Many email marketers who use Microsoft Outlook rarely focus on the one thing that that almost always results in increased responses: contact list segmentation. In this post I am going to show you how you can use Outlook categories to segment your contacts.
What is segmentation and why does it work?
Segmentation basically means dividing your email list into smaller groups (or segments). Each contact can be part of one or more segments.
So why does segmentation work? It allows you to give your contacts more personalized attention.
You are now able to send out more specific emails targeted to people who are interested in that particular topic. This always results in higher open rates, click rates and response rates.
It also means less annoyed customers received emails on topics that they are not interested in.
How to you segment your list?
We will use Categories (a feature built into Outlook) to segment our contacts.
1. Make a list of the Segments (Categories) that you will use
What are the key elements to distinguish your customers? It could be product, company size, region… whatever makes sense to your business.
Make a list of these segments. For example, we have a range of products at Standss that are reasonably different. We could therefore segment our list based on products.
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I also like to keep a separate segment of our Volume License Customers since they have further requirements for deployment, control and support.
Volume License Customers
2. Add the Categories to Outlook’s Master List (of Categories)
Go to your Contacts folder in Outlook.
Right-click over a contact and click Categorize and then click All Categories.
Click New and enter the Name of your category. You can also choose a color if you want but I generally select None. Click OK.
Hint: You will see that I have named my category ml_EmailMerge instead of just EmailMerge. I use the ml_ in front of all my segment names to indicate that they are my mailing list categories. The master category list appears in all parts of Outlook (emails, appointments, tasks etc). By putting the ml_ in front of my mailing list categories, I can get them to appear together in the list when they are displayed alphabetically.
3. Assign your contacts to the relevant segments.
Go to your Contacts folder in Outlook.
Right-click over a contact and click Categorize.
You can click the category from the list or you can click All Categories and then select multiple categories for a contact if you want.
Repeat for all relevant contacts.
Viewing Your Various Segments
Once you have your contacts segmented, you will need Outlook to show you the contacts by segment so that you can use them easily.
Go to your Contacts Folders.
Click on the View Tab and Click on Categories (which will be in the Arrangement group)
Your contacts will now be displayed grouped by Categories. Contacts will be displayed more than once if they are in more than one category.
You can simply type the name of the Category in the Outlook Search box and only matching contacts will be shown
How to use your Categories/Segments in Sales and Marketing Emails
The next time you need to send out an email that is relevant only to a particular segment, display the list of contacts in the segment as explain above.
Then create your email and send it out only to the people in that segment.
I guarantee that you will get much better responses rates… and you will also get less emails from annoyed contacts asking to be removed from your list (since you will only be contacting people who are genuinely interested in your email).
Fine-Tuning Outlook emails to segments (Better Responses in Less Time)
If you want to get even better response rates, you should send out personally addressed emails to your contacts.
This means that each email should only have one contact’s name in the To field. You may even want to personalise the email with the contact’s name and other details.
This can be time-consuming to do if you try and do it by hand.
We recommend Email Merge Pro for Outlook. Email Merge Pro installs inside Outlook and uses a step-by-step Wizard to quickly create and send out personalized emails to selected contacts.
Best of all, the emails will still be sent out from Outlook instead of looking like emails from a mailing service. This is extremely important, particularly if you are dealing with larger customers.
Email Merge Pro has full support for Categories so that you can easily send out emails to segments when you need to.
You can reclaim a lot of your time and energy wasted on emails by automating repetitive tasks. Outlook has a built-in feature called Quick-Steps that makes it easy to create your own automations.
The easiest way to show you the power of QuickSteps is with an example.
Our company owns a property that is rented out. The property is managed by another company for us. When any repairs etc need to be carried out, they get the appropriate vendors to come in and do the work. Once the work is successfully completed they send us a copy of the vendor’s invoice so that we can pay the vendor directly. These emails are usually sent to me.
When I receive these emails, and assuming that everything is OK, I do the following:
1. Forward the email to my Accounts person and advise them to make the payment (Click Forward, type the person’s email address, type Please Pay and then click Send)
2. File a copy of the original email in a folder inside Outlook called Properties. (This can be done by dragging and dropping or using QuickFile for Outlook.
You can use QuickSteps to reduce all of the above to the CLICK OF ONE BUTTON.
Creating the QuickStep
On the Home tab of the Ribbon, click QuickSteps-New QuickStep -Forward To
Enter an appropriate name.
If I only wanted to forward the email (And not do the second filing step), I can simply enter the email address in the space provided and clicked Finish).
Click the Show Options hyperlink.
Enter an email address in the To field (or click the To button and choose an email address).
Enter any text that you want to be displayed in the email that will be forwarded.
The QuickStep now contains everything needed to Forward the email. Time to add the filing component.
Click Add Action
Choose Move to Folder and select the folder you want to move the email to.
Note on an Outlook Bug:
There is a bug in Outlook that sometimes prevents the QuickStep from being saved. Clicking Save does not give an error message but the screen does not close either. If this happens to you, the solution is to type the whole email address again (the email that was in the To field earlier).
Using the QuickStep
Using the QuickStep is easy.
Click QuickStep on the Ribbon and select the new QuickStep. Outlook will automatically carry out your programmed actions.
You can also right-click over the email in your Inbox and select QuickSteps from there.
Start automating today…
What do you do daily that you can use QuickSteps for? Let us know by leaving a comment in the blog below.
(While QuickSteps can assist with email filing as shown in the example above, if you have more than just a few folders, we recommend the QuickFile for Outlook addin.
Do you find yourself turning up at appointments late (or stressfully on time)? The problem may not be related to having too much to do but instead to how you schedule your appointments.
The secret to stress-free appointments is what happens before and after the appointment!
For me appointments are basically things I need to do at a specific time and day. These include work related meetings with others, work related things I need to get done on my own, as well as personal things such as taking my son to music or playing golf.
I used to find myself frequently “arriving” late to appointments until one of my new golfing friends told me that 4 PM golf means you should be ready to tee off (start playing) at 4, not arrive in the car park at 4.
Learning to be on time for golf has helped me discover some rules that have helped me use appointments in a more productive and less stressful way.
1: Is there enough time to finish off from any previous appointment (before this appointment)
Do you need to make notes or schedule follow-up actions after the previous appointment is over?
If you’ve been working on something on your own, have you allocated enough time to save your files in the correct folders etc?
Have you allocated enough time to do that before the start of the next appointment?
2: Have you given yourself enough time to prepare or to get to the meeting?
If the meeting is somewhere else, have you allocated enough time for travel (and taken into account the amount of traffic at that time of day)?
This is one I frequently got wrong when taking my son to guitar lessons. I underestimated the time to pick him from school, take him for a milk shake (might as well make the guitar lesson a weekly father-son event), and then end up at the lesson.
If it’s a sales meeting, have you given yourself enough time to get familiar with the client and the offer?
3: Have you given yourself enough time after the appointment?
This is the same as #1 but for this meeting instead of the previous appointment. It is liberating to finish a meeting knowing it’s finished (instead of knowing that you need to take time out later to make notes etc).
What does this mean for your Outlook Appointments?
Before you set an appointment in your Outlook Calendar, make sure that there is enough space between that appointment and the ones before and after.
If it’s an appointment with yourself then you can create a meeting slot that includes the before and after time.
If it’s an appointment with someone else, then you probably want to make the start of the meeting the actual meeting time. In that case make sure that there is enough free space before the meeting for you to travel, prepare etc.
Outlook also lets you set Reminders for appointments. By default this is set to 15 minutes but you can change this to whatever you want for individual appointments.
Change the reminder to give yourself enough before the meeting to get to the meeting on time and fully prepared.
Final thoughts…Don’t Schedule too much into your day!
There is a lot of research that now shows that we can get much more done if we schedule regular breaks during our day as well. That was probably the idea behind morning tea and afternoon tea (or the equivalent coffee breaks in modern times).
So remember to take a break.
I hope this tip helps you to get more important things done with less stress.
Please leave a comment if you find this useful… or have your own tips to better appointments.
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