Gone Fishing

With summer here, I’m looking forward to a favorite pastime shared with my father: fishing!  I got to thinking about what’s needed to make this fishing trip a success and chuckled at the similarities to how marketers approach an email marketing campaign. It seems like an apt time to have a little fun and use this fishing trip as an analogy (or shall we say methodology) for approaching your email marketing programs. So let’s go fishing!

1.     Gather your gear. Poles, bobbers, sinkers, lines, baits, hooks and the all-important tackle box – the idea is that you need to have the right gear in place. In email marketing, that translates to a technology and personnel infrastructure that supports an integrated approach to marketing strategy and measurement across the marketing mix.

Key email marketing technology “gear” includes:

  • A campaign management or marketing automation system
  • Integration with your database
  • The ability to automate email delivery based on behavioral or stated data
  • Dynamic reporting across all emails through a single platform



2.     Go to the right fishing hole. Looking for salmon? Find out their migration path and camp out in one of their holding areas. Timing is important too, as you have to know when they will be moving through. Those responsible for email marketing can learn a lesson here: casting the occasional wide net is fine, but we need to develop a segmented approach to our mailings if we’re going to capture the attention of our audience. Lifecycle email marketing accomplishes this by targeting individuals in clear, distinct time frames within the consumer or product lifecycle (new customers, loyalists, advocates, etc.). Try to mimic the same approach for your other full file mailings, and change the approach based on known or inferred consumer data points.

3.     Bait that hook. Now that we’ve gathered our gear and selected a population to target, it’s time to put on the bait! Different baits work for different types of fish: frogs for bass, sardines for salmon.  What works for your targets? Are your customer segments motivated by financial (loyalty points or cash credits) or non-monetary incentives? You’ve got to understand what bait will lure in your audience. Which leads me to my next point…

4.     Test the waters and wait.  Testing is paramount. I know, waiting for the fish to bite takes patience. You might need to move location and adjust strategy to really gain the success you’re looking for. But watch that bobber – when it goes completely under the surface, you should set that hook quickly! Abandoned cart messaging is a great example of how marketers capitalize on the dialogue that a consumer has initiated to bring the sale to a close. Test out different components of your lifecycle email marketing to find out which segmentation and offer strategies produce the best results.

5.     Catch and release. After catching that all-important prize, many fishermen put the game back in the water so it can grow bigger, reproduce and get caught again in the future. Same is true for email marketing. With a goal of increasing lifetime value, we want our customers to bring us more business, by developing into repeat customers and brand advocates who help draw in new customers. To cultivate this robust customer relationship, we need to handle with care.  Don’t catch and overburden at the wrong time.  Increase customer lifetime value by continually meeting a customer “where they are at.”

Follow this approach, and your email marketing campaigns will be bringing in bigger catches than ever.

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