare Book Search”, this “Net Banking Basics” mails should only be going to New Customers, or those who rarely / never use Net Banking. For all others, they are a waste of time.

Not only that, most of the Mass Emailing solutions charge you money, based on the number of Emails you send. From that perspective, Every single mail that my bank sends to me on “Net Banking Basics” is a waste of time, resources AND money.

Instead, what should they be doing? My suggestion is this:

  • Design 2 newsletters : “ABCs of Net Banking” and “How to do more from your Net Banking?”
  • Create 2 Segments of your customers : Newbies to Net Banking, Advanced Users of Net Banking (How? You have the net banking login particulars, USE IT!)
  • Target Newsletter #1 to Segment 1 and Newsletter #2 to Segment 2

Sounds too simple? Even Silly? Believe me, many brands are not doing even this simple segmentation and are happily sending Mass Emails, which bring a negative customer experience.

Zero Segmentation / Brainless Mass Emailing is not only a bad strategy, it can even create bigger problems. Here is another example, again from my Bank’s Newsletters.

One of their recent Newsletters had this Subject line “Use Net Banking and Get a Travel Bag Free”.

Wow, Free gift, I opened the EMail immediately and learnt that all I need to do is Login to my Net Banking account, Request for a statement and that’s it, I get a Travel Bag.

But wait, there is a fine print, This is only applicable for first time users of Net Banking.

Oops, Tough luck. Bye Bye Travel Bag.

Now, what goes through my mind?

  • Why send me an offer for which I don’t qualify (Bad Or Zero Segmentation, We already discussed it)
  • You are giving a free travel bag to a newbie logging in to Net Banking for the first time, But no gift to me, who is a regular user of Net Banking, Unfair!

Of course, I understand the motivation behind my bank giving away this gift to attract more and more Net Banking customers, but the point is, they shouldn’t have told this to Regular Net Banking users, which leaves a bad taste in their mouth.

Again, the culprit is Zero Segmentation. If only the bank sent that “Free Travel Bag” offer mail to only those customers who never used Net Banking, I will never know about that offer / feel bad about missing a freebie.

OKay, we covered Bad Segmentation / Zero Segmentation, there is a third category, its called “Unfit Segmentation”.

Few days back, I got a newsletter from a super market. It was in Kannada, a regional language spoken in the state where I live (Karnataka, India).

I really liked the idea of sending marketing newsletters in regional languages, I don’t remember any other brand doing it.

But, the problem is, My super market never asked me whether I could read Kannada. Thousands of people living in Karnataka, can’t read the local language. All those will get zero value from this newsletter.

So, What went wrong? My guess is this:

  • The store has decided to segment customers based on the state they live
  • They designed a newsletter in each state’s regional language and sent it across
  • For example, if you live in Karnataka, you get a Kannada newsletter, If you live  in Tamilnadu, you get a Tamil newsletter and so on (Nice!)

When compared to my Bank, this is Smart Segmentation. They haven’t mass mailed something to everyone, proper segmentation is done and each segment got relevant content.

But the problem is, they totally missed the fact that I may be a Tamilian who is living in Karnataka. In that case, this rule will send me a Kannada Newsletter, which I can’t read / use / buy.

So, the segmentation strategy adopted by this supermarket is Good, But unfit for their requirement (Newsletters in more than one language). They should have gone for something like this:

  • When people register in your super market, ask them “Preferred language of communication”
  • Create your segments based on this information and send newsletter accordingly
  • Means, irrespective of where I live, if I prefer “Tamil” as my language of communication, I will get the newsletter in Tamil

To summarize:

  • Zero Segmentation is bad, and creates a negative customer experience
  • Depending on your marketing requirements, choose your “customer information” on which segments will be based on. Wrong Segment / Unfit Segment is as bad as Zero Segmentation

Naga Chokkanathan,

Senior Director, CRMIT

Originally Published In : http://nagachokkanathan.wordpress.com/2012/05/22/market-segmentation-mass-emailing/

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Beware Of Inactive Inboxes

We have a curious problem in our apartment, Not something which can be resolved by calling a plumber or electrician.

There are 8 flats in this apartment and we have a small association of owners. We meet once in a while and discuss things such as maintenance fee, current issues, possible solutions etc.,

In paper, this sounds good, But in reality, it’s near impossible for us to gather all the house owners (just 8 of them) in one place. So, we kept postponing these meetings and many issues went untouched.

One fine day, we decided to sort this by using the power of internet. Someone created an Email group, asked all the owners to join there and we started interacting regularly. As we could read / respond to Emails offline at our convenience, this was very useful and we all liked it.

All, except two.

One of these owners, had an Email ID, But never used it. So he missed all important updates and was always raising a flag on every issue ‘when did you discuss this? I am not even aware of it!’

‘But we sent you an Email.’

‘Sorry, I don’t check my mail at all, you should have called me in phone and informed.’

Another owner, didn’t even know what an Email is. In fact, he never touched a computer in his life till date. So, he missed all updates too.

Thankfully, the other 6 owners had active Email IDs, and were checking / responding to Emails. But we could see some mismatches in the frequency of checking Emails, for example, couple of us checked Emails every few minutes, while others did it by end of the day, or even end of the week. As a result, we couldn’t make any decisions fast enough.

To summarize, eventho’ we had an Email group and discussing things, there is no assurance that all the concerned people get updated promptly. This brings down the overall effectiveness of the Email Group itself.

If this is the case with just 8 members, imagine what will happen with Marketing teams trying to push messages to hundreds of thousands of customers in their CRM Database. You may be sending a beautiful Email Newsletter, but 20% of your contacts may never open it, another 20% may open it late, effectively spoiling your party.

With “Social” messages, the risk is even higher. Most of your contacts in the CRM Database, may not be active in Social Media / check updates regularly, What is the point in touching base with them at great expense? May be they need to be contacted in a different channel?

To take care of this serious communication issue, it is advisable for marketing organizations to start analyzing their existing contacts and split them into different buckets such as:

  • Email Aware
  • Email Active
  • Social Media Aware
  • Social Media Active
  • None

This is just a sample, we may have more buckets like this, but the point is, if we know how active the contact is in various channels (by just asking them, “What is your preferred mode of communication? Email / Phone/ Twitter / Facebook / Others?”) we can push the same message to different people in different channels and expect a higher HIT Rate.

For example, a single campaign message may go to 20% of my contacts via direct mail (Post), another 20% in Email, 40% by Social Media etc., based on the bucket where they are. This way we ensure that a message has a higher chance of making an impact, by not falling on an inactive inbox / facebook wall.

Naga Chokkanathan

Senior Director, CRMIT

(Originally Published in http://nagachokkanathan.wordpress.com/2012/03/29/why-not-beware-of-inactive-inboxes/)

What To Monitor In A Tweet?

One out of every three Twitter users talk about brands in their tweets and that’s a fact. This is a good way to keep an eye on your brand. A tweet may look very small and even insignificant, but actually there are so many things that you can monitor in a single tweet. There is lot of business information that can be driven from this amazing social media tool. You can know a lot about your customer and their feelings by just carefully observing the tweets they write. Check out this picture, which talks about various things you can track from a single tweet.

There are various factors that can be considered while looking into a tweet of one of your customers or prospects and this can be mapped to your CRM data, as well. While Twitter not only works as an opinion poll, it also helps people to build an instant “backchannel”. And if your prospects are online most of the time, monitoring the tweets and responding to them promptly, can immensely help with business development and augmenting customer service.

Charu Mehta

CRM Consultant, CRMIT

Innovative Newsletter

Recently I got an Email Newsletter which had this subject line : “What To Do With Your Riches From The Facebook IPO?”

Obviously, I am not going to get any riches from the Facebook IPO, so I got curious who is writing to me with such a SPAMish, yet cheeky subject line. I started reading this mail immediately (Very rare, for a mass distributed mail!).

The mail was as interesting as the subject line. It went like this : (Edited slightly, to skip some unnecessary details)

Hello,

As you may know, there are over a few thousand new millionaires in the Bay Area this afternoon. You may want a few ways to spend that cool million that may have just landed in your lap.

Here’s my advice on things you can do with your newfound nest-egg:

1. Open a Jazzercise studio

2. Take a few hundred friends on the Kiss Kruise

4. Get a butler for the next 15 years

5. Buy a medium-sized island

9. Purchase 4 Manhattan parking spots

10. Call my financial advisor to turn it into a cool 1.1 million.

Regards,
Adam

P.S. Just in case you didn’t make a windfall in this IPO, feel free to grab yourself a no-cost 30-day trial silver membership in our Community so you don’t miss the next big thing in social CRM.

Brilliant mail. Puts things in the right perspective, in a humor filled style and sticks immediately:

  • The mail talks about something real, recent and big. You would have read about Facebook IPO somewhere or heard about it in the news. So you would immediately connect with this mail
  • Those ideas are super fun (and real, I assume)
  • Unlike other SPAM mails, this mail may be ‘real’ for few people, if they were associated with Facebook in its early days and got some shares
  • So, what if you are not one of those lucky fellows? No problem, join our Social CRM community and you will make millions in the next big IPO, because we are going to teach you how to spot such good eggs early
  • If the same message is presented without all this additional drama, it would have become a routine text and ignored, most likely

Once again, let me use the ‘Brilliant’ word here. This is as personal and effective a mass circulated newsletter can get. Love it!

Naga Chokkanathan

Director, Presales & Innovation, CRMIT

PS: The mail was from Author of “The Social Customer”, Adam Metz on behalf of his company Metz Consulting. Well done team!

Email Campaigns To Social Campaigns

Lot of buzz about Social Media / Social CRM / Social Campaigns. What is it all about? Our Director Naga Chokkanathan takes a small example and explains how someone can go from zero-to-email-to-social quite easily, all you need is a ‘social thinking’ mindset:

My favorite composer is planning to do a live concert next month, and no doubt, I am excited.

The television channel sponsoring this event released a promotional video recently. It announced “Select ten best songs of your favorite composer, and send them to aaa. The most liked songs will be performed by him in the event.”

Good Idea. As a fan, I feel happy about this ‘participation’, but when I look at it from administration perspective, Email is a very bad (ancient) concept for this type of interaction.

Let us say my favorite composer has only 1000 fans across the globe, each one are sending their ’10 best songs’ list, some of them may choose the same songs, or totally new / unique songs. This means, I would have roughly about 6000 to 8000 songs in my Email Inbox.

Now, what will I do? How can I make any sense out of this data? Am I going to open all those 1000 mails, copy paste the text manually? Am I going to write a software program to do that? What if people used wrong spellings for song names? How will I know which songs made it to the ‘top 10′ list?

Obviously, these “Email your favorite songs to aaa@bbb.com” kind of campaigns are nothing but a polished version of age old Paper-pen-letter campaigns. You will get tons of data, but then nothing will come out of it, unless and until you have lot patience and ready to comb through all those Emails manually.

So, what is the solution?

Simple, use the power of Social Media. Create a buzz using the same ‘Select ten best songs of your favorite composer’ concept!

Here are some ideas I could think of (with no detailed analysis of this campaign’s goals / objectives). These are not new, many corporates and brands are already using such ideas, but I hope this will act as a small case study on how to go from Email Campaign to Social Campaign using the same base idea:

1. Create a website for the concert. People can login to this website using their Facebook / Twitter / Google+ profiles
2. Provide lots and lots of media : Rare photos, videos, promotional clips, fan mail, and finally, a database of all the songs by the star composer
3. People can search for their favorite song and vote for them, You have upto 10 votes, you can change them till 5 days before the concert
4. Every hour, select the “Top 50″ songs and feature them in a special page, where people can view them and vote
5. Provide option for people to recommend this site to their friends and followers in various social networks
6. Sell Concert tickets, albums, t-shirts etc., Provide 10% discount to all those people who have already voted for their “top 10″ songs. If you choose only 5, you get only 5% discount
7. One week before the concert, Send notifications to all the people registered in your website, offering them a 20% discount on the concert ticket
8. During the concert, provide free WIFI to all users to post messages / tweet about the event LIVE
9. Provide live video streaming of the concert in your website, for those who couldn’t attend (Advertisement supported)
10. After the concert, send a mail to all those people who voted for the songs with personalized text such as “You selected 4 of the 28 songs sung in the concert. Hope you liked the other 24 songs too. Thanks for your support”

This is just a sample, there are tons of other ideas, but the point is, an Email campaign misses all these. When you have a dedicated website and web 2.0 style voting system, You will know exactly which songs were liked by the people and that will drive the success of the show. As a bonus, because of the viral nature of Social Networks, this campaign will reach lot more people, very fast, means, free advertisement for you!

Now, I hope the Television Channel reads this article, likes the idea and sends me couple of free tickets for the concert ;)

Source : http://nagachokkanathan.wordpress.com/2011/12/06/why-not-social-not-email/