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Who doesn’t love cake?! I know that I do (gooey chocolate to be precise)! That’s why I’m super excited to bring you the next guest for our “Spotlight on” series.

Katie Seegers, is Associate Email Marketing Manager for Betty Crocker at General Mills. Being a digital veteran of 15 years, Seegers has looked after the email strategy at world-renowned brands such as Target Corporation, Sleep Number and, to name just a few.

Seegers has a passion for direct marketing and believes that email should be at the center of every company’s overall marketing strategy. Done right and it can lead to a whopping increase in revenue of between 200 to 500 percent, she says.

Q. What role does email marketing play in your overall marketing strategy? 

A. Email marketing plays an important role in General Mills’ marketing strategy. It drives overall engagement and loyalty with our brands. In past roles, however, it also had an additional goal of driving direct sales.

Q. Do you have a team dedicated to email, or is it a shared responsibility across the marketing department? 

A. We have a dedicated team, or at least a dedicated strategist for the email channel. It is important to drive those initiatives with deeper expertise than a general digital marketer.

Q. Approximately how many email campaigns do you send per month? 

A. At Betty Crocker, we send campaigns every day, but tailor the cadence to the subscriber’s level of engagement. This allows us to inspire them with our content when they are most likely receptive to receiving it. Of course, the subscriber can always customize their preferences through our subscription center. We also layer these regular communications with seasonal programs based on elected preferences and behavior-based triggered emails.

Q. How do you use data to segment and personalize your email lists? 

A. Data is used to determine email frequency and content. The following are insights based on my collective email career and not specific to General Mills.

Recency of engagement: Engagement can be defined many ways – opens, clicks, purchases. I will often use one or more of these simple data points to determine how often to email a subscriber and with which campaigns. This is also a great indicator of when to move a subscriber to a reactivation campaign.

For example, if a subscriber has not opened or clicked any email you have sent them in the past X days, it may be time to give them a nudge with a unique communication and possibly an offer.

An advanced take on this strategy is moving from a one-size-fits-all cut off time period for everyone, to a more customized analysis of the subscribers decline in engagement. When engagement falls below their individual average or their segment’s average, it’s time to reach out to them with a re-engagement effort.

Explicit preferences: Preferences elected by the subscriber are a great way to segment your list. Zip code and gender are great examples of explicit preferences that most companies have gathered at sign-up. Knowing where the subscriber lives could help you tailor seasonal content (those impacted by a Nor’easter are not relevant to your whole list) or location specific content such as distance to their nearest store.

A word of caution here, only ask subscribers for information you plan to use. This will help to optimize the sign-up process and reduce barriers to providing the information.

Implicit preferences: Often I will use preference information that is inferred by the subscribers’ actions. This could be their web activity, source of their signup, email links they have engaged with, or purchase data. These types of metrics are great ways to tailor content for the subscriber on their behalf.

Q. What does success of an email campaign look like for you? 

A. Since General Mills is focused on driving engagement with its brands, its click-to-open rate is a key metric for us.

Similar to my stance on email test planning, it is very important to determine your key performance indicators and thresholds for success before deploying a campaign. For example, certain campaigns may be deemed successful by driving engagement with content, while other campaign measurement is how well it drove sales. Determining your key metrics upfront will keep you from the over-analysis and cherry-picking metrics to support your desired outcome that can occur post launch.

Q. With perhaps ‘sexier’ verticals out there such as social or video, where do you see the future of email marketing? 

A. I see the future of email remaining strong as long as marketers continue to personalize and target their communications. The ROI that the channel can bring is huge.

Q. What is your biggest piece of advice that you’d give a junior email marketer starting out in the industry? 

A. My biggest piece of advice is to constantly test. What you tested two months ago may no longer hold true today. Testing is like flossing, we know we should do it more than we actually do.