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How to Improve Your Response Rates

I’ve organised a fair few email and telemarketing campaigns recently and one thing that has stood out as having a huge impact on response rates is the importance of properly segmented contact data.

In any direct marketing campaign you will only get a good response if your message is well targeted and relevant to your audience. It stands to reason therefore the broader the audience, the broader your message will have to be and the less likely you are to hit the spot.

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Photo courtesy of Skyliner via Flickr

What do I mean by properly segmented data?

Essentially I’m talking about separating your contact data into target groups of people who are likely to share the same:

  • Interests
  • Income
  • Geographic locations
  • Hobbies and past times
  • A.N. Other factor by which you can group your customers / prospective customers into similar groups

By effectively segmenting your data you are able to develop a much more targeted and rich message for your audience. The result of this should be an improved response from your direct marketing campaign.

How do you know what the correct segmentation criteria are?

I would take a first step of looking at your existing customers. Are they mostly male or female, what age and income bracket do they fall into, do they live in a particular part of town, or have a certain type of career, have they tended to approach your company by phone or email etc etc.

For one of my clients I know that the decision maker is often the lady of the house, but the finance behind the decision lies with the husband. Therefore we need to appeal to two audiences with a slightly different message – one reaching out with a story around monetary value gained from buying our service, the other in terms of lifestyle enhancement. This is where well segmented data comes in very useful because not only can we tailor the message for each group, but we can also tailor the medium i.e. email for one and a posted letter for the other.

It is certainly no different in B2B marketing, although your decision maker is likely to be influenced by many more people or layers within the organisation. As such, you will want to have different messages and approaches for each audience.  If you are selling stationery for example, you may want to influence the day to day decision makers i.e. office managers, by sending a box of chocolates with a personalised message, but for the Finance Director, you should perhaps think about a different medium.

Of course, for both business and consumers, you will want to consider which stage your target customers are at in the buying cycle. But that’s a whole different kettle of fish. If you are running direct marketing campaigns, make sure you avoid the elephant gun approach of blasting your message at everyone who’s prepared to listen.

Segment your data, refine your message and see your response rates start to climb from those depressingly low numbers every direct marketer has experienced at some point.

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    Segmentation is the first crucial step in marketing. The grouping together of customers with common needs now makes it possible to set marketing objectives for each of those segments.

  • http://www.network-marketers-guide.com Josh

    Nice post you have there Andy,

    Targeting the right market is absolutely important to getting the click! If you want those CTR’s increasing, you have to make your content or sales copy appeal effectively to the correct audience.

    Thanks for writing this, I will be back to hopefully see more posts like this one =)

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    As far as direct marketing campaign is concern obviously you will get the good response when you communicated effectively and targeted your audience with good response. And every business has different customers and every business has different niche broad or dedicated. and segmentation is the nice process.

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    Interesting point of view. Every business has different types of visitors/customers/prospects and it doesn’t make any sense to contact them using the same kind of message. But there is a limit in segmenting… The secret is to segment; but not too much, as managing a DB is very time consuming.

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    Market segmentation is definitely one of the most basic things contributing to your response rate. and yes i agree with your views up to some extend. well thanks for sharing this valuable information.

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    agree the most important part of business is knowing your primary target market and secondary target market and so forth. From there, you can start to map out a strategic marketing plan to capture that target market.

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    I agree. It’s very curious and important if the message relaying is targeted. You will get the highest response you want in this way.

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    I’m currently looking to improve the response rate of staff surveys for this year. I totally agree with your post. Always the response rate should be high.

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    How could I go about further segmenting my target audiences in my Google AdWords campaigns?

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    Segmenting your target markets seems to be more important than I realised. Perhaps this is the reason that I’ve been getting less of a response than I anticipated for my marketing efforts…

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    Excellent post! The more targeted and specific you can get your leads the better. I have had good success lately in developing niche, long tail keyword websites where they subjects are very specific. These attract far less visitors than a broad topic but the visitors are coming there looking for a very specific term and are normally looking to buy/find out more.

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    I run direct marketing campaigns in my work and i’m struck by the paucity of targeting capabilities by most email B2C and mobile advertising companies. They are possibly the two strongest direct marketing mediums but their targeting capabilities can’t match those of advertising networks.
    Most B2C email companies think that male 25-45 counts as good targeting..

  • http://www.yourssincerelyuk.co.uk Yours Sincerely-Marketing Letters and Telemarketing Scripts

    Business to Business data can be quite problematic, especially for those that sell to a wide range of companies.

    In this case it is always worth looking at the records you are excluding – depending on your product or service, this may be things like retail, public sector, one-man companies, large companies, etc.

    The other thing is, if at all possible, try a smaller set of a few hundred first before committing to a large mailing or telemarketing campaign.

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    Segment your data, refine your message and see your response rates start to climb from those depressingly low numbers every direct marketer has experienced at some point.

    I guess this is the solution to my current dilemma. I am proud og my site, but the response rate is not so good.

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    Well, it all comes down to know your customers, know how they differ, and have a clear proposition that lights their fire. Segmentation is the first crucial step in marketing. The grouping together of customers with common needs now makes it possible to set marketing objectives for each of those segments. Once the objectives have been set, strategies can be developed to meet the objectives using the tactical weapons of product, price, promotion and place (route to market).

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    Its a huge task segmenting customers and writing different sales letters, but probably well worth it.

  • kanishk

    Great stuff and so very true! I think integrating your email message with a telemarketing campaign and direct mail program will boost response rates from 5 to 15 percent.
    great work. i must say this post will certainly going to boost one’s knowledge about search engine.
    very useful content

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    what u said here its all fine and true, but dont forget, that all the people are different and looking at the world from the different angle

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    This is a great website. I just found you guys today. I’ll be bookmarking, and coming back for sure. There’s a lot of good info here. I’ve usually referred it to the ‘shotgun’ approach to marketing.. I do like the term elephant gun tho. We went through the effort to do some demographics research before we started marketing so we could be sure our advertisements were targeted to our most likely customers. We also track our marketing efforts so we can determine which ones are the most effective, and the best use of our money. Thanks again!

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    You are true in mentioning the facts about the response improving but I worry some of the steps mentioned can bring spammers to your site too that can prove to be dangerous for your site.

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    I totally agree with your post. Always the response rate should be high.

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    As discussed in your post, I think the application of segmentation criteria for B2B marketing is crucial.

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    I very much agree. Directed to the right audience, your product markets better. This is my goal for a few different websites to meet different needs.

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    I agree!
    100%
    To finde target groups of your business or products are very important!
    Thanks for this post!

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    I think, the best way how to segment data is understanding why people agree to be contacted. E. g. if somebody signs up for a free newsletter he is looking for some sort of information. If you look at your website stats and analyze the keywords which lead to the subscriptions you will better understand what are your prospects looking for.

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    This is probably the most important factor to achieving high response rates. Surveys with a high perceived importance achieve much higher response rates. Keep in mind that what is important to one group of people may be of little or no importance to another.

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    Very well post thanks for sharing but can you please tell me how to Improve Your Solo Email Response Rates…thanks.

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    Great Article! Thanks for posting. I always pretend that customer is like god but rather takes there advises, suggestions and tips.

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    You’re exactly right. Tailoring a message to a specific group of contacts is an excellent way to get the results you’re looking for. Also, remember it’s important to be mindful of your contacts time. Keep your message to the point and don’t bombard them with emails.

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    Market reserch is extremly important and companies should use it more, i don’t understand those companies that doesn’t use it.
    But a really great post.

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    One issue with data, especially consumer lists, it that a lot of the data can be extrapolated. This is where if one house in a street is rented, and there is no other information, the data supplier assumes the others are rented as well.

    While this works well in homogeneous areas, in more mixed areas it can lead to some very odd data.

    If this is the best data you can get, one option is to change your marketing items or telemarketing script to allow for an element of self-selection, quickly excluding those where it is not relevant. However, you will still have the cost of the data, the mailing and the calling which would be entirely wasted.

    You can use surveyed data to get information that is (or was) 100% accurate, but you will find the volumes of data available will drop considerably.

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    Sometimes it takes little changes and tweaks to get better response rates. Its all about the right market research. Great post!

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    I totally agree, very valid post! The key to success depends on segmenting your clent groups and being able to adapt to new strategies all the time. you should be able to adapt your tone and your message to reach your goals.
    Familiarizing yourself with your contacts and their habits always helps , basically you need to know , when to send an e-mail; Weekdends? Weekdays? Which e-mail to send? , Which e-mail title to utilize..etc…

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    As discussed in your post, I think the application of segmentation criteria for B2B marketing is crucial.
    In my opinion, too many people try to distill the process down to a pure numbers game. Sending an email to “thousands” must always be better than sending one to “hundreds” right?

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    Response is mainly depend upon your presentation & communication skill for getting batter response. Repose give you idea about your mistakes.

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    Totally agree! Targeting the right audience, and refining the article considering the age gets customers to connect well and not only increases the response rate but also help acquire newer customers. Very informative, This is going straight to my bookmarks, will come back for a re-read. thanks for sharing this post with us.

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    What I am finding on the net is that too many businesses don’t have any worthwhile product or skill to sell.

    What they are selling is “how to sell” or software that teaches a person how to sell.

    The public is becoming very wary of people selling “how to” products on the net because they are just in a crowd of thousands of others doing the same thing.

    The public deserves to deal with vendors who have a legitimate skill and a legitimate product for sale.

    It is those kinds of business over time that will survive and prosper. If one gets a lead and provides no service, but just a software program, for example, where is the repeat business there?

    That lead is just wasted whereas if the product were helpful in an ongoing way referrals and repeat visits would be possible.

    A lead is too valuable to treat it the way most internet marketing sites recommend. And, it takes years and training to have something worthwhile to offer the public.

    If one has fooled around in school and now has to face the fact that all that fooling around taught them absolutely nothing, well, that’s what everyone was trying to tell the person all along.

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    Very well post thanks for sharing but can you please tell me how to Improve Your Solo Email Response Rates…thanks.

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    I agree. For my site separating content into geographic zones is particularly important, as to optimizing adsence revenue (in addition to making the site user friendly)

    Top Article!!!!

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    Very interesting stuff, thanks for this great info. I was wondering what sort of metrics you would use to measure your response rates? Is there a specific way to measure and determine which segment to focus your energies to get even higher response rates?

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    Great Post, I found your section on segmentation criteria was very helpful.
    very useful content. Thanks for sharing..

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    I agree the most important part of business is knowing your primary target market and secondary target market and so forth. From there, you can start to map out a strategic marketing plan to capture that target market.

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    Just remember the old motto: the customer is always right!

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    Market segmentation is definitely one of the most basic things contributing to your response rate. The really difficult part is finding out the actual demographics of your customers and figuring out which types of media work best for delivering your message to each segment.

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    I really need to address my response rates. It’s just amazing how little changes here and there can have a massive impact on your business – hopefully for the better of course :)

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    Interesting point of view. Every business has different types of visitors/customers/prospects and it doesn’t make any sense to contact them using the same kind of message. But there is a limit in segmenting… The secret is to segment; but not too much, as managing a DB is very time consuming.

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    what u said here its all fine and true, but dont forget, that all the people are different and looking at the world from the different angle

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    I agree. In marketing campaign, it is essential to carefully study your clients and know your target. Being able to do this will make it easier for you to achieve successful rating in the sales. This is one of the marketing strategies and study that needs to remembered. Thanks.

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    Enhancement in response rates is directly proportional to well targeted message.Increase the response rates of the messages by using the two ways 1)effectively segmenting your data,2)correct segmentation criteria and feel the change.

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    We need to understand our customers desires in a much systematic way.

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    By using proper list segmentation you will be able to deliver a message to the audience that is more likely interested in whatever you have to say. That’s the key to higher conversion in marketing no matter what communication media you are using.

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    This post is very helpful in terms of B2B marketing environment. I will try to implement this in my B2B marketing environment.

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    I also agree because its very important that the message should be broad and close to topic if you want to get the better response of the audience.

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    That’s the key to higher conversion in marketing no matter what communication media you are using. thanks….

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    More to this, I believe the value of the product or anything that you are offering matters a lot. thanks….

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    Using proper list segmentation you will be able to deliver a message to the audience that is more likely interested in whatever you have to say. That’s the key to higher conversion in marketing. I think the information presented will be useful to many people a lot.

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    Great article, thanks for sharing. I found your section on segmentation criteria was very helpful.

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    It’s more effective if the message relaying is targeted. You will get the response you want in this manner.

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    Yes this is helpful for B2B marketing improvement

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    I agree. the data must be segmented to increase the rates!

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    I totally agree to segment prospective clients what I am a bit confused is where to get ideal list or date base of those clients so it would be easier for me and for others to make am objective segments of them.

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    Great post! I segment data in a similar fashion, but according to some proprietary software my company has set up. Classifying data is THAT important that we set up our own system…clearly it has benefits.

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    Thanks will definitely try to implement that with my future marketing endeavours.

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    Nicely explained.

    Actually I run e-mails campaign twice in a month. At first I could not get good response, some day passed without a response as well. Then I tried it differently and the approach was acceptable, getting good number of response. Your points are useful and I’ii definitely use them and let you know.

    Thanks

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    Karen, you should really segment your contact database as much as you can. Gender, age, shopping habits, physical address, previous customers vs visitors… Then write specific newsletters for each group. It doesn’t have to vary a lot – small changes will do the trick.

    As your customers notice and understand your content talks their language, they will be ready to give you more info about them. A well structured contact db is the key to success in online marketing.

    Good luck!

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    It is essential to know and understand you core customer. It helps delivering the message in a way that it resonates with the customer’s personality

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    Great information.

    Don’t know whether this will help, but I have found a fantastic site that can help you get into the minds of your potential customers – http://www.qauntcast.com.

    This site can give you a breakdown of the demographics of the people visiting specific sites, such as gender, age and income, but also gives you additional information with regard to other sites they visit and hobbies etc.

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    You got the strategy in reaching out customers and get responds. One mistake in email marketing is too much email. Too much aggressive doesn’t work. Follow up can be done but too pushy will drive the customers away.

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    Having just started out in business I am new to email marketing. I have tried it but it was a complete faliure. It didn’t occur to me about segmenting the data, and i really didnt bother to learn much about the clients I had targeted.
    Thanks for the info At least now I will have a better chance at email marketing.

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    great work. i must say this post will certainly going to boost one’s knowledge about search engine.
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    In my opinion, too many people try to distill the process down to a pure numbers game. Sending an email to “thousands” must always be better than sending one to “hundreds” right?

    Decision makers should take your advice by segmenting their contacts and then carefully determining who would most likely consider the offer valuable. As a result, they should obtain the best possible result without disrupting other clients that would be uninterested.

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    You make a valid point. The key to success lies in segmenting your contacts… and getting ready to send multiple versions of your message. Adapt your tone, medium and even message to reach your goals. Try to know your contacts and their habits: What is the best time frame to reach them – weekdays? Evenings? How often have they opened your previous emails? Which email title works best? Do you need to mention their name in the email title?

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    I couldn’t agree more to this. Identifying the target audience and their personas will help increase the response rate. More to this, I believe the value of the product or anything that you are offering matters a lot. You know, people nowadays are too busy to handle lots email in their account, however, if you have qualified them and let them realize the need for your product, that will make a significant difference. Lastly, the interval period of sending the email should also be considered. No one wants to be bombarded my email.

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    As a business graduate, I must say that this marketing strategy will be very beneficial on your part. Though it would be very tedious for you to segment your target market, still the relevancy of it will help to boost your email responses.

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    I agree. It’s more effective if the message relaying is targeted. You will get the response you want in this manner.

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    Yeah, this is what I would call reaching out to your “audience” and is usually effective. Things that stir up the emotion or engage in a lengthy discussion have more chances to elicit responses from your intended audience or in this case, your target market. It’s easier for people to respond to something when they can relate to it easily. :D

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    The hardest part I find is getting a hold of credible and accurate lead sources for your market. many lead suppliers claim that they have leads to suit your market and the cross sections that you want to target but even the decent ones are often diluted with junk leads.