With the influx of emails that your contacts receive every day, staying relevant in their inbox is a tricky and competitive game. Sending one-size-fits-all marketing emails isn’t going to cut it; instead, targeted and personalized emails are the path to increased open and click rates.

Your email list and contact records are some of your most valuable business assets as they contain everything your contacts have told you about themselves since day one. Using that information to segment and personalize your communication with your list shows your leads and customers that you’ve been paying attention and care about them as individuals.

Take Automation XL Founder Luke Ward, for example. Before moving his business over to Ontraport, the average open rate in his main lead nurture email campaign for new subscribers was 22%. Luke says, “The first email started out at around 25% before interest in subsequent emails fizzled to open rates as low as 15%. I remember being particularly happy with one email in the sequence that had an open rate of 32% — my highest open rate by far.”

However, after switching to Ontraport, he gained the capability to hyper-target his contacts based on information and answers that he collected from them using smart forms with custom data fields. Luke proposed the question, “What is your biggest challenge right now?” to his web page visitors and then provided three answers in a dropdown menu from which his contacts could select. Once they submitted the form, he was able to segment his list based on their individual responses to that question.

This allowed him to identify each contact’s biggest pain point, challenge or interest so that he could follow up with targeted email content to help solve their problems more effectively. Through one of his segmented lead nurture campaigns, Luke now gets an average email open rate of 43% and click-through rate of 20% — almost double his previous average.

Creating a high-converting email marketing campaign like Luke’s is quite simple. Here’s how to do it:

Gather Customer Information

Before you can confidently segment your leads and customers into targeted interest groups, you have to collect a baseline of information about them. The most effective way to collect this information is via the form on your opt-in page for your free value offer or your product offerings.

This opt-in page has two jobs: to convince your prospects that your business offers the solution to their challenges/interests/desires and to host the form that will collect their contact information to be stored in your CRM. In a database CRM, a contact record is where all the personal and up-to-date information you have about a contact is located.

For this segmentation campaign, you will need to know some basic information: their name, email, and a small bit of personal information, such as what challenges they are facing or what their interests are.

If you are using Ontraport, you can create custom fields to easily collect the unique information you need about your contacts (e.g., their biggest challenges, interests, desires etc.). Custom fields expand on the traditional fields already present in most CRMs, such as first name, email and address, and are crucial to segmenting your incoming leads into interest groups.

In Luke Ward’s example, he added a dropdown custom field that he named “What Is Your Biggest Challenge Right Now?” He then added three options for the dropdown menu: “Traffic,” “Conversions” and “Engagement.”

Most likely, the questions and solutions you are offering will differ from Luke’s. You can add as many questions/problems as you would like; although, it’s important to keep in mind that asking for more information than you need can be off-putting to contacts. Just make sure that you align people’s problems (or interests or challenges) to the solutions/products that you offer.

Personalize Their Experience With Your Brand

Once your leads have opted in on your page and answered the questions on your form, you can deliver the item they opted in for and continually market to them with content and offers relevant to the challenge/problem/interest they selected.

This is where the personalization really comes in. For each solution you provide, you will create content that specifically addresses the concerns that your contacts have. Routing all these contacts to the correct content is done automatically through a campaign — specifically through conditional elements.

Here’s how it works: In Ontraport, once contacts have met the campaign trigger you select — in this case the trigger would be visiting your landing page — they are pulled onto your campaign map. Their next milestone is achieving your goal, which is the action of submitting the smart form embedded on that landing page. Once that form is submitted, your contacts are seamlessly routed onto different paths based on their answers.

Conditional elements in Ontraport are what allow you to send contacts down a number of different paths, based on criteria that you set. Since you have created custom fields that are updated with your prospects’ answers, you can use those exact fields to automatically funnel them onto the correct path to receive their content.

Track Your Performance

The campaign doesn’t have to stop once your contacts have received their individualized content — you can further automate your follow-up and track how your segmented email campaign is performing.

Along your segmentation campaign, you can assign tags, which are labels that you attach to all contacts who reach a certain point in your campaign. This will allow you to easily identify them later and add them to groups. Groups are dynamic and criteria-based collections of contacts that automatically update when a contact qualifies to be a member or no longer meets the criteria. You can perform Group actions such as send an email, subscribe to a different campaign, send an SMS, or whatever you’d like. In Ontraport, you can even actively test which of your email subject lines or content types are performing the best by split testing the emails you send out. Simply choose what percentage of contacts get each variation of the email through weighted split tests. Then, track the open rate, click-through rate, and unsubscribe rate performance of those emails either through goals on your campaigns or directly in the Messages Collection.

Split testing gives you further insight into what types of content your contacts are most attracted to so you can continue to hone in on creating the most relevant content possible.

The more relevant you can get with your email messages and other marketing outreach, the more likely you are to connect with leads and customers in ways that make them stick around for the long-term.

About Tatiana Doscher
Campaign Strategist Tatiana Doscher is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara with a dual B.A. in Communication and Global Studies. After working with several small and local businesses, Tatiana joined Ontraport’s Marketing team. She loves running, hiking and enjoying Santa Barbara’s beautiful beaches.