To leverage the benefits of email segmentation, you need a good database. And to build a good database, you need to understand what data is going to drive your business and email marketing programs. So let’s start with an email address and permission to mail to it. I know it seems obvious, but the most basic and fundamental building block of email is permission to send someone your message. It’s so important, in fact, that we’ll spend a whole chapter on it later. For now, we’ll focus on email address alone.
As you think about your organization, how much of a priority is collecting email addresses from your constituents? My guess is not nearly high enough. I want to clarify that email is not an acquisition tool—it’s a retention tool. Email is a nurturing tool. Email is a credibility-marketing tool. It seems as if 90 percent of marketing dollars are invested in acquisition programs, including keywords, banners, direct mail, TV, radio, billboards, and so on.
What I want to focus on is leveraging those acquisition tactics to acquire permission to continue the relationship. See the difference? For many organizations, leads come via the Web. Some marketing activity drives a prospect to your site or landing page, where a choice is presented: yes or no; buy, or go away. This is called macro-conversion. You buy a keyword to drive a prospect to a landing page to buy a DVD, or download a white paper, or schedule a demo, depending on your business.