“Keep your distance, Chewie, but don’t, y’know, look like you’re keeping your distance…I don’t know. Fly casual.” Episode VII of Star Wars is on its way to shattering box office records, but do you remember when Han Solo said this to his trusty co-pilot, Chewbacca? And how does the flying style of a Wookie relate to modern marketing?
First thing is first, the quote above hails from Episode VI as a small Rebel force flies toward Endor in an effort to disable the shields of the powerful Death Star. Besides my ability to fulfill a lifelong goal of using the term, “Wookie,” in semi-professional writing, “fly casual,” is great advice to the modern marketing and sales teams as well.
As marketers, we must toe the dangerous line of providing the right information at the right time as opposed to being overbearing or too “in your face.” In order to “fly casual,” as marketers, it is important to utilize one of the more underrated and often forgotten tools available via marketing automation systems: the exclusion segment. Think about a marketing campaign that your company has run in the past. Perhaps it is to promote a new piece of content. Maybe you are attempting to drive event registrations for a conference that you are hosting. It could even be a simple holiday greeting. In order to execute a successful campaign, the list/segment/group of contacts to be included must be targeted in an effective manner to guarantee the best results. Below are some ways that you can channel your inner Space Bear by implementing exclusion segments in your marketing campaigns:
Bounces – In the world of email marketing there are many specific types of bounces that can occur, but the overarching categories are “hard” and “soft” bounces. Hard bounces such as a domain suppression or invalid email address will automatically be suppressed from future sends in most systems, but “soft” bounces will retry sending to the recipient for a designated period of time. In order to protect your sender integrity and boost deliverability, build a dynamic segment for any email address that has bounced within the last 45 days and suppress these addresses from your future sends.
Over-sending – If you are a sophisticated user of a marketing automation platform, you have most likely built separate, customized campaigns based on specific user actions. However, what if an individual downloads multiple pieces of content on your website, attends your event, and subscribes to your weekly newsletter? This contact could be subjected to an unwanted bombardment of emails which could lead to frustration and an ultimate “unsubscribe” action. Consider building a dynamic segment that contains anyone who has received an email in the last 1, 3, 5, or 7 days, depending on your company’s regular, desired email cadence. Use this segment as an exclusion in order to prevent harmful over-sending.
Unwanted subscribers – If you are running a lead generation campaign of some sort, chances are that you have a fair number of contacts in your database that should not be receiving this type of messaging. These people could have even subscribed to your communications at some point, and it takes a consistent effort to eliminate such contacts. A few examples could be competitors seeking intelligence, investors, board members, partners, employees (former too), or contractors. This third exclusion segment use case requires your marketing and sales teams alike to deliberately flag/mark contacts as falling into one of these categories, but the extra effort may very well pay off in the long run!
Hammering your entire email list over and over with “one size fits all” messaging has long grown outdated. Even the prestigious Admiral Ackbar agrees, “It’s a trap!” As marketers, we are no longer measured on blasting thousands and thousands of emails into a galaxy far, far away. Boost your marketing into “Lightspeed” in 2016 by using the basic principles of exclusion segments listed above, and you will see your email deliverability and click through rates lift off like the Millennium Falcon. May the force be with you.