Spring has sprung, and chances are your parish building and grounds crew is starting to prune the dead branches and old leaves from your shrubbery and flower beds. But landscaping isn’t the only thing that might need some tending to after a sleepy winter season — how long has it been since your email lists were spruced up?
Email segmenting (the practice of targeting certain emails to specific subgroups) can boost the performance of your email campaigns and improve your open and click rates. But curating your email lists to optimize your reach can feel a bit like catching lightning in a bottle. Every parish community is different and will have its own “secret sauce” for success. But luckily, there are some best practices that can help anyone improve the efficacy of their email marketing.
Here are four questions to ask yourself when “spring cleaning” your email segments.
Are you getting what you need from your email service provider?
Some congregations will do just fine employing a basic email service provider (ESP) without all the bells and whistles. But it may be the case that your parish needs have evolved or changed. Are you utilizing an ESP that offers reporting features to help you analyze the performance of your campaigns? Do you have access to data and metrics that can provide insights into the behavior of your email recipients? Tweaking email segmenting successfully depends on being able to accurately predict how your subscribers will receive the information, and to do that, you need as much information as possible. Is it time to upgrade your parish to marketing software from a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool that can provide you with more data and tools?
Are your cohorts flexible?
People change, and you want to ensure that your email segmenting can, too! If you already utilize email segmenting to some degree, it’s likely that you have established cohorts or subgroups of recipients defined by qualities like age, donation level, family size or ministry involvement. But are you updating those cohorts regularly to ensure that the profiles of the members are still accurate? Those newlyweds who signed up for the Young Adult Ministry mailing list five years ago, for example, might benefit from receiving marketing emails about the school open house … but the family whose youngest child graduated last year has probably long stopped opening those messages.
Are you utilizing click segmentation?
Anyone with an email list (like your parish, for example) can benefit from click segmentation, whereby subscribers click on answers to questions about what exactly they’re looking for or interested in when it comes to parish life. Here is a blog that describes the process well and can help get you started. Click segmentation will allow you to create well-curated lists of subscribers who have told you exactly what will make them click “open.”
Are you cutting the dead weight?
One of the quickest and easiest ways to spruce up your email segmenting lists is to trim what the pros call the “deadwood” (those who are never opening your emails) from your list. It may sound harsh, but having too many inactive subscribers can lead to deliverability issues for your other email campaigns. Consider sending a campaign to your entire inactive cohort to give them the option of continuing to receive emails. Those that opt out, or don’t open the email, will be cut, resulting in a leaner and more effective subscriber list.