Finding value in your email database – Who, What and When

Sending the exact same emails to everyone in your database is boring and outdated. Don’t underestimate the power of personalisation, it can actually go a long way! Think about it, would you rather be sent super generic emails all the time, or see some content within emails that is actually relevant to you and your interests? 

One way to utilize email marketing tactically is knowing who to target, what to say to them, and when to get in contact. 

Let’s paint a picture… imagine your online store is the bricks and mortar kind…

Starting with who to target: if a customer enters your store, doesn’t engage with you, and looks quite happy browsing on their own, it’s probably best to hang back. Let your presence be known, but then allow them to get on with it. Don’t invade their personal retail therapy bubble with an over-the-top grin and tannoy-voice greeting. 

Conversely, if someone is indicating that they need help and then proceed to engage in a full-blown conversation with you about your kitchenwares collection, you should go ahead and promote your new line of chopping boards! By all means, show them the matching knife set too!

It’s the same when it comes to emailing your customers; be savvy about who you’re contacting and how often you’re reaching out. If a customer’s purchase history shows a one-time purchase of a potato peeler, don’t bombard them with email campaigns promoting your new kitchenware. On the other hand, if a customer’s purchase history shows that they’ve bought lots of kitchen accessories from you, they’re probably more likely to be interested and engage with your new line. 

Some people want to be contacted more, and some people want to be contacted less. If your email campaigns have taken time and effort, let’s make sure they’re being enjoyed, appreciated and likely to convert into sales, rather than ending up being marked as spam. 

Next is what to say or offer: this involves understanding customer buying habits and interests. Let’s say a customer is browsing some brightly coloured kitchen utensils. Do you approach them with the new line of monochrome bedding sets, or do you point out the new chopping boards with multicoloured handles? 

Spoiler alert: it’s the latter. You could argue that “Actually, maybe they’ve just moved into a new house and are in fact looking for all kinds of home goods.” That’s a fair point to make, but at that precise moment, they’re looking specifically at colourful kitchen accessories. Surely it doesn’t make sense to bring them a product that is 1) related to another room of the house and 2) a completely different colourway to the other products they’re drawn to.

So, similarly, when you have data like customer purchase histories- use this to your advantage. If your collection of colourful kitchenware is going on sale, promote this offer to the customers who have previously purchased kitchen accessories, or other brightly coloured household goods. 

A grandmother who made a one-off gift purchase of boxer shorts for her grandson doesn’t necessarily belong in your mailing list for all future menswear marketing campaigns. 

Understand your database better so you can optimize what offers or content you send out.

Rounding off with, when to make contact: a bricks and mortar store analogy isn’t required here. Quite simply, being savvy about knowing when to approach someone with an offer can help you avoid offering big discounts to those who are going to buy anyway or can help you to avoid losing a customer to a competitor who might be giving them an offer when you’re not.

Analysing customer order patterns will help you avoid unnecessary discounting and help pinpoint which customers might need the friendly nudge of a discount code to complete their purchase. 

So take a step back. Are there customers who make purchases year-round regardless of if there are any commercial holiday deals? Bar the odd up-selling email, maybe it’s okay to let those sales take care of themselves and concentrate on those cart abandoners and those bargain-grabbing customers who only seem to purchase when there’s an offer. 

Email marketing automations will be your best friend here. They’ll get you thinking a bit more about when your email campaigns should be going out. 


Ultimately, each and every one of these points is about understanding your database. Don’t just send out mass emails that you won’t reap rewards from. Understand your database, personalise and then watch your email marketing efforts come to fruition. 

It’s like trying to sell the exact same item to every single customer who walks through your door. 1) you’ll probably annoy lots of people who aren’t interested and 2) irrelevance is a biiig (yes, three ‘i’s for dramatic effect) deterrent for lots of shoppers. 

So take some time to observe your customers first, watch their habits and then approach with a better understanding of who they are and who they’re buying for, when is a good time to step in, and what products they need a little nudge with.

The way to do this with online sales is to keep on top of your basic metrics. Who are your highest spenders? What are they buying? When are they buying? Then tailor your marketing to get the most out of them! 

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