To list or not to list? Sorry, but that shouldn’t be a question.

Smiling woman reading text messages over dinner in a bistro

Marketing is about getting the most pertinent message to the right audience at the ideal time. A little like revenue management – the right product to the right person at the right time and for the right price. But, unfortunately, there are many companies getting this wrong. And the big misstep? Email distribution lists. Or lack thereof.

One master list is not a list make. To truly be able to get the most pertinent message to the right audience at the ideal time, you need multiple email lists, segmented in a way that makes sense for your audience’s needs.

Let me give you a few examples of how lists can make all the difference:

  1. My son is on a local swim team with an area country club. We are not members of this club and only take advantage of the awesome swim program open to the public over the summer months. When I provided my email and contact information, it was for swim team purposes only. However, I receive multiple emails every day – yes, every day, about various club news, including golf news. Events, maintenance of the course, who got a hole in one and all the subsequent congratulatory comments for said hole in one. Unsubscribe.
  2. A friend recently bought a new house. She and her husband spent numerous hours researching and finally selecting the perfect dining room table to start designing their new home. The table was purchased on and they were beyond pleased. Because of Wayfair’s ability to segment and target their campaigns purposely, my friend started receiving emails about dining room chairs to go with her brand-new table. Can we say, “additional purchase” because of targeted messages that pertained to her needs at the time? Yes!
  3. We’ve entered multifamily conference season. Supplier partners in the industry are working even more diligently to build new client relationships by inviting them to their booths. Naturally it makes sense to send an email to the attendee list provided by conference planners. And I agree with this tactic to an extent. Yes, it is pertinent timing and yes, a lot of owner/operators do utilize conferences to learn about new businesses. However, conference attendees range across a broad spectrum of titles. Hitting all of the attendees with one mass email inviting people to come to your booth is a marketing misstep. Even those attendees, like LTM, which doesn’t own a single apartment community, will receive emails directed to apartment owner/operators. And don’t even think about using a last from previous years. I have already received a handful of emails about conferences I am not attending this year!

So how do you segment your lists effectively? There are many ways you can slice and dice a master list – and trust me, it is always an eye-crossing, time suck. But vitally needed to run a successful and impactful email marketing campaign. Here is how I would segment a conference list:

  • Supplier Partners: Track them but take them off your distribution list. Messages about how your service can help the portfolio they don’t have or how you can help them reach more prospective renters they don’t sell to are completely lost on supplier partners. If there is a way you think you could partner or work together, great, send them a one-off personal email.
  • Owner/Operators: This is definitely the fat part of the attendee list but not all owner/operators should be treated the same. Segment the list into decision makers and on-site professionals and craft messaging suited for each.
    • Current Customers: Within the owner/operator list you will find current customers. Great, segment them because they already love your product. Either offer them something new or, even better, have your teams send a personal email asking to connect while at the conference to check in.
    • Former Customers: This is another vital segment in the owner/operator list. And because sometimes relationships end badly, it is important to determine if this is a contact you wish to get back or someone you might just leave alone.

Email distribution list segmentation is a beast and one that needs constant attention and updating. If you spend the time upfront ensuring you have segmented your lists to better address your audience needs — not just to get your message out there — you are setting yourself and your teams up for success.

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