Don’t Treat All Your Customers the Same

    July 19, 2006

Fruit trees provide a useful email marketing analogy. Like fruit trees, different types of customers need to be cultivated in different ways if they are to bear fruit.

The problem is that when it comes to email marketing, most companies treat all their customers the same…providing the same nutrients to all of their fruit trees instead of taking time to understand that what makes an apple tree bear fruit may cause a cherry tree to produce a miserable crop. When you use email marketing properly, you spend your efforts providing each different type of tree with personalized care so each one produces an abundance of juicy fruit.

So before you go ahead and develop that new email campaign, heres a short primer on what you can do to motivate the people on your list to click and buy.

Talk to the right group of people.

Many retailers and marketers make a fundamental (and costly) error when they create an email marketing campaign: they dont know their own customers. I know this may sound obvious, but with email marketing it often gets messed up. What you must realize is that if you want to sell to everyone on your list, youll need to use different approaches.

For instance, youll want to use a different approach to sell the same product to men than women because as we all know, men and women are different. You can do this by breaking down your list into different groups based on demographics, buying behavior, lifestyles, or whatever you choose. This gives you the flexibility to target your promotions and offers based on specific customers needs and desires.

Keep your eye on design.

Eye-tracking is one of the latest (and seemingly greatest) tools in the email marketers shed, and the performance gains made by companies that make use of it are real. Using the data accumulated from eye-tracking studies allows you to see how people read your emails and to identify visual “hotspots” where customers look on the page. You can then change your layout and design to improve performance.

When designing your emails its important to remember that most people view email in a preview pane so make sure your offers are prominently placed near the top of the page. But dont place them in the header image: the majority of people make use of their email programs image blocking function and studies show they “rarely” or “never” download images.

A few choice words.

Anyone who has worked on print campaigns will tell you that long copy works better than short copy. But with email, less is definitely more. With email you have only a second to engage the reader so its important to keep your key message short, focused, and to the point.

Use trigger words that tell the reader they need to “act now” throughout your copy and write it in a style and language your customers are familiar with. Offers and promotions work best when theyre big, bold, clickable and placed near the top of the page. The same is true for headlines. Subject lines should be personalized, kept to 10 words or less, and include an offer or promotion with a specific call to action. The “from” line is also important: if you write from it could be confused with spam; better to use the company name or a name your customers are familiar with.


One of the great things about email marketing is that its incredibly easy to test and track the results of a campaign. You can even monitor and make adjustments to a campaign on the fly based on customer responses, or even their lack of responses.

Taking advantage of the latest tracking and analytics software will help you discover what works and what doesnt, and which links get clicked on most and which produce the most conversions.

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Julia Hyde is an advertising copywriter and consultant specializing in search engine optimization, search engine marketing, and traditional advertising. She currently creates advertising concepts and copy for businesses and is in the process of launching Creative Search Media, a full-service advertising and search engine marketing agency. You can contact Julia via her website at or email