Email & Daily Deals: Segmentation, Deliverability & Timing
Email continues to thrive as a major marketing channel, and few current trends drive this point further home than that of daily deals. Email’s not the only channel where daily deals convert, but it’s the primary hub for conversions.
We had an interesting discussion with Emily Keye, Marketing Strategist of email/mobile/social marketing platform provider Bronto Software about daily deals conversions that we thought would be worth sharing with WebProNews readers. The company recently released a set of best practices for daily deal services to stand out from competitors. First, here’s a quick look at those:
Segmentation is key – Sending out untargeted email blasts to deal subscribers is a big mistake when it comes to the daily deal industry. Receiving too many irrelevant offers is a chief complaint from many daily deal subscribers. Ask your subscribers key information beyond their location such as gender, age and interests through a manage preferences center. You can also gain information on their interests through click behavior, or you can conduct periodic surveys of your subscribers to gather more detailed profile information over time, continually improving your targeting by providing content tailored to their interests. Using these tactics, you will be able build a profile for each subscriber so you can segment your lists and provide members with deals targeted to their specific interests. Remember, the quality of the list is as important as its size.
Deliverability is crucial – Reaching the inbox is essential in the daily deal industry. Each undeliverable email and bounceback represents a lost sales opportunity. Ensure that your messages reach subscribers’ inboxes by working with a seasoned email marketing provider that has established relationships with ISPs and has transparent polices for sharing deliverability rates so you can benchmark campaign performance. Your ESP should have established partnerships with email authentication and reputation management services. Excellent deliverability is also established when marketers first begin their relationship with subscribers. Make sure to ask for explicit opt-in permission from day one and set expectations of what you will send and the frequency of your messages.
Timing is everything – Email timing is also extremely important for daily deal companies. If people don’t open emails on time, they miss out on expiring deals and the company and merchant both miss out on a sale. When is the best time to send an email? Answering that question can be a challenge since optimal send times are a moving target based on many variables. Test your email messages to see when your subscribers are opening them. Your email service provider should offer send-time optimization capabilities for automatically monitoring and sending messages at the time a subscriber is most likely to open it. Timing is everything, so test, analyze and optimize. Given the timing competition around daily deals sends, also work on targeting inactive or unengaged subscribers by automating “win-back” messages. Test this message at different times during the day, typically later in the day, to avoid competing against other daily deal messages.
What makes these best practices the best practices?
“I think simplicity is at the root of the incredible success we’ve seen with daily deal sites,” Keye tells WebProNews. “It’s a simple and effective way to connect consumers with great deals from merchants right in their neighborhood. Now daily deal marketing practices are evolving to the next level. Segmentation, deliverability and timing have been core online marketing best practices for years now and their value has been proven time and time again, especially with cross-channel marketing campaigns in which email plays a central role.”
“Let’s take a closer look at deliverability,” she continues. “Reaching the inbox is essential for daily deal providers. Each undeliverable email means a lost sales opportunity. You need to do everything in your power to ensure that deal emails get through.”
“Email deliverability depends on a complex array of factors, including close relationships with ISPs, which are the gateways for electronic message delivery,” she adds. “Email authentication and reputation management also figure into the equation. Email Service Providers (ESPs) spend years establishing close relationships with ISPs as well as authentication and reputation management services in order to boost deliverability performance. There are a host of other factors and best practices that influence deliverability, and ESPs make it their business to become best practices experts in these areas. That’s why many daily deal services rely on ESPs as their message delivery platform. It’s a core competency of ESPs that allows daily deal services to focus more attention on their subscribers and merchant clients.”
“Regarding segmentation and timing, we all know from experience that getting the right offer at the right time makes all of the difference in the world,” says Keye. “Daily deal providers that analyze data and periodically survey their subscribers to learn more about them can better segment their lists by interest and preferences. For example, the golf enthusiast gets the 50% off deal for nine holes at a great golf course located between home and the office. In the dead of the New England winter that same subscriber receives a deal for golf swing lessons at an indoor driving range nearby.”
“These are great examples of segmentation and timing at work,” she says. “It’s also important to remember that beyond seasonal, holiday or calendar events such as birthdays, optimal timing for sending daily deal offers to the inbox is a moving target. At what time of day are deals most like to be seen and opened? When do you get the most conversions? Is it first thing in the morning, or later in the day when you’re less like to bump into competing offers? The only way to know for sure is to test, analyze and optimize. Try sending deals at different times of the day and analyze the results. Then make sure you revisit those same tests periodically as the optimal time to send is likely to shift due to a number of variables.”
Email vs Social
“Email is the primary gateway for daily deal sign ups and remains the primary delivery vehicle for offers, so it definitely plays a crucial role in driving sales,” Keye tells us. “Ultimately, it comes down to a consumer seeing a great deal targeted to their interests, and that can happen via email, social or mobile channels.”
“The benefit of social media is that your social connections usually know you well, so when people share deals via Facebook, Twitter or other social networks, they have a high likelihood of leading to a purchase,” she adds. “Also, you may be signed up to receive deals via email, but you also follow the provider on Twitter and Facebook. In fact, many people spend so much more time in social networks than on email, so it may be the first place they find a deal. You happen to be checking your Facebook page when the horseback riding lessons deal you’ve been waiting for pops up. You click on the link and buy. So, while email is the communications hub for daily deal offers and still the place where most deals convert, daily deal companies should leverage the mobile and social channels for even higher conversions and for better engagement with fans and followers.”
On how deals providers can set themselves apart from the pack…
“As the recent Rice University study shows, consumer demand for daily deals remains very strong,” says Keye. “This is good and bad news for providers. The good news is obvious. The challenge is that competition for the consumer inbox is getting tougher and at some point, daily deal fatigue may set in, so only the most relevant, targeted and timely deals have a chance of standing out from the pack.”
“Geo-targeting by city was good enough at the beginning,” she says. “But now consumers subscribe to two-three-four or more daily deal services – all with competing offers in their home town. That’s why forward-thinking providers are thinking beyond relying solely on location data and are learning more about individual subscribers in order to create more detailed consumer profiles.”
“You won’t have the best offer for every subscriber every time, but the more frequently you reach consumers with deals matched to their interests and preferences, the more you’ll set yourself apart and be remembered as the deal company that ‘knows what I like,'” she adds.
Well, the competition is certainly great, and there are some major players for the small ones to contend with, but as we’ve discussed in the past, there does seem to be room for plenty of verticals within the space.