Forget Leads: Think in Terms of Prospects

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Lead generation. It’s every marketer’s holy grail, isn’t it? And for a long time it’s been a sensible way of thinking about marketing.

But simple lead generation can be a waste of time, money, and energy. Amassing email lists that may or may not be relevant to and generate income for your company can backfire and hurt your online reputation.

I’d like to suggest another way of thinking about new-customer acquisition. Rather than think about leads, I think it’s important to think about qualifiedprospects.

What makes a prospect qualified? We used to think in terms of demographics: if that individual or company fit into a certain list of qualifiers (financial, verticals, geography, etc.) then the prospect was qualified.

But demographics are static and, at the end of the day, not of much real use. What qualifies a prospect today is live data—in other words, something that they did. They clicked, they opened, they filled out a form, they asked for information: this constantly moving stream of data culled from websites, social media sites, and email is how companies today determine who is a qualified prospect.

The live data, when received, should trigger an immediate response from you, and that’s the beginning of chatter marketing: companies responding to the actions taken by prospects and customers, rather than telling prospects and customers what it is that we think they need.

Qualified prospects. It’s not about leads anymore!

Why Lead Generation Offers Matter

Think of your online offer to a prospect as a first impression. That 160-character introduction to your brand can either make or break someone’s notion of who you are and what you sell … and could ultimately determine whether they may decide to buy from you.

An offer can perhaps be the most important part of lead generation, and it’s frequently overlooked or only given limited attention. If the famous Bill Gates quote “the Internet moves at the speed of thought” is true, then it’s time to rethink your approach to creating the right offer, because prospects are moving fast, and your brand is one of many they glance at.

So you may want to start with a few questions:

  • What are you currently saying to your clients, in store or online?
  • What marketing messages have worked for you in the past?
  • What are your competitors are doing and saying?

The real issue lies in the fact that every lead source requires different messaging, and messaging is the key to lead generation. Messaging is not one-size-fits-all, as we all learned when we moved from direct mail to online emails. So the best way to see what messaging and which offers work or don’t, and when, is to test, test, test.

First, look at your various lead-generation tools. They may include banners, co-registration, email, trade publication ads, third-party emails, and others. Each will require a different offer. And to improve results further you’ll want to create different offers for different customer segment that you’ll reach within each channel — so you may end up with sublists of appropriate offers. The more you can segment, the more your offers can target the most likely group of consumers for your services or products.

So what do you test? There are myriad options and you need to nail down a strategy for testing. It’s important that you don’t just stick to one testing method: multivariate testing will yield the most information. But remember, the more knowledge you have about what works and what doesn’t, the better position you’ll be in to attract targeted customers who will actually make a purchase. So also try A/B splits and test the offer itself—should it be free shipping? Discounts? You also need to test other messaging, like different subject lines. What about timing: Are you getting more leads midweek? In the evening?

Be sure that you have a plan behind the testing and aren’t just throwing out random changes. Determine what you want to test based on what you want to learn, then track results, and tweak as necessary.

Whatever you test, there are a few constants: keep the copy light, and keep the call to action large. No matter what lead-generation tool you’re using, you still have only a few seconds to catch and hold a prospect’s attention. Make those seconds count for you by presenting something relevant and targeted—and by presenting it in such a way that it clearly seems irresistible to the consumer.

Timing is Everything: Email Segmentation by the Clock

blog-image-11-18-13-001What many email marketers don’t know is that there are specific times of day that certain emails are best sent. Segmentation by the clock is just as important as any other kind of email segmentation. Patricia Wilson has been involved in customer relationship management for over twenty years, the last ten of which have been heading up eWayDirect’s Raleigh, North Carolina office, helping clients use emarketing to its full potential. A frequent question she receives is email list segmentation in terms of time, so she agreed to an interview to share her views.

So let’s start with the issue I touched on in the introduction: what’s the best day of the week and time of the day to send out emails? 

There is not doubt there are best time of the day to send/time your email campaigns, and best days of the week. However, it differs for every company and you need to learn what works best for your company by understanding the email habits of the audience you are sending emails to and the goal of the specific emails you are sending. Based on this information the day/time answer may be different. In addition B2B and B2C campaigns will perform better at different times and different days of the week.

Here are a couple of examples: If your goal as a B2B is to attract professionals to your booth at a trade show, you will want to reach those subscribers early morning before they reach the office, or at the end of the work day when they are checking their email one more time before leaving the office. If you are a B2C company selling children’s clothing your best time to reach the moms is mid-morning after the children have left for school, and second best is after 8 pm when the kids have gone to sleep. These two examples should give you a good idea of what I mean by timing depending on your audience.

Of course, the real answer is to test. Test, test, test. What works well today may not be as effective two months from now. Subscribers change habits frequently. Testing is easy yet studies show many companies don’t it, often because they are rushed for time or don’t have the discipline to test in an organized manner over time. Consistently test the day of week and the time of day.

And remember in this day of complex delivery issues be sure to monitor daily your inbox delivery rates, opens and clicks. When one or more of these change negatively have a sense of urgency to understand what is causing the change(s) until your response rates return to desired levels.

Okay, so now I have a sense of how to find out when to send these emails. What about frequency? How much is too much?

Again, there is no magic number to answer this question. What is right for your subscribers? If you are sending stock market updates, people might need to receive emails multiple times every day, if you are sending vacation offers, weekly might be all that is appreciated by your subscribers.

That being said, new subscribers should be messaged more frequently then your overall subscriber list. This is true because you are “growing the relationship” and these people are hungry for information about your company and your products/services. In addition, the first 30 days of an online relationship are, for most companies, the most valuable 30 days in the relationship and you want to optimize the opportunity.

Subscribers who are familiar with your products or service tend to be highly interactive with your campaigns, and can be messaged less frequently. But the information you have on these subscribers, information you have built over time, allows you to make the most of every message with highly targeted, relevant content, based on their buying habits.

And always work off a frequency plan that is tweaked on a regular basis, based on ongoing results from all campaigns. 

How about special offer reminders? Should I send them? If so, when?

Online retailers do very well when sending a simple resend of the same offer to those who did not open and/or to those who opened but did not purchase. Send these offer 24 hours after the initial message with an updated subject line. Doing so an easy low cost way to remind the subscribers of your great offer and gain additional revenue. 

Other types of activity messaging may be the most effective email messages you can ever send. Send email reminders to people soon after they leave your website, based on specific pages they visit, and send reminders to people soon after they call your helpdesk or sales desk, and of course after they place orders or email your company for information. Activity based response email reminders will deliver six to ten times the response rates of your standard email campaigns. 

blog-image-11-18-13-002Is there a safe way to increase my email frequency and not increase complaints, unsubscribes, or list fatigue?

The trick to increasing your email campaign frequency is twofold, testing, testing and testing, providing relevant variable content. We tend to think about frequency results in terms of how the whole list behaves, and it is important to consider this. But within a list, there are segments that can be messaged more frequently then other segments and you need to always be watching to see which groups these are.

Create a plan to segment your list into testing/timing frequencies for best results and stick to the schedule and watch the results. And be sure to review your content for relevancy and variation. Sometimes people mistake the idea that response rates are going down because they are emailing too frequently, when in reality they are simply sending the same or similar content to people over and over again.

So this really brings us to the obvious question: which is more important, the time you send the email, or the content of the email?

Both!

What can marketers do in the next five minutes to improve the timing strategy of their email campaigns?

Sit down and set up testing parameters for the next 30 days. During this time you are going to test time of day and day of week. Then follow through. Once you have completed this test segment, plan your next 30 day segment around frequency, and segment at the individual list level.

The one thought I will leave you with is that the rewards of this program will be significant. All studies show that more frequent mailings drive higher revenue, so if you can learn enough to implement a plan that enables you to mail more frequently, without increasing complaints and opt-outs, and without lowering open rates, it will be a home run for your business.

Go Mobile Or Join The Other Dinosaurs

There are marketing trends that are clearly fads. But if you’re thinking that you can put mobile into that category, think again: the Q2 Email Benchmark Study released by Experian this week tells the story. We’ve reached the tipping-point: 50% of all unique opens are happening on mobile devices (tablets and smartphones). And the Pew Internet and American Life Project has released a study noting that 34 percent of Americans now own tablets.

This is clearly no fad. And yet even as half of all unique opens are happening on mobile devices, fewer than half of all internet marketers are optimizing their emails and websites for mobile. What’s with the disconnect?

Mobile-Combo

Perhaps it’s because a lot of actual purchases are still being made on desktops and laptops, presumably after the customer has viewed the offer or the item on a mobile device. MarketingLand sees it this way:

However, there is an interesting story here: Mobile-combo (users who opened an email on both a mobile device and desktop/webmail) accounts for 12 percent of transactions. That’s right, while Mobile-combo accounts for just 3 percent of opens and 6 percent of clicks, those users, who likely opened the email first on mobile and then moved to desktop, drove 12 percent of all transactions.

“With half of all emails opened on mobile devices in Q2 2013, we noticed that people who open email on more than one device, two or more times, have a greater propensity to buy or buy more,” says Peter DeNunzio, general manager for cross-channel marketing at Experian Marketing Services.

What’s the Device Leader?

Apple is winning the device war, at least in the Experian study. iPhone users accounted for 68% of mobile unique opens and 57% of clicks, as well as 40% of mobile email transactions. And the iPad is leading in total transactions at 48%.

So what?

The obvious conclusion is that marketers need to be paying more attention to mobile than they are. eWayDirect conducted a survey and we discovered—to our surprise—that there are more marketers not optimizing their emails for mobile than marketers who are. That’s going to change quickly; it’s going to have to change quickly. I looked around the web at some of the conversations going on about mobile, and the contrast between the fact that everyone’s talking about it and most marketers still aren’t doing anything about it is stark.

As more and more companies make mobile apps that customers swoon over, marketers—large and small alike—will need to make sure that they’re actually on the playing field, leveled or not. In a recent Technology Review article, new apps are listed that supply security, talk to other objects, accept credit card payments, and hail taxicabs. With more and more conveniences literally at their fingertips, customers are not going to have the patience to deal with your emails that load slowly, don’t display adequately on smartphones, or insist on making the customer take too many steps before making a purchase.

Mobile is exactly that: on the move. Make sure that it doesn’t leave you behind!

 

Using Mobile to Put The R Back in CRM

The internet is moving us along at the speed of thought … and that can sometime be a little too fast for marketers to adapt to! New ways of interacting with customers are appearing nearly every day, and many of them threaten the traditional customer relationship model that marketers have used for years.

That relationship has always involved engaging customers with a certain company or brand. It’s meant giving that customer a great experience, reasonable prices, and an ongoing sense of connectedness with the marketer. The only competition offered was by competing brands or companies. So a clothing manufacturer only had to worry about other clothing manufacturers getting in first with their customers or prospects, which is, after all, what marketers are accustomed to doing.

And then the advent of mobile computing changed all that. Mobile apps that could be used immediately appeared, and companies like Groupon, RueLaLa, and others began offering incentives to buy from them, rather than directly from the marketer. Suddenly the clothing marketer was no longer merely in competition with other clothing manufacturers, but also with resellers who have an edge on search engine results pages and in the mobile market.

That’s a lot of competition.

The loss of that relationship between marketers and customers may make it feel like there’s no future for CRM. But that is not necessarily the case; marketers do need to let go of the past, but there’s a whole new CRM model opening up, something that I’m calling chatter marketing.

What chatter marketing is, is a return to the kind of marketing that took place when marketers actually knew their customers, knew their likes and dislikes, knew the places they frequented and the time of day they were likely to go shopping, knew their family and friends and all the intricate webs that make up a community.

What chatter marketing does, really, is take those old values and add the use of modern tools to identify a customer’s personal online community, become a vital relevant part of that community, get closer to the customer, and therefore become more likely to have a long, valuable lifetime relationship with the customer.

And that’s the word that’s paramount for chatter marketing: relationship. Chatter marketing starts with the relationship, embracing the fact that the customer has opted in to receive information from the marketer. Chatter marketing isn’t about attracting prospects, it’s about becoming part of the established customer’s purchasing decisions very early in the buying process. And that means building a relationship that is grounded in trust—the trust the customer has in the marketer to:

  • Not sell, rent, or spam the customer’s address
  • Use a customer’s personal information to make the buying experience more convenient and more relevant
  • Contact the customer at intervals that are comfortable for the customer
  • Keep the promises that the marketer makes

The success of chatter marketing rests on this trust, on this relationship. Once this trust has been established, the customer will see that the marketer has his/her best interests at heart, and will in turn trust the marketer’s recommendations, campaigns, and other outreach. It also means that there will be a relationship and level of trust established that will reassure any concerns about any imagined or real loss of privacy.

It is the chatter marketer’s job to understand this … by not abusing the trust that is core to the opt-in process, and by taking advantage of the flip side of the loss of privacy: using it to bolster the convenience of their customers. A simple early example is the use of membership cards at supermarkets. For the consumer, the possession of a card that records his/her every purchase, that notes when and where and how often that purchase is made, is balanced by the special prices on certain items accorded to holders of the card and by the useful coupons often received at checkout. It’s convenient for the shopper to be reminded of items that should be on his or her list, to be given special prices on those items, and to receive coupons for other products that he or she may be interested in. The fact that the shopper’s information is being stored in a database and used for many reasons other than those affording him or her more convenience and better prices is often overlooked or minimized.

It’s that convenience that is the chatter marketer’s stock in trade. What chatter marketing does is insert the marketer into the purchasing process, from research to check-out, much earlier than is the case with “normal” marketing efforts, even before search marketing. And what could be more convenient for the consumer? If I’m considering buying a camping tent but have only gotten as far as asking my Facebook and LinkedIn contacts their opinions about camping, wouldn’t it be amazingly convenient to have a camping equipment retailer contact me and indicate that they understand my requirements, can answer my questions, and give me a special rate on precisely the tent that I need?

It doesn’t get much easier than that!

This camping-equipment example is a good one: it shows the retail marketer’s ability to sustain a connection with the consumer that will lead to an immediate sale, before that consumer even thinks of using Google to locate some ideas and pricing on camping tents. She has bought the tent without ever needing to “shop” for it. Perfect convenience for the customer, perfect sales technique for the marketer!

blog-image-11-18-13-003Chatter marketing uses the science of monitoring opt-in customer and prospect online behavior (in the above example, listening to the customer’s remarks and questions on social media sites) and then translates that behavior in ways that allow marketers to deliver personal, powerful marketing campaigns (in this case, the sale of the camping tent).

And that’s how we’re putting the “R” back into CRM—by becoming part of the customer’s process. Getting to know the customer through the myriad ways that customer interacts with the internet, and being there when purchasing decisions are still only at their first stages.

Viewing Holiday Emails

As we all get ready for the holiday season, we thought it would be a good time to get back to basics and ensure that all of your holiday emails are viewed just the way that you want them to.

So here’s what we might call Email 101; tips to bear in mind this holiday season – and all year!

  1. Only use basic HTML. You know why. That includes JavaScript and HTML layers – messages with scripts can get blocked or stripped by the email client/browser. If you want to use dynamic elements, send recipients to your website instead. Don’t use rich-media functions (like video, inline audio or flash). Keep background images to a minimum and understand that they will not appear in some email clients. THIS IS ESPECIALLY TRUE FOR CUSTOMERS USING MOBILE DEVICES—KEEP IT SIMPLE.
  2. Along the same lines, use caution if you’re using cascading style sheets. CSS can cause rendering problems in some email clients; it may also get stripped out or overwritten. If you are using CSS, choose the inline embedded style, and place it within body tags, not in the header.
  3. blog-image-11-18-13-004Create HTML with a maximum pixel width of 300; this means that your customers won’t have to do any horizontal scrolling, even on mobile devices: we often forget that even on a computer, the window in which email is displayed is rarely a full screen wide. Make sure that you test your width in as many email clients as you can before sending the email out.
  4. Now that you’ve got the right width, let’s consider the length, and our advice is to keep your emails reasonable. This will  keep the email from being filtered out (viruses live in very large files).
  5. Image issues are important to consider. The more complex they are, the longer they’ll take to load. If an email takes too long to load, the customer may move on without viewing it. Slow loading of images can be helped if you use alt tags to name the image – at least the customer then sees what it is about as it loads, and is more likely to stay with you. Finally, don’t use 1 x 1 pixel spacer gifs (generally used to force widths in table data cells); the spacers are commonly used in spam and so your email could be filtered out.
  6. Bear in mind the problems associated with email clients using a preview pane: be sure to design your email with the preview pane in mind, so make sure the top portion of the email carries your key message.
  7. This may seem obvious, but it isn’t always: design your email to read top to bottom, and left to right.
  8. No matter how well you format your message, it will never be visible to everyone. So make it easy for customers to follow a link from the email to a page on your website where the offer or message is repeated. Put the link at or near the top of your message so it can be seen and clicked right away.

All of these considerations should help you present clean, workable emails that will get your message across during the busy holiday season!

Email Deliverability FAQs

As we enter Q4 and the holiday selling season, it’s a good time to take a moment and remind ourselves of some email marketing best practices. Why not do it in a question-and-answer format? So let’s begin …

What is the best way to get permission to include someone on a mailing list?

Allow the user to give permission by having him actively select an option to receive email. For example, provide a checkbox indicating he would like to receive emails. However, always leave the checkbox unchecked so the person has to actively select it in order to be added to your mailing list.

Never take permission by requiring someone to perform an action in order to not receive email. For example, do not offer a pre-selected checkbox indicating the acceptance of receiving emails.  The person may not see the pre-selected box and sign up for a mailing by accident that she does not want to receive. This will likely generate a complaint at a later time.

What is email authentication?

Email authentication verifies the identity of the email senders and confirms that the email message is sent from the source that is stated as the sender of the message.

How is email authentication data used by ISPs?

Validating the identity of the email sender is important for ISPs to fight fraud and forgery. Email authentication simplifies and automates the process for ISPs to verify the identity of the email senders so they can eliminate fraud. If the email messages are not authenticated, then ISPs are likely to reject these messages if they suspect spoofing or phishing.

What methods are used to authenticate email messages?

There are two methods of authentication:

  • Sender ID and SPF (or Sender Policy Framework)
  • Domain Keys and DKIM (or DomainKeys Identified Mail)

Sender ID and SPF are IP-based authentication methods. With this methodology, the sender, such as eWayDirect, specifies which IPs are permitted to send from a particular domain name. When an email sender requests a connection from the ISP, the ISP uses this methodology to verify that the IP address of the server that is deploying the messages has permission to send emails from the domain name that displays as the sender of the message.

Domain Keys and DKIM is a cryptographic-based authentication. With this methodology, the sender of the message adds a digital signature (a key) in the header of the message that can only be verified by the ISPs. The ISPs look at the sending domain name and digital signature, and performs a DNS lookup to verify that the digital signature is authentic.

An email without authentication will most likely be blocked. And since ISPs can use one method or another, it’s important to authenticate your emails with both standards. 

What role do the ISPs play in email deliverability?

ISPs try to protect their customers from spam and will limit the amount of email coming in. Generally, the limitation may be based on a specific domain, IP address, and/or email content. If the ISP suspects an issue they may respond by putting email into a bulk folder, block a specific IP address or domain, or block specific content.

Each of the ISPs has its own rules for rate-limiting incoming mail, so it’s important for a sender to know the rules and to incorporate into their own systems and processes.

What is a feedback loop?

A feedback loop is a means for an ISP to communicate email issues with a sender. In order to create a feedback loop, a sender may register a domain where emails will be sent. Once set up, the ISP agrees to proactively provide the sender with user complaints and give the sender an opportunity to monitor and address appropriately.

What is a block list?

A block list is a list of senders that have, for one reason or another, been listed as spammers or senders with too many complaints. ISPs will often query block lists in their fight against spammers and not deliver emails from these senders.

If a sender is on a block list, it must contact the organization or ISP to learn the details of the issue. Then, to be removed from a block list, the sender must provide evidence of good practices and work with the ISP to be removed from the list. 

What is reputation, and how does it affect a sender’s ability to email?

blog-image-11-18-13-005Reputation is a “measurement” of the overall perception of an email sender. The measurement is not a fixed value and it will vary from day to day and receiver to receiver. A poor reputation is a consequence of poor sending practices and may be fixed incorporating best practices into an email sending process.

How can a sender succeed in email deliverability without figuring out the ISP?

The best way to succeed in deliverability is to start with freewill opt-in and always provide content that users expect and want. Your deliverability is only as good as the list you are using and the relevance of the content you are sending.

What is a spamtrap?

A spamtrap is a honeypot or trap used to collect spam.

Spamtraps are usually email addresses that are created not for communication, but rather to lure spam. In order to prevent legitimate email from being invited, the email address will typically only be published in a location hidden from view so that an automated email address harvester (used by spammers) can find the email address, but no sender would be encouraged to send messages to the email address for any legitimate purpose. Since no email is solicited by the owner of this spamtrap email address, any email messages sent to this address are immediately considered unsolicited.

So there it is. Play by the rules, and your holiday deliverability will go through the roof! 

Making Changes Easy for Your Email Customers

There’s a saying in software design: never surprise the user. This refers to making applications as intuitive as possible: if people are used to seeing a button, for example, put in a button.

Marketers carry the saying a step further: make everything easy for the user. The best websites are designed around that principle, with easy navigation and obvious calls to action.

Email marketing has followed the trend … to an extent. Required by law to allow users to unsubscribe easily, marketers do so. But what’s the most common change that subscribers to newsletters must make?

If you answered “change of address,” then you got it right. And you want your subscribers to keep subscribing, no matter where they work or what ISP they use, correct? So it should follow that changing one’s address should be the most obvious thing of all in one’s newsletter or email campaigns.

Is it?

If it isn’t, then it’s time to set some best practices in place, such as:

  • Make your customer preferences link clear and immediate. If at all possible, don’t hide it at the bottom of the message.
  • Few people remember their user names and passwords for all their newsletters, so make it easy for them to retrieve this information.
  • Give customers a reason to change their address with you. Remember that you want to keep them! So offer a special or an incentive to fill out the form.
  • Send a confirmation email that includes a special thank-you. If a customer likes your company enough to want to stay with you through a change of address (seen by many as an opportunity to clean house and get rid of unwanted subscriptions), make sure they know you appreciate them and their business.

The Art of (Email) War

A recent infographic by MarketingProfs says it all: the inbox is a battlefield. Email’s consistently superior ROI and performance benchmarks against other forms of customer acquisition and engagement have drawn marketers into intense competition over the online real estate that gets customers’ attention, and mobile marketing has only added more options to the mix.

And statistics bear it out. Experian Marketing Services’ Q2 2013 Email Benchmark Study finds that email volume rose by 17.9% in Q2 2013 compared to Q2 2012, while unique open rates were up year-over-year by 7.2%; and both continue to be on the rise.

MarketingProfs’ analysis indicated that of the most received emails, recipients are reading emails from the health/beauty, apparel, department stores, and home improvement categories the most. In other words, if you’re an online retailer and you’re not spending resources on your email marketing, you’re miles behind those who are.

But what exactly does this mean for you? Well, obviously, it means that you have a lot of competition … and that it’s more important than ever to grab customers’ attention fast and make an immediate offer that is impossible to resist. Easy, huh?

Well… yes and no. What it does mean is that following email best practices is more critical than ever if you’re to wage war in the inbox. And just as Sun-Tzu gave warriors examples of what they should do, there are ways that you can prepare yourself for the inbox battleground… and fight to win.

When you’re in this battle, you want to catch the prospect or customer’s attention right away. A killer subject line and great graphics are your first step. Then consider what it is you want them to do, and make that the easiest thing to do in response to the email. Easier than deleting it, even. Clarity and sense of purpose are what make an irresistible subject line and actionable email. The call to action in a great email campaign is clear after one second of viewing, and it is an expected next step after reading the subject line.

In a second moment of viewing, the value proposition needs to become equally clear. This shows respect for the recipients’ time, an understanding of the recipients’ needs, and most importantly, provides the recipient with a sense of security that you know what you are doing and take your subscribers seriously. This is part of great customer service, but it’s also an adage belonging to best practices as well.

And stay within those best practices, because people on battlefields get sloppy, and you can’t afford to risk your reputation or deliverability by getting sloppy!

 

 

 

 

Welcome to Q4!

The holiday season will tempt you to become more frantic in your marketing efforts to grab a piece of the lucrative seasonal pie. You deserve your part; but claim it in a way that is consistent with your plan.

And what should that plan include? Consider the following:

  • Start holiday promotions early! Consumers tend to wait for the last minute (and still want delivery by Christmas!). The earlier you can get your customers’ attention, the fewer potential shipping issues you’ll encounter.
  • Provide incentives and create a sense of urgency for early action. There are dozens of ways to do this, and offering a special deal makes consumers quicker to act, especially in slower economic times.
  • Go back and see what worked (and didn’t work) last year. If you have the data, base your evaluation of last year’s mailings on sales generated per email. Opens and clicks are important, but it ultimately boils down to how much money you made.
  • Establish campaign objectives. Before you can design an email or decide to whom you want to mail, you need to decide what you want the campaign to accomplish. Once that’s done, only way to know if a campaign is successful is to establish campaign metrics. We recommend tracking both email and result metrics:
    • Email metrics include emails delivered by ISP, bounces (hard and soft), opens, unique clicks, unsubscribes, forwards, etc. It is also important to track the effectiveness of an HTML email – the relative effectiveness of each link – by tracking clicks per location.
    • “Result” metrics include sales per email, cost per new acquisition, average order size, campaign ROI, reactivations, etc.
  • Review your database (list):
    • Eliminate bad email addresses. This is one of the most important actions you can take. After complaints, the single most common reason for ISPs blocking your emails is bad email addresses (hard bounces).
    • Review your list; any email address that hasn’t been mailed in the last six months is suspect. Create a separate list of these and send a special reactivation mailing to this group.
    • Segment your database. Even if you don’t have a lot of demographic data about your customers, you can still significantly improve your response rate by creating separate segments and mailings for openers, clickers, purchasers, the top 10%, the bottom 20%, and so on.
  • Review your landing pages: Make sure they’re relevant and that all the links work. Consumers who have opened their emails and clicked on a link to get to your landing page are your best prospects.

Develop your messaging strategy:

  • Personalize your messages. Email provides a unique opportunity to communicate directly with your customers on a one-to-one basis.
  • Make your messages clear, concise, and relevant.
  • Have a visible call to action.
  • Target your messaging by segment. This kind of targeting can have a significant impact on response rates.
  • Review your creative: Is the look and feel consistent with the landing page, your website, and your brand?Is it clear, concise and easy to read? Will consumers know what to do when they open your email? Is it CAN-SPAM-compliant?
  • Track and report: Make sure all of your tracking and reporting is set up ahead of time!

The better prepared you are, and the more established your holiday strategy, the more you’ll get out of this important quarter of the year.