When do fewer emails mean higher ROI? When your emails are hyper-targeted and truly one-to-one. That doesn’t mean you need a huge team of people contacting customers one at a time, like the telemarketers of old. It only requires you to tap into existing technology and know-how to make it happen.
I like to say “happy birthdays mean happy profits” because birthday emails are a perfect example of this concept. When someone subscribes to get your emails, you get their birth date along with the other data you gathered about them upon signup. That date goes into your system and on or near the customer’s birthday, depending on how you have it configured; an email is automatically triggered offering a birthday bonus of some kind, like a free ice cream cone if you work for a chain of sweet shops, or a free movie rental if you’re marketing your video stores.
These emails get a remarkably high response rate because they are so targeted…and therefore, welcome.
You’re not limited to birthday emails, however, nor are triggered emails only appropriate for B2C marketing. Triggered emails come in three types—recurring, transactional and threshold—and can be used in a variety of circumstances:
In the past, marketers resisted moving from batch-and-blast to this kind of targeted, triggered approach because the cost seemed prohibitive. Between building the API and the software to handle the emails the technological cost made any chance of an ROI a slim one. Today, however, all top-tier ESPs and many secondary ones offer triggered messaging capabilities. That means you can make your email marketing program even more relevant without increasing your staff or IT costs.
Before we dive into the benefits and how-to’s of triggered emails, let’s review the terminology:
You’ll also need to define the event or events that trigger the website. The event might be a click on a website, time spent on a page with no shopping cart activity, a coupon download, or a link clicked in an email. Or, to return to our earlier example, it might be date driven like a birthday or anniversary.
One-to-one triggered emails have a much higher ROI so even though you’re sending out fewer emails, you’re making more money off the targeted ones. But what do you need to do to be set up for that kind of triggered email?
1. An ESP or in-house solution that enables triggered messaging
2. An API to automate the flow of data from your CRM or in-house database to your ESP or internal ESP
3. A content library, so your system can take from it to place the appropriate message in each email
Also consider that these types of emails typically use a transactional delivery engine vs. a marketing delivery engine, i.e. point-to-point transmission vs. one-to-many broadcast.
The one caveat happens when you start to collect the data upon which to define your rules. Do not ask for too much. You can ask for up to four pieces of information upon sign up, but any more than that, and your abandonment rate will soar. Instead, be very clear what information you want to start out with and only ask for that (based on what you can really use). Then over time you can ask for more information, and append that information to that subscriber later.
The idea of this kind of targeted email marketing might be daunting, but it’s really not difficult given today’s technology and pre-existing services. As a result, your triggered email messaging can be as sophisticated as you want to make it, to get the most ROI from your highest value customers. For example, your system can score a customer based on behavior, such as purchasing a higher-priced item, and offer an exclusive and limited price on another item as a reward.
Marketers have to start automating their email campaigns based on customer behaviors, such as shopping cart abandonment. Companies who’ve done this have experienced higher click through rates and conversion rates, without increasing staff costs. Alternatively, automating email programs around customer behaviors with hyper-targeted messages will result in a higher email marketing ROI.
And it leads to a higher engagement index, which means more of your subscribers are engaging with your email, which in turn will give you a better standing in the eyes of the ISPs…which in turn will improve your email deliverability and get you into more inboxes…and so on and so on and so on.
Sounds pretty happy to me!
- Marco Marini
Greisman also reported in the webinar that there is no significant update on the behavioral targeting protection guidelines that the FTC has had out for comment for over a year. “Nothing will happen without input from industry,” she said. Since the mandate from the FTC has been, “self regulate or else,” the webinar panelists Buck, Bartel and Dayman had a number of suggestions for marketers to follow best practices, including:
Marketers and everyone in the email industry can support the FTC, Greisman said. She suggests:
The legislative update webinar was sponsored by Eloqua, e-Dialog and Return Path, with technology sponsor GoToWebinar. The recording of the full event is free for eec members. More details on these and other legislative issues important to digital and direct marketers is in the DMA’s quarterly government affairs newsletter, Politically Direct.
- Stephanie Miller
Return Path & eec
So we are deep in a recession economy, marketing budgets and headcounts are being cut, yet we are seeing an increase in requests for the outsourcing of email production and campaigns. Why is this?
Well let's take a little time to explore the variables in play here. As marketers turn to more cost effective channels, email is becoming more popular than ever – according to a recent Forrester study the number of marketing messages for the average email user is predicted to double by 2014. This makes the email channel even more competitive and crowded, causing a dilution of open, click and conversion rates.
The only way to genuinely attract attention and boost performance is to send more relevant and personalized mails. To experienced email marketers this will not be news, and it is common wisdom nowadays to absolutely progress beyond broadcast (or blast) mailing tactics to attain any kind of click thru and conversion response.
There are a number of campaign types that increase relevance beyond broadcast, such as 'life cycle', 'clickstream' and 'targeted'. JupiterResearch states that these types of campaigns are up to 18 times more profitable than broadcast. Each of these types leverage known intelligence about the recipient, whether based on a user triggered event, online behavior, or persona driven. BUT in order to actually create a highly relevant campaign, each mail needs to be customized to each identified audience segment and ideally personalized for each recipient - both of which increase the number of steps and effort in the overall process of producing a campaign from start to finish.
You have a choice here: do you create individual email templates for each audience segment, or minimize the number of actual email templates and leverage conditional email content for a more dynamic 'data driven' approach. More email templates means more production effort to create, optimize and test each and every template – whereas the data driven approach needs more advanced skills/technology to design and test more complex templates.
Are we at a tipping point? Has the amount of extra effort, technology and skills required to execute more advanced email campaigns pushed email campaign production to a point where outsourcing makes more strategic and tactical sense? Perhaps. Organizations need to be competitive and need to consider ways to execute these types of campaigns. The tremendous ROI (as stated by Jupiter) more than outweighs the additional operating cost, so each and every marketing department who takes the email channel seriously will need to formulate a strategy here.
With headcounts diminishing, outsourcing is an obvious path forward. Having a tried and tested production team getting your mails out of the door in good time, with great quality (...under SLA), allows you to not only benefit from advanced campaign performance, but to focus your time on higher value marketing initiatives!
- Andy McCartney, Vice President of Strategic & Account Services, Premiere Global Services
Andy runs a team of email marketing gurus and specialists who help clients of all shapes and sizes with their emarketing initiatives. Advice and service engagements are delivered in areas such as strategy, campaign production, list health and deliverability. Andy has over 20 years of experience in marketing and services with hi-tech companies, including 10 years in business intelligence and analytics and 12 years in interactive marketing leadership roles.
Michael Kelly, Director of Business Development at ClickMail, recently presented at the Silverpop Summit. His presentation on email marketing metrics that matter was so well received, I thought it fitting to recap it here.
Titled "Proving Your Worth with Metrics," Michael's presentation was partly drawn from MarketingSherpa's 2009 Best Practices in Email Marketing Handbook which Michael played a part in pulling together. Get Michael's presentation for a preview of some of the compelling stats and numbers.
Michael covered why to measure, what to measure, and the challenges of measuring, among other topics, including what to do with that data once you have it, and new tools for compiling and learning from that data in real-time.
But why is measuring your data so difficult? Lots of reasons, including conflicting metrics and not knowing what to measure. In the email marketing industry, we suffer from conflicting metrics because there are so many things to measure. We measure how many mailed, delivered, opened, clicked through on and more. The lack of consistency in calculating key performance metrics makes it impossible to establish industry benchmarks or to effectively compare results.
Sometimes we forget that email marketing is about more than just clicks. Email can achieve numerous significant goals beyond a sale. The purpose of email marketing is to trigger an action, not only to get a click. That action might be a forward to a friend, signing up, a visit to a brick-and-mortar store, attending an event, or simply being more aware of a brand.
And knowing all those actions are possible reactions to your email makes measuring even more of a challenge!
Again, we're back to metrics. Remember, if you can't measure it, you can't improve it.
Real danger lurks in not measuring the right factors or not measuring accurately. You could suffer lost revenue. You might not know which messages are working. And your sales team won't know what to focus on. On the other hand, there are huge advantages to knowing your numbers so you can:
Improving click-throughs is one thing, but don't forget to also measure against your company's organizational goals. What is the point of all that email marketing anyway? There is a master goal, the big Kahuna, the big pie-in-the-sky reward your business is focused on. Make sure your email marketing measurements align with helping to achieve that goal. This might be increasing brand awareness or increasing sales.
What we've described here is the ideal world of email marketing metrics. In the real world, they're not so easy to get. Your ESP won't be able to provide you with this kind of data, but companies have found solutions in widgets and what we at ClickMail affectionately call "reportals": online dashboards that use API system calls to access data from ESPs.
You probably already know APIs are highly effective at automating the launching of emails, and managing the flow of data between disparate platforms. Now we at ClickMail are using APIs as a fantastic tool for extracting data to produce actionable reports.
To read about two organizations that have benefitted from the metrics possible with "reportals" and how your business might take advantage of a similar approach, request a copy of Michael's presentation.
Until next time, remember to measure - it's the only way you can improve!
- Marco Marini, ClickMail Marketing
In last week's eec/DMA webinar, Peder Magee, Esq., FTC Privacy and Theft attorney for the Bureau of Consumer Protection joined DMA's VP of Government Affairs, Jerry Cerasale, and a panel of email privacy experts to discuss the latest thinking at the agency.
For now, that stance seems to suggest that the self regulation of the industry is working. Magee noted that some concepts "transcend the medium" when it comes to self regulation. "Transparency, prominent notice, use of personal data, and providing the ability to opt out easily" all are areas the FTC continues to watch.
Certification and feedback loop programs were noted by panelist Tom Bartel, CPO of Return Path, as an example of how the industry cooperates in order to make self regulation work. Especially for certification programs, "Email marketers put themselves forward voluntarily to be held to high standards," Bartel says. "Including the things Peder listed about prominence. Once they are vouched for by the third party, the ISPs can make good decisions about what to do with email from those senders.
"Participation in these programs shows marketers are willing to go way past the law, and well past best practices," Bartel states.
The FTC remains aggressive about prosecuting offenders under CAN-SPAM. Magee says, "CAN-SPAM and some of the filtering technologies have reduced the spam that consumers were getting a lot more of." He notes that the agency also brings cases against phishing scams, often initiated through email. Webinar moderator and DMA VP of Government Affairs Jerry Cerasale noted, "The FTC is the most active regulatory body in this area. Opt-in laws in Europe have not resulted in as many cases as the FTC."
For too long, too many marketers have underestimated the value of email's impact on offline retail. Some believe that email marketing boosts only online sales, when in actuality cross-channel messaging carries high value across brand sales, reinforcing relationships with customers and, when optimally leveraged, alerting them to brick-and-mortar sales and events.
We've been seeing a wide range of approaches to retail store messaging in email. Here are some noteworthy tactics to try:
• In-Store Discounts: Entice subscribers into stores by telling them about a special deal that they can't get online. Victoria's Secret advertises a lotion giveaway only available in stores. Betsey Johnson's email alerts subscribers to an in-store-only "spend more, get more" gift card offer, where customers receive a gift card with their purchase, increasing in amount depending on their spending level. QFC invites subscribers to check out sale items at their local store, since deals vary across locations.
• Printable Store Coupons Bar Codes: Including barcodes or printable coupons in email, like Half Price Books and Janie and Jack, is becoming more common. It provides a way to measure the success of email in bringing people into stores, and is an effective way for email marketers to show marketing managers how the value of email reaches beyond online sales. The Container Store email gives a bit of a tease, asking subscribers to click to find out what the in-store offer is. While this has its charm, the extra step of requiring subscribers to click and download might deter some.
• Exclusive In-Store Products and Events: Email is an excellent way to spread the word about events or special offers happening only in stores. Starbucks sends a local events calendar that not only promotes the opening of a new store, but also demonstrates Starbucks' interest in their larger community. Pottery Barn Kids includes a module at the bottom of their retail customer messages about upcoming events at local stores, and REI promotes one of their free classes in a dynamic module.
• Promoting the In-Store Experience: Detailing excellent customer service offerings, such as the personal shopper touted in this J.Crew message, encourages subscribers to come in and interact with a brand representative in real life. This J.Crew message did miss an opportunity to dynamically populate the email with the subscriber's local store info (I know J.Crew has my address). Similarly, Apple reminds subscribers both of their great in-store service by including a picture of a blue-shirted expert alongside store offerings, and also by using beautiful store photography to make subscribers eager to experience in-store shopping.
• In-Store Charity Events: Using email to spread the word about in-store charity events both encourages involvement and reinforces a positive brand image. Gap's Give and Get program offers subscribers a printable coupon. White House Black Market invites subscribers in for "A Special Evening to Give Hope," during which shoppers received a discount and a portion of proceeds went to the organization Living Beyond Breast Cancer. The invitation makes the event seem like a special experience that subscribers don't want to miss.
• Prominent Store Directions: It's becoming more and more common for emails to include subscribers' local store info, as in REI holiday email and this Crate and Barrel email. When brands don't have subscribers' location information, most include links inviting subscribers to find their local store, as at the bottom of this Pottery Barn email.
• Invitations to New Store Openings: When brands have subscribers' location information, email is an effective way to spread the word about new store openings. Williams-Sonoma includes a special offer to encourage subscribers to come check out their new space. Urban Outfitters' store announcement takes it up a notch. Their creative shows a theme that fits city, includes an early bird offer to ensure a crowd when the doors open, and shows their commitment to the community by announcing their donation to a local scholarship fund.
• Personalized Invitations to Loyal Subscribers: The least common (but most awesome!) way email is used to get subscribers into stores is a personal email from a sales associate to loyal customers. Nordstrom personally invited their most loyal customers in for a sale screening before their anniversary sale.
Get the most bang from the inbox by optimizing cross-channel marketing opportunities. Remember that there's likely much overlap between your most loyal email subscribers and your loyal store visitors, and when there isn't overlap, aspire to create it!
Faithfully in Email and In-Store,
Lisa Harmon and Alex Madison, Smith-Harmon
I wanted to take a minute to thank you for all of your support of the eec so far. Thanks to fantastic people like you, the eec continues to grow in both size and stature within the email industry.
Over the past three years, the eec has been able to create a community that offers those from all areas of the email marketing industry the opportunity to come, learn and act collectively in positive ways that help change increase the respect and value that email receives from the marketing and advertising worldl.
Collectively, we have helped increase the ROI of email marketing, lobbied for better laws, stronger relationships with ISP's and better integration into other channels like social marketing, mobile markeitng and even search, display and TV. A few of us even wrote books about it!
With all that we have accomplished, we can't sit back and be satisfied. We need to strive for more! More effective email campaign results, more impactful creative, more leverage with ISP's, more innovation with the technologies we use, and more networking to strengthen our collective spirit.
It is with this call for MORE that I am pleased to extend a personal invitation for you to join me at EEC09 in Scottsdale, Arizona, February 9-11th. Use discount code JAN09 to register for just $999* (register at www.emailevolution.org).
Join me, Jeanniey Mullen, as well as our well respected powerful keynote speaker and father of Direct Marketing: Stan Rapp, along with David Daniels, Bill Nussey, Kath Pay, Peter Horan, David Baker, Stephanie Miller, Dela Quist, Ali Swerdlow, Loren McDonald, Stefan Pollard, Jeanne Jennings, Dave Hendricks, Bill McCloskey, Skip Fidura, Dylan Boyd, Aaron Kahlow, Chris Baggott and many other email superstars at this year's event.
In challenging times like these, attending conferences that offer insights and actionable learnings is critical. And, sometimes the networking that happens at the event proves to be even more beneficial. You have my word that you will not be disappointed at this event.
I really hope to see you there. And, if you can make it, drop me an email when you register: firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to say hi at the event and spend some time with you.
eec Founder and Executive Chair
*Only applies to new registrations
We all know that America's economy is hurting and that a lot of people (even those who aren't personally feeling the crunch) are worried enough to slow down their virtual and in-store shopping trips. Retailers aren't lying down and waiting for the storm to pass, though. Let's take a look at some of the interesting marketing emails that have been delivered by retailers working to push through the slump.
Creative Sales. Many retailers have responded to slow spending by getting more inventive with their sale techniques and infusing great deals with a sense of urgency.
● Old Navy's "Early Columbus Day Sale," with its 1,492 items priced at $14.92 or less, takes the cake for creativity in the sale category. Who would think that Columbus Day could feel like cause for retail excitement? It's early and limited-time, so it feels urgent, too.
● Threadless also has a sweet deal with a deadline, selling Girl's Tees (usually $18) starting at just $12 until Oct 12. The urgency and the significant savings strengthen the sale.
● Moosejaw's sale email generates extra excitement with its exclusivity, sending each subscriber their very own secret code that yields one of (what we must assume is) a selection of discount offers.
● J. Crew and Horchow are just two of many retailers who have been pushing limited-time free shipping messages over the past couple weeks. J. Crew's include the cute seasonal touch of asking subscribers to enter code "ACORN" at checkout, and both Horchow and J. Crew have sent multiple reminder count-down emails.
Straight Talk. Some have opted to confront the economic downturn head-on by mentioning it and even joking about it.
● Restoration Hardware sent a one-day-only "spend $400, save $100" voucher with a bailout theme on October 2. They may have missed the mark—as a joke, it's a bit off-color and politically-slanted. They were using current events creatively, which can be clever, but they probably should have played with something less controversial and stressful for many subscribers.
● Overstock.com launched a new Real Estate service on October 2, which they introduced in a letter at the bottom of this email beforehand. In the introductory letter, they remind subscribers that Overstock.com is committed to helping subscribers save money, and the letter makes their new service seem on-brand and sincerely subscriber-focused.
● Splendora also takes a branded attitude towards the economic crisis that is gutsy and dismissive, urging subscribers to check out the upcoming trends that they'll be able to shop after this "little rough patch."
Spend and Save. In line with Restoration Hardware's discount approach (but without the bailout theme), Bloomingdales, Boden and Neiman Marcus, among others, offered limited-time, "Buy More, Save More," offers (as Bloomie's called theirs). These not only encourage higher spending; they also encourage spending NOW, before the offer expires. The messages warn subscribers that their offer isn't waiting for Wall Street to stop reeling, and neither should you.
Many retailers are feeling the squeeze, and we're sure to see more and more unique approaches to email as the situations unfold.
Lisa Harmon and Alex Madison of Smith-Harmon
Please help us get the word out about the eec Speakers Bureau by including the following item in your next client newsletter or on your blog:
Email Marketing Experts Available to Speak at Your Next Event
Do you belong to an organization or group whose members could benefit from learning more about email marketing? Then please tell them that the Direct Marketing Association's Email Experience Council wants to help. The eec's Speakers Bureau has experts available across the U.S. and Canada who have committed themselves to helping email marketers maximize their return on investment and avoid pitfalls such as CAN-SPAM violations and being blacklisted. These industry veterans have waived all speakers' fees and can talk on a wide variety of topics, including…
● How Email Compliments Other Channels
● Obeying CAN-SPAM and Other Laws
● Getting and Maintaining Permission
● Ensuring Your Emails Are Delivered
● Growing a Large and Active List
● What to Send to Your Subscribers
To learn more and to request a speaker, please visit the eec's Speakers Bureau.
*Help us spread the word about this initiative by re-running this item in your client newsletter or on your blog. Thank you.
When consumers and business professionals worry about the economy, marketers find themselves squeezed. Such is the state of affairs these days as we head into the busy Q4/end of year/holiday season time.
Email can help if it's used effectively as part of a subscriber loyalty and relationship effort. Sending more of the same old batch-and-blast promotions will only flood the inbox, depress your deliverability, destroy your brand trust, and annoy good customers who are worried about their own bank accounts. Resist the urge to think of email as "free"—it's not free. It's cost-effective, certainly, but a mindset that characterizes the channel as free quickly leads to over-mailing. What you want is less email—but messages that are more effective because they are more relevant.
Who wants to be reminded to spend, spend, spend when we are worried about our financial health? Instead, take an active interest in helping your subscribers, and make sure your content and contact strategies are aligned with what the subscriber needs, not what you have to sell.
In a recession, your best buyers and loyal clients are even more important. When customers are easily distracted by lower prices or free add-ons at the competitor, it's even more important to make clear the benefits of staying with your brand. This does not mean offering more discounts, although that certainly can be an effective short-term strategy. Instead, expand your loyalty program and use email to provide both sizzle and steak. Replace just two of your generic, batch-and-blast messages this month with tailored messages around the benefits of sticking with your brand. Spend time on the subject lines and the copy (keep it brief) to make sure it resonates.
Then, deliver the benefits via email—a very efficient and effective way to connect. If you are ecommerce, add a Buying Guide or Gift Guide to the loyalty package. If you are B2B, invite your best customers to participate in online events and interactive networking—help them build their business and they will continue to support yours. Be sure to tap the next tier down of buyers and expand the reach of your program. Invite current members to bring a friend or colleague along, and reward them both.
Test these ideas with a control group this month. Segment a small portion of your file (maybe 5%) and send half as many promotional messages, but replace 25%-50% of them with relevant content, tips or interactive offers. See if revenue increases or decreases. Also watch deliverability, complaint rates and activity per subscriber. Let me know if you want help constructing the test and measuring results.
Use the results of all these ideas to make the case for stronger subscriber-centric approaches to email marketing. If email doesn't contribute more now, then we can't expect to remain at the center of the marketing mix, or budget.
—Stephanie Miller of Return Path
This 4-hour seminar in New York is part of a ground-breaking series of email compliance-focused events. This specific seminar will cover the LashBack and UnsubCentral processes and deliverables within a framework of educating participants as to the need for comprehensive compliance process as a foundation to successful email marketing and email reputation protection.
Participants will learn the 10 Guidelines of CAN-SPAM compliance, with drill down on unsubscribe compliance, unsubscribe processes including suppression list best practices, the new FTC unsubscribe rule and compliance's overall impact on reputation and deliverability.
Email Compliance: The Foundation of Reputation and Deliverability
Produced by the Email Experience Council and the Direct Marketing Association
Monday, Nov. 3 at 1pm
eec/DMA Seminar Center, New York
John Engler, Vice President and General Manager, UnsubCentral
Bennet Kelley, Esq., Founder, The Internet Law Center
James O'Brien, Director of Marketing, LashBack
This seminar is $99, but eec members can get $20 off using the discount code "eecM."
>>Register Now for this seminar!
Ask me what I do for a living. Go ahead. Ask. I love to tell people about email marketing, and so do most of our eec members. So after a lot of discussion and effort, we're proud to announce the launch of the eec Speakers Bureau. The concept is a simple one, but with tremendous power behind it. While most of us in the eec live and breathe (and dream and sweat) email marketing, that's not necessarily the case with all marketers everywhere. Many companies either don't do email marketing or worse, do it badly.
The new Speakers Bureau will match eec members with speaking opportunities at events that without our support would have little or no programming about email marketing. The goal of the Bureau is to spread fundamental best practices by proactively reaching out to communities where our message of responsible, permission-based email marketing can do the most good.
But we need your help to make this a big success. We want to expand the roster of available speakers to be able to provide assistance to conference organizers large and small. Please join the Speakers Bureau and register to be considered for speaking requests in your community.
Additionally, let us know of any conferences or events that would be an ideal platform to deliver marketers information about email marketing best practices. We'll match up the organization's needs with a speaker. We would also appreciate it if you let us know about articles, whitepapers and other free resources related to the topics covered by the Bureau that can be distributed to support and extend our presentations.
Many thanks to everyone on the Communications Roundtable who worked long and hard to get us to this point. We look forward to making the Speakers Bureau beneficial for eec members and the organizations we reach out to, providing lots of information about email marketing at its basic and its best.
—eec Communications Roundtable co-chair Kay Cavender of Silverpop
I want to share something inspirational that's happening in the email industry (Oh, and you can learn some best practices too!). It's a recap of the Email Experience Council's current Nonprofit Project. The project originated as a manner to enable peers and competitors in the email marketing industry to put business aside and work as a team to create the best email efforts for a good cause.
In 2007, the eec selected the Women's Bean Project as their project focus. Stephanie Miller, from Return Path, volunteered countless hours to lead this initiative and its team on behalf of the eec. I spoke with Stephanie about this effort to get the inside scoop on the project:
WHO IS THE WOMEN'S BEAN PROJECT?
The Women's Bean Project (WBP) helps women break the cycle of poverty and unemployment by teaching workplace competencies for entry-level jobs through employment and by teaching job readiness skills in their gourmet food production business.
WHY WERE THEY A GOOD CANDIDATE?
The WBP was sending one-off donor and volunteer announcements from a database created in FileMaker.
The WBP came to the eec with the following needs and goals:
1. Efficiency: Communicate effectively and efficiently with donors, volunteers and buyers (online and offline).
2. Impact & Choice: Retain donors and buyers through a higher number of touch points—ensuring that each touch is meaningful but also reducing costs and the amount of staff time required for each. Also, allow each customer/donor to select the method of communication (online or offline) that works best for them.
3. Cost Savings: Continue to reach every customer, even as the number of buyers increases by 30% each year (raising the costs of printing and postage significantly).
4. Practicality: Launch and manage a program on a very small staff—literally one-quarter of one person was dedicated to email marketing for all three audiences (donors, buyers, volunteers).
HOW DID THE EEC VOLUNTEER TEAM LOOK?
It is a testament to the email industry and the eec membership that very quickly we had 15 talented professionals volunteer to help, and several vendors step forward and to provide tools and services free of charge. ExactTarget provided a free basic sending license and also graciously donated nearly 15 hours of support throughout the project. Return Path donated a free rendering and deliverability account. Other companies represented included Blackbaud, BlueHornet, Future Integrated Marketing, Industry Mailout, Leapfrog Enterprises, Merkle and Wolters Kluwer Financial Services.
WHAT WAS ACCOMPLISHED?
The team focused on six specific areas to create the program—content, design, infrastructure and list growth.
● Identified ways that email can support the WBP mission
● Developed a content strategy
● Debated and finalized permission standards (DOI)
● Developed a calendar for promotions around the holidays, including promoting some local events and fundraisers
● Advised on sending an email counterpart for the annual appeal to donors (direct mail)
● Promotional content recommendations: (1) special offers: 10% discount for National Soup Month; (2) developed concept, copy and photography for a Valentine's Day email that would have viral impact; and (3) developed a year's worth of promotional themes based on holidays in order to boost sales during non-peak months (e.g., soup sales in summer are very slow)
● Set up Google Analytics so WBP could measure success of the email program for driving sales and page views
● Helped train the WBP team to review campaign results with an eye toward optimization
● Developed wireframes for four types of emails
● Designed templates for newsletter, postcards, DOI/welcome and donor appeals
● Loaded the templates into ExactTarget and tested them
● Helped launch an inaugural issue—which included list hygiene and deliverability with an old file, as well as an opt-out strategy for the existing database
● Worked with the team to set up an ExactTarget account
● Upload the templates; Access the self-service training
● Testing and mailing
● Course Correction: Aligning with with Yahoo! Store and cleaning up templates
● Starting point: 75% valid records
● Developed organic, offline and viral list growth ideas
● Recommended ways to optimize data capture on the website
● Reviewed the subscription flow for permission clarity and growth optimization
HOW DID IT TURN OUT?
Here's a quick rundown of the results:
1. We launched a program! It is practical, earns results, garners the praise and kudos of subscribers, donors and the WBP Board of Directors and has legs—the WBP can continue this email program when the volunteer team disbands.
2. Subscribers love it! The inaugural issue of the newsletter generated:
● 32% open rates
● 15% clickthrough rate
● 3.1% bounce rate on new data (25% bounce rate on old list data)
3. Subscribers are great WBP customers! Page views from email subscribers are two times higher than other sources.
For more details on our work with the Women's Bean Project and past Nonprofit Projects, visit the Nonprofit Project page on the Email Experience Council's website.
—Jeanniey Mullen of the eec
EROI just released a study called The Cradle and the Grave that shares survey results from over 500 marketers about opt-in, opt-out and feedback loops. I initially read the statistics and found them interesting and was ready to file the stats and move on. And then something struck me. Unlike most surveys with a lot of statistics, this report was much more than a "nice to have," non-actionable survey. This one really struck a chord with me.
It seems this report could actually be sending us a warning: Change or die. I don't mean to sound melodramatic over this, but statistics like "only 30% of respondents offer confirmed opt-in" and "only 23% enable consumer-driven frequency settings to maintain a relationship" scare me. I mean, haven't we, as an industry grown at all? Twelve years since inception of email marketing, have email marketers turned into "snobs" who have forgotten their roots as consumers?
Before you post a comment and tell me I am insane, think about it: In this report I learned that 90% of people who click on an unsubscribe link or button never hear a word from the company they unsubscribed from. WOW. If your best friend got up and said, "Please don't speak to me or call me ever again" and walked out of the room, would you just shrug your shoulders and move on with life? I don't think so. So why are we acting this way with our customers?
We should be looking into ways to find out why people are opting out and offer solutions. Maybe give subscribers the ability to opt-out by message type (i.e., events, special offers, etc.). Maybe we give them the ability to receive updates through a different electronic channel, like RSS or mobile alerts. Or maybe we simply just ask, "Are you sure you want to leave?" and offer the ability to call a human being to discuss it. I am not suggesting that anyone keep emailing people who opt-out, but I am suggesting that we try harder to understand and save these relationships.
Over the years, email marketing has become increasingly challenging both strategically and technically. As an industry, shouldn't we turn our collective focus on addressing some of the elements (like ISP deliverability issues) that cause us to devote countless hours of our time so that we can return to paying attention to our customers?
Reading this reader survey and report made me realize how simple is can be to take our biggest assets (our customers) for granted and just let them walk out the door. If you haven't read it yet, I suggest you download it, take a look at the stats and think about how your current company's efforts may actually be reflecting on the future stability of your customer relationships. My guess is that if we stopped acting like we didn't care when people opt-out, we could very well win back the loyalty of 40% of those people, or more.
—Jeanniey Mullen of the eec
Ahh, another April Fools' Day. It's the day when people who are prone to losing track of what day it is generally experience an "oh, crap" moment at some point. (You know who you are. You were running an hour late on March 9.) It's also a day where there are plenty of email and email-related jokes to go around.
The first one I encountered today is my favorite so far. I went to log into Gmail this morning and found their announcement for Gmail Custom Time, a handy service that allows you to backdate an email that you're sending, and even have it appear as having been opened already. Forget your sister's birthday. No problem. Needed an extra day to complete that essay for class. No problem. Just backdate those emails and you're golden. In their explanation, Gmail shares some testimonials that suggest other novel ways to use Custom Time.
While the faux service is hilarious (I kept thinking, "Boy, would the Bush administration have fun with this"), it made me reflect on how much we rely on email to confirm the chronology of past events and to verify that we were or were not notified of a particular event. The reliance and faith we put in email took another step forward last month when Goodmail debuted a new service proving legal proof of delivery for emails—and that's in addition to the adoption of email authentication reaching the tipping point in January. So barring the introduction of a Custom Time service like Gmail's, email is on a good trajectory toward being an even more trust medium.
Here are some other April Fools emails and email-related gags that we've seen:
–>E-Dialog sent this email, which linked to this "correct" version.
–>Salon's Farhad Manjoo launched I Google for You. Just type in your search and he'll email you that one link that you're really looking for. See the results from us searching for "email marketing association."
–>CafePress sent this email announcing the launch of their new dating service, CafePress LoveMatch.
–>eROI announced that they abandoned their new offices in favor of solar-powered yurts along the Willamette River.
–>Mark Brownlow at Email Marketing Reports breaks the news that Bluegill Mail has launched a "report subscriber" button.
If you know of others, let us know and we'll add them to the list. Thanks and happy April Fools' Day.
—Chad White of the eec (who is celebrating his 2nd wedding anniversary today—no, really)
If you missed out on the Email Evolution Conference this year you're not completely out of luck because bloggers and reporters were all over it. In fact, during the Wednesday morning panel about email marketing bloggers, there were dozens of people that said they were blogging from the event—and a half-dozen that said they were blogging live during the session! Here's a list of posts and articles about the show to give you a little taste of what you missed (let us know if you know of others):
Email Experience Blog:
–>Voices from the Email Evolution Conference
–>Inbox Stew: Grandma, Goods, Compadres and Confirmation
–>Takeaways from the Email Evolution Conference
–>Update from the Email Evolution Conference
–>Live Blogging from the Email Evolution Conference: Part 1 (LIVE BLOG)
–>EEC Conference: US Legislation and Beyond
–>Live Blogging from the Email Evolution Conference - Part 2 (LIVE BLOG)
–>Live Blogging from the Email Evolution Conference - Day 2 (LIVE BLOG)
The Email Wars:
–>Live EEC Keynote: Bloggers Unite: Passion, Power or People? (LIVE BLOG)
–>Knocked out by the eec
–>Making Email, Web Analytics Play Nice: Testing Is Key
–>FTC: Data Security Is Top Concern
–>Bad Guys Make Emailing Harder
–>Email Undervalued, Works Best In Symphony With Other Tools
–>Daily Candy Founder Shares Special Sauce
–>Multichannel marketing highlighted at Email Evolution Conference
House of Email Marketing:
–>Reflecting on the EEC Conference: Relevance drives Deliverability and ROI
Return on Subscriber:
–>Dedicated IP or not a dedicated IP
–>Insights from the Email Evolution Conference
–>From the EEC Conference: Email marketing blogs
–>From the EEC Conference: Getting inactive subscribers to engage
–>From the EEC Conference: Creating a VIP email program
–>From the EEC Conference: The DailyCandy story
Smith-Harmon EDM Review:
–>San Diego Zoo
Marketing with Technology and More:
–>Email Experience Conference Kicks Off
–>Good Quality permission and relevancy - data revealed
–>A No-Tan-Line Bikini and 70 Passionate Women
Strongmail's Email Marketing Insights:
–>LIVE from the Email Experience Conference!
Chris Baggott's Guide to Blogging:
–>Corporate Blogging Live From the Email Evolution Conference
Visitor Centric Marketing
–>Email Experience Evolution, 2/12/08