The Whole Puzzle



We’re looking at the “WHOLE PUZZLE” of fueling your email campaigns with data:
the Front, the Back, the In and the Out.


And we’re starting with “The Front” – the front-facing piece: What does it look like to your customers?


For starters, it doesn’t always need to be obvious that your campaigns are targeted. On a scale of subtle to overt, effective data-driven campaigns run the gamut.


We need to be more SUBTLE when we’re targeting based on the ABSENCE of data.

For example, you THINK she hasn’t purchased recently. But if you’re multi-channel, watch out. No retailer can tie 100% of in-store transactions to a particular email address. And even if you’re pure-play e-commerce, she may be purchasing with one email address and subscribed to your marketing with another email address. Consider a little subtlety: “We miss you” might be off-target, whereas “come back soon” is always appropriate.


We also need to be more SUBTLE when we’re targeting anything that might be a bit sensitive. Remember the bashing that Target recently took when some poor father took offense to their very overt maternity targeting; he had to learn the hard way that his teenage daughter really was pregnant. Oops!


Data-driven marketing isn’t about winning trophies for a darts game. Sometimes it’s best to just be relevant and timely, without overtly telling your customer that your dart just hit her in the bull’s eye.


But OVERT targeting has its place too: Happy Birthday, points-based rewards messaging, service-oriented transactional messaging, preference-based messaging (where the customer has explicitly submitted her preferences).


And somewhere between SUBTLE and OVERT, specialty retailers have a huge opportunity for incremental revenues by identifying long-term, stable targeting opportunities. Versioning based on mens/womens, boys/girls, petite/tall, dog/cat, preferred sport, MAC/PC… These are characteristics that don’t often change, and outside of which your customer may have very little opportunity to respond. Consider the frustration of receiving message after message that features mouth-drooling fashions that I click through and browse, only to find out you don’t even make it in petite.


Many retailers go for the one-size-fits-all image (like a pet food offer that features dogs AND cats). Others present a more focused main image but take their customers through a revolving door (womens today, mens tomorrow). That's great for your customers who DO shop a broader spectrum. But a little extra effort can drive exponential response! At least every now and then, build separate creatives and target based on a combination of the most recent buyer, browse, preference or click activity.


But never back your customer into a targeted corner! Always give the customer a way around your targeting. Here are some ideas that will generate incremental response:


  1. Build versions of a targeted main image: a pet food offer >> 1) dog, 2) cat, 3) other pets
    But add a bottom banner to broaden beyond your targeted message

  2. Provide multiple call-to-action buttons: 1) shop petite dresses, 2) shop all dresses
    The petite landing page will improve conversion by eliminating a lot of clicks to checkout, while the broader CTA will save the day if your petite targeting didn’t really hit the spot

  3. Use “tabs”: feature the targeted content but provide a “tab” that lands on a page with the other version (ala mens/womens)

  4. And now here’s the magic: build out your back-end to CAPTURE and store these clicks as implied preferences that you can use to fuel future campaigns with data!


In our series on the “whole puzzle” that was the FRONT-facing piece.


Next up: the BACK-end.




Based on your replies to last week's newsletter, many of you will be at CRMC next week. I think I introduced most of you to that conference. It's by far my favorite and I will miss being there, a lot!


I was thrilled to speak at the Internet Retailer conference last week. And I will use that for the next series of newsletters. First, I'll break down my own session over the next 5 weeks. Then I'll share some of the many great insights I took from others.


My session was "Fueling Your Email Campaigns with Customer Data." I approached it as four pieces to a puzzle:

  • Front
  • Back
  • In
  • Out


The "FRONT" is the front-facing piece. What does it look like to customers? The marketing angle. That will be the topic of next week's newsletter.


The "BACK" is the back-end. What data to collect, and how to store it to make it actionable.


"IN" is the analytical insights that guide the strategy.


And "OUT" is the profitable outcomes you can expect from fueling your campaigns with data.


So next up, the FRONT-facing piece: what do data-driven campaigns look like to customers?