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Email Marketers: Segment and Respect Your Customers

I’ve written about the use of email by the Democratic Party and by the White House before, but I think their practices need to be revisited just a bit.

Politically, I lean Democrat. And I, like many Democratic-leaning folks out there, am absolutely sick of the party’s so-called leadership and their lack of ability to get anything done. And if you ever wanted to get an indication of how off kilter they are, just take one look at my inbox:


Not counting the 4-5 emails I deleted before realized I could write a post about this, I count 11 email messages in the past month from SEVEN senders. Before I get into the crux of my post here, let’s examine for a minute what’s wrong with this picture:

  • Seven senders in 11 email messages. John Caldwell blasted “Sender Roulette” as he calls it. I can’t stand it either. I don’t know who Colleen Turrentine, Ben Metcalf, or Emily DeRose are. And I bet you many people don’t know who David Plouffe or James Carville are (I do; I’m like that). And there’s something to be said for a lack of credibility of sender when it’s Obama himself as the From Name–Just sayin’.
  • Subject lines are vague or nonsensical. “110 times.” For what? “Where we stand.” On what? “2009.” Very good, you know the year. “It starts with you.” What does? I’d love to see the metrics on their opens. It can’t be very good. Not with those subject lines.

Now that I’ve got that out of my system, let’s talk segmentation. Clearly, the Democrats don’t use segmentation. It’s clear they don’t, because their so-called preference center doesn’t allow for changes in preference:


And their unsubscribe page isn’t much better (seen below). In fact, I say it’s worse. A “Donate Now” button on the unsubscribe page? Really? And no pre-populated email address? Surely you guys have the IT infrastructure to support that function.


On the Email Experience Council BlogDJ Waldow wrote his four reasons why email segmentation matters:

1. Reduces inbox clutter: Assuming the emails were the same, would you rather receive 3 or just 1?

2. Increases relevancy: The more relevant an email, the more likely I am to take action (open, click, convert)

3. Earns trust: If I believe that you – the email marketer – have my best interests in mind, I’ll trust you more. More trust ultimately leads to more action (see #2).

4. Gain credibility: Good segmentation proves to me that you know what you are doing. It shows that you are not blasting off emails. Instead, you are putting thought behind each send.

I don’t typically open the messages from the Democratic Party. In fact, I designated their messaging to what equates to my spam inbox email address. If the Democrats were smart email marketers, they would have a send list for the engaged recipients (namely NOT me), and for those who are just along for the ride (me). After all, it’s about the customer experience, and right now, my experience is pretty lacking in terms of relevance.

Ages ago, Sally Lowery wrote on the Bronto Blog about why email marketers need to think about the customer experience. Lowery wrote:

Your company can differentiate itself through its customer experience. Your email marketing can influence perceptions, preferences, and predispositions toward additional purchases. Customer experience, relevance, and timing all go hand in hand to create a meaningful dialogue between you and your customer.

What’s my perception of the Democrats’ email practices? Shoddy at best.

What’s my predisposition toward helping the cause? Let’s just say I have better ways to spend my money, thank you very much.

Remember, as I wrote a while back:

  • Respect your customer
  • Segment your audience
  • It’s about relationships

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