E-mail, which is well into its teens, is still viewed as a cheap,
yet effective marketing channel. But as the medium starts to mature,
sales and marketing teams may have to ramp up spending on their e-mail
programs in order to separate their brands from the pack, reach new
prospects and cultivate existing clients.
However, devoting more of your budget to e-mail campaigns is just
half the battle to garnering decent returns. Many companies tend to
create one-size-fits-all e-mail programs that get blasted regardless of
who the end-user may be (like a howitzer being deployed to shoot an
army of gnats).
“You need to segment and target appropriately and often it takes
more time and resources to make that happen,” said Nicholas Einstein,
director of strategic and analytic services for Datran Media, a marketing services and technology company whose clients include Entrepreneur.com, Lycos and ValueClick.
E-mail programs need “to be a) automated, b) segmented and c) perfectly
integrated with [your] Web site to ensure you’re getting people right
when they’re signing up.”
Overall, 58% of marketers said they planned to increase their e-mail budgets in 2009, according to a survey
released in April by Datran Media. The company took the pulse of more
than 3,000 industry executives from Fortune 1,000 companies and
Einstein, who blogs at
“the other einstein” (hats off), said that e-mail programs should
feature relevant content, such as white papers, links (and invitations)
to Webinars, information about upcoming virtual events “or any drivers
of leads.” But smart packaging of content is a nonstarter unless it is
Indeed, segmentation is key. Open rates for segmented versus
non-segmented campaigns are as much as 20% higher on average for the
first 30 days, according to MarketingSherpa’s “Email Marketing Benchmark Guide 2008.”
Click rates for segmented versus non-segmented campaigns are doubly
high for the first 30 days, with a slight increase for 60-90 days,
while click rates for segmented versus non-segmented campaigns are five
times higher the last 90 days of the year, the study said.
Because they are on the front line, sales execs can be the
innovators of new e-mail programs depending on the audiences’ needs.
But executing and managing the execution of email campaigns is a job
that’s increasingly being left to marketing.
Einstein said he is seeing more and more e-mail campaigns that are
centralized. Clients “are taking away some autonomy sales teams have
had in the e-mail space, because, quite honestly, you get into
situations about compliance and CAN-SPAM issues,
and it can get hairy having sales teams sending out promotional
messaging” to people who have potentially unsubscribed to the material.
The happy medium is when IT can integrate sales and marketing and
provide a bridge between inbound and outbound efforts. “We have seen a
lot of success launching triggered and serialized messaging programs
based on behavioral targeting,” Einstein said. “When prospects are
taking action on a Web site, it’s important to leverage this behavior
to target relevant messaging that nurture the lead and help foster
Intensely focus on the new members of your list.Be sure that the messaging you send first properly manages recipient expectations about the email program while accomplishing core business objectives. Response rates will be highest for these messages, so focus on appropriately leveraging this opportunity. I believe the welcome message stream may be the most important tool in an emarketer’s arsenal for driving near-term engagement with a product or service.
One message is [almost] never enough. Consider splitting your long winded, scrolling welcome message into a series of messages sent over the first week+ of a new user’s tenure. Try for shorter messages with clear calls to action and relevant content based on lifecycle.
Take time to identify key performance metrics that appropriately reflect business goals. KPI’s are different for every business and every campaign, but ensuring that the metrics you select directly correlate to your core business objective is key. Many tests include a conversion or customer lifetime value metric, as well as engagement metrics based on clicks, click stream tracking, or time on site.
Measure your test against a control group to isolate and quantify learnings. Good email programs are data driven and test v. control is how to generate actionable data. Whether you’re executing simple A/B tests or more sophisticated multivariate efforts, be sure your control groups are well defined and that your test is constructed in such a way that you’ll easily be able to quantify and compare your success metrics.
Test, learn, repeat. Start with the lowest hanging fruit, but then continue to test and optimize. Extend learnings throughout other programs and continue to hone your communications to new members. If you’re not testing an important variable on virtually every message that goes out the door, you may be wasting a valuable opportunity.