Want to Conquer 'Email Fatigue'? Figure out Your Customers' Viewing Behavior. You already know that personalization attracts engagement. But you need to dive in deeper to satisfy customers' content cravings.

By Deren Baker

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


How quickly does email fatigue set in? Faster than you can say "unsubscribe." MarketingSherpa recently revealed that just 15 percent of email users surveyed thought that the messages they receive from marketers were always useful.

Is this disconnect between would-be loyal consumers and businesses, then, dooming email marketing? Not necessarily. Companies willing to change their messaging from self-promotional to customer-centric can avoid the crash and burn -- and that change starts with a deep dive into consumers' viewing behaviors.

Want engaged readers? Get to know them, beginning with an exploration of the types of content they prefer. As an Experian report indicated, emails offering a personal flair based on users' needs drove up click rates by 27 percent and open rates by 11 percent.

Related: 3 Ways to Strengthen Your Email Marketing Impact

Know your customer, know your strategy.

If you don't know your customers, you can't enhance your branding efforts. But if you do know them, you can reference cultural touchstones you know will resonate, and get a sense of the emotions they respond to that might motivate them in the sales process.

For example, consumers who watched Santa Clarita Diet (a horror-comedy on Netflix about a California family) were 20 times more likely to purchase CeraVe skincare products on Amazon, according to a Jumpshot report. Were CeraVe aware of that connection, it could promote its products directly to those consumers already likely to purchase its products.

Of course, getting closer to readers presents a major challenge: Another Experian rerport showed that more than four out of five marketers reportedly struggle to define customer personas. In other words, they're clueless about the content consumers crave.

A colleague of mine tells me she's experiencing this problem first-hand. Turns out, she signed up for a company's email list, assuming she'd receive more information about the business that way. Instead, she's being bombarded with daily GIFs and visual puns that aren't making her laugh. The sender is clearly risking losing her -- and other customers -- through this ill-thought-out joke-a-day format.

Related: 12 Reasons Why Your Emails Aren't Driving Business

Of course my colleague's experience isn't unique. Plenty of companies lean toward including imagery in their email campaigns. And in theory that's smart. But, if that imagery isn't compelling viewers to take action, that content is a mismatch for the target audience, and a potentially costly one.

For instance, 58 percent of millennials who participated in a Market Cube survey for Campaign Monitor said that they donated to nonprofit organizations at least most of the time when they received a compelling email with a strong request.

That figure shows how ripe the for-profit commercial market is, too, for authentic, personalized email campaigns.

Give consumers what they really want.

To increase your emails' influence, consider taking a new approach to understanding your consumers. Try these strategies to gather viewing data and turn it into actionable insights:

1. Construct realistic profiles of your audience. Chances are, you already have demographic information about your prospects and current customers, but knowing age and location isn't always enough. You need to know your audience's habits, interests and lifestyle choices. By partnering with entities that can help you sift through consumer behaviors online and off, you can gather that critical information and build out the profiles you've started.

Use Google Analytics, geographically tied U.S. Census data and surveys of your existing customers to learn more about your audience. That will increase the accuracy with which you're able to target prospects. Foursquare's Pilgrim technology can be an asset to geolocate email recipients in real time and trigger profile information.

2. Seek third-party customer data sources. Adding depth and dimension to your audience profiles, right down to the shows they watch and movies they stream, might be too much to consider as an in-house job. Instead, talk to third-party providers who assist companies in building out omnichannel consumer perspectives.

Instead of creating blanket market segments based on one or two properties, macro-segment your audience and blow away the competition. As you proceed, you can gain a strategic edge by learning more about your audiences through the data you -- and a third party -- collect. You might discover that most of your users turn their devices toward kids' shows and family entertainment; for them, parenting is likely a motivating factor. Use this intelligence to promote action through family-targeted content.

3. Tie marketing messages to user-based cultural findings. Gathering detailed consumer data doesn't matter if you don't act on the insights you glean and track your new campaigns' effectiveness. Driving higher open and click-through rates (CTRs) is the goal of every email campaign, so use what you learn about your audience's viewing habits to boost those rates. Average CTRs hover around the 3 to 4 percent mark, according to SignUp.To. However, this can vary depending on sector and vertical.

If you already have a baseline of your typical click-through rate, use it to see whether creating culturally relevant emails makes a difference. Don't know what your CTR is? Start tracking it today. You might find -- as have three-quarters of your marketing brethren, according to a DMA National Client Email Report -- that you're sending as many as five messages a month. Perhaps it's time to scale up or back, or merely change your messaging while keeping the frequency.

Related: The Best Days to Send Email Campaigns and Other Email Marketing Tips

Clues to what types of content customers enjoy aren't impossible to find. If you dig deep into consumer viewing habits, you'll likely find the gold you need to boost engagement in your next email-marketing campaign. The closer you get to understanding your audience, the closer you'll get to eradicating email fatigue and building lasting loyalty.

Wavy Line
Deren Baker

CEO, Jumpshot

Deren Baker is the CEO of Jumpshot, a San Francisco-based startup that offers marketing analytics software tailored for the travel, retail, media and e-commerce industries. He has previously held senior roles at Travelocity and Switchfly.

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