It's Time to Start Segmenting Your Email List
January 26, 2016
One of radio's biggest challenges is that it is the business of broadcasting. Decades ago, radio's big advantage was that it could deliver a message to a lot of people. Today, its big disadvantage is that it is sending the same message to all of those people. Unlike radio stations, online competitors can target ads based on information about individual audience members. (This is why that ad for a BB-8 Nightlight has been following you from website to website for the last six weeks -- you clicked on a link to the light at some point, and based on this behavioral data, different websites keep serving up the same ad.)
Increasingly, advertisers are looking at not just the size of your station's audience reach, but the qualities of the audience members. After all, there's no point in advertising beer to teenagers, makeup to men, or Yankees hats to Bostonians.
Unfortunately, the tools to appropriately target audio ads at different consumers are still emerging. However, there are other tools that allow us to target listeners very well -- especially email.
Broadcasters should collect data about their listeners and use this data to segment their email databases. This way, they can make sure that they only send relevant information to listeners. For example, a San Francisco radio station probably shouldn't send an email about events in the East Bay to listeners who live on the peninsula.
You might segment your email database by age, gender, or location. You can also target your emails based on behavioral data. For example, if a listener clicked on a link to Red Hot Chili Peppers concert info in a previous email, you may want to follow up with a link to your station's Red Hot Chili Peppers interview.
Your email service provider (ESP) allows you to create custom fields on your email signup form so you can collect any data you want, such as birthdate or gender. You can also use form-building software, like Formstack or the Gravity Forms plugin for Wordpress, to create a custom form and send this data to your email service provider. If you are using one service to create a form and another to send your emails, and you want them to automatically pass data back and forth, Zapier may be able to build a bridge between the services. (You may also want to look into more powerful tools like Hubspot, LeadPages, Marketo, or Eloqua.)
Now is the time for broadcasters to get comfortable with the practice of sending targeted messages with their email databases. It will be useful to have this experience under your belt when the tools for targeting audio content mature.