I recently had the chance to speak with Josh Bland from Technology Advice on his B2B Nation podcast. We chatted about targeted email marketing and how to create value in your customer communications using SendGrid’s sending mantra of sending the right message, to the right person, at the right time, with the right frequency.

Finding the perfect balance of sending personalized emails to your recipients can be tricky, so we’ve broken down some tips from our conversation below, or check out the full interview here:



4 Tips to Improve Your Targeted Email Marketing

Josh Bland: Would you agree that trying to target the right person has changed the most compared to the other segments of your motto (sending the right message, to the right person, at the right time, with the right frequency)?

Jillian Wohlfarth: It probably should be changing the most. It’s interesting that not all marketers are using all of the data at their disposal, especially purchase behavior, to their benefit. And sometimes marketers get their signals mixed. For example, if you’re buying a gift for your husband or your wife on a retail site and then that site starts sending you personalized emails based off of the preferences of your husband or wife and not you, there’s a real disconnect there.

There is still a lot of room to grow for senders to really understand targeted personalization and the right person to message to, because it’s easy to get that confused. The marketers who are doing it right are using that data to really create that super personalized experience.

JB: Can you freak people out with too much data and too much information?

JW: Absolutely. That’s definitely something that we try to coach senders about. It’s great to have all of this data but there’s also a way to use it incorrectly, when it’s too personal and it feels like you’re in someone’s personal space. The inbox is kind of a sacred place and recipients don’t want to feel like they’re being intruded upon. Sometimes when marketers get overly personal with their targeted email marketing, it can feel that way. You have to find the right balance between speaking to the right person with the right message, but not going overboard where it feels like you’re overstepping.

JB: You want to find that line between personalization and including too much information. Where do you draw the line?

JW:  I think it comes down to the question of when do you want that one-to-one conversation and when you want the one-to-many. It’d be great if we could all send personalized one-to-one emails to all of our subscribers. But when that’s not an option, you can make your one-to-many conversation feel like it’s one-to-one. To do that, it’s’ really important to segment out your subscriber list.

Break down your list by looking at those recipients who have engaged with you a lot, haven’t engaged with you very much, or haven’t engaged at all. Split your list that way initially and then learn how to talk to each of those segments. Then you can test your messaging within each of those segments to make sure you’re in that comfort zone–you’re personalizing, but you’re not going too far. Segmentation is one of the greatest tools that we have in our email marketing tool kit. It’s really important to test those segments to see which one is working best for your subscribers first, and then for your business.

JB: What beyond clicks and the open should marketers look at?

JW:  Clicks and opens are absolutely great things to look at for engagement, and to let you know how your message and content is resonating, how your template is performing, and also how your brand is resonating. But marketers should also be looking at their delivery rates. Your clicks and opens are not going to matter if your email is not getting to the inbox.

Return Path found that 21% of wanted emails don’t make it to the inbox. That’s startling for marketers–when email is such an important tool for ROI and a fifth of your emails aren’t making it. A lot of it is making sure that you set up your infrastructure correctly and that your content is really valuable. A lot of the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like Gmail and Yahoo are looking at how many people are moving your emails to spam, mass deleting, or conversely, how many readers are scrolling through your emails or forwarding them to other people. Marketers really need to be focusing on valuable content and sending them at the right frequency and not over-communicating. Once you optimize your delivery rates, you can look at your opens and clicks.

Thanks so much to Josh and Technology Advice for having me! If you’re interested in more ways to improve your targeted email marketing, check out our Email Marketing Survival Kit and for more deliverability advice, read our 2019 Email Deliverability Guide.


Jillian Smith
As SendGrid's Director of Content, Jillian is responsible for ensuring that SendGrid provides valuable thought leadership content through the blog, whitepapers, webcasts, and more. When not writing and editing, you can find Jillian frequenting Denver restaurants in search of the best queso.