It's harder than ever to convince consumers and business professionals to part with their dollars and euros and yen—a global recession, tightening belts and everyone afraid of layoffs and the possibility of more bad news. The only number that hasn't gone down lately is our quarterly forecast number—and for many email marketers this is even increasing.
Now more than ever, we email marketers are being asked to deliver more than ever—higher revenue, larger subscriber files, more active lists and longer lifetime value. None of our bosses will invest in this channel or support our efforts unless we can prove that the channel deserves more resources and more careful segmentation and content strategy.
It's never been a better time to stand up for your subscribers. Advocate for them, because the only way to increase revenues from email marketing is to create great subscriber experiences. And that means email messages that are not just frequent, but relevant, timely and targeted.
There are two things to focus on now, in order to shape up your email program success for Q4 and 2009:
1. Improve relevancy in small steps. We all know about the behavior triggers that help make our programs more relevant. Basically, you change your contact strategy and cadence to send more email when subscribers are more inclined to buy. This is effective, but can require additional resources or technology. What to do if you don't have those resources or technology? A great way to improve your program without new technology or data integration is to think about a content strategy that improves the value of your email messages over time. Adding value to just some of your messages, even SOME of the time, will improve response to ALL your messages. So instead of just sending promotions over and over, replace some of them with messages that feel more custom, even if they are still sent to large segments of your file. Insert a few tips in your next promotion or business newsletter. Host a poll. Say "thank you" to everyone who bought this past quarter. Send a no-strings-attached whitepaper to everyone who visited the website last month. Encourage everyone who uses Product A to take a free trial of Product B. Help subscribers network with each other.
2. Reach the inbox. There is no better way to boost response and revenue than to make sure you reach the inbox consistently and avoid the junk folder or going missing altogether. Reaching the inbox is based on your sender reputation—the "score" that ISPs like Yahoo!, Hotmail and the others give to you. It's based on your practices, including the number of times subscribers complain about your email by clicking on the "Report Spam" button. First thing is to know your sender reputation by visiting www.senderscore.org or www.dnsstuff.com. Work with your email broadcast vendor, IT team or a deliverability expert to address the root causes of deliverability failure.
—Stephanie Miller of Return Path