There has been such a rush to “optimize” performance of digital marketing channels recently that folks have turned from buying email lists (old-school, direct marketing style) to purchasing lists and “targeting” them to no end.
I am a huge proponent of “targeting,” and I frequently proclaim that data is queen and content is king. Data can mean many things, from know-your-customer to ROI-forecasting models and digital channel optimization based on channel specific benchmarks. Data, when used well and sprinkled with common sense can turn aimless marketing into visionary marketing.
I experienced an extreme “targeting” case that was missing common sense recently, when I received an email from one of those online dating services. You know who they are – those guys who buy your info from a list management company and then claim they know you better than you know yourself, and they can find you a match better than your mother can. The subject line of the email said “Happy xy Birthday!” The xy here represents the age I was turning, and let’s just say, it’s not an age that makes me excited about getting my first drink. Nor is my age a number that signifies the start of a new decade.
I’ll give them points for the effort, but except for taking the data and merging it into the subject line did they take any time to think where mentioning the age would be appropriate? Generally it’s considered tactless to ask for someone’s age, especially if they are over 30. So why blatantly plug in the age in an email subject line?
If you think I may be wrong, and you’re planning this sort of campaign, please prove me wrong buy building this in as a test market-cell. Build out a market-cell for females age 30+ who would get a simple “Happy Birthday,” and another for males age 30+ who would also get a simple “Happy Birthday” and compare the results to two market-cells with similar demographics but that would receive the email with the age-customized subject line. Go ahead and compare these results against similar market-cells for customers who are younger than 3o. You should end up with 6 market-cells (not considering the hold-outs), 3 for the 30+ group and 3 for the below 30 group. And, as always, it’s recommended to keep hold-out groups as well (random 10% of your test group or a statistically significant number, whichever is higher).
Data is queen, but even queens need common sense. How many people come to you on your birthday and tell you “Happy xy Birthday” unless it’s a special number? It hardly ever happens and if my friends don’t talk to me like that, I don’t want some strange dating service who bought my info from a list service to do so. Not to mention that they missed the biggest targeting element of them all – I’m not single.