E-mail 2.0: How To Optimize Your 2007 E-mail Marketing

If you’re still grappling with how to maximize your e-mail initiatives, consider these insights and recent tactics.

Instead of e-mail initiatives centered on “batch and blast” one-off efforts, savvy marketers are developing measurable, accountable strategies that leverage the power of e-mail to serve as the digital backbone for other digital and marketing efforts.

Successful approaches include:

  • Simply adding an “access your account” link to your subscription e-newsletter. This action can result in more unique visits to your Website and more revenue per visit. One marketer reported that this tactic resulted in a significant increase in clickthroughs to transactional web pages and now accounts for 60% of clickthroughs into the marketer’s Website.
  • Convert offline customers to online. Chief Marketer (a sister publication of MULTICHANNEL MERCHANT) reports that most companies today have e-mail addresses for fewer than 20% of their customers. If your company is among them, you may be able to cost-effectively convert customers from offline to online communications by inviting customers who read your ads or visit the contact center or cash register to sign up for your e-mail list. This approach helps you to leverage the high cost of acquisition for new customers by expanding the number of channels through which customers can do business with you. If you are clear that you treat every customer’s e-mail address with respect, you will continually build your database of people who do business with you and want to learn about other offers relevant to them.
  • Grow your list cost-efficiently, part one. Putting the list growth challenge into perspective, Marketing Sherpa explains that, even as most business-to-business e-mail lists grow by 3.9% every month, approximately 2% of those names are lost due to bounces or opt-outs, resulting in an annual average list growth of 22%. So, even if only 2% or 3% of the names are coming off the list every month, those numbers add up. Smart marketers know that the majority of names fall away due to bounces rather than actual opt-outs. If you understand exactly what a bounce is to your e-mail service provider (ESP) and how those bounces are handled, you can begin to take remedial action to salvage those names you spent valuable marketing dollars to obtain in the first place. Also, many consumers switch e-mail providers as they upgrade to broadband or take advantage of new bundled voice and Internet service plans. By understanding how your organization or your ESP deals with address changes, you can develop strategies to retain valuable customers before they fall into the ether and before you feel compelled to spend money to re-acquire those same customers.
  • Grow your list cost-effectively, part two. Leverage co-registration. As both Jupiter Research and attendees at the recent Marketing Sherpa E-mail Summit point out, co-registration is a smart and highly cost-effective tactic to grow your e-mail list. Jupiter suggests that marketers seek out firms that specialize in e-mail acquisition which tend to have a variety of co-registration alternatives at their disposal. According to the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB), co-registration grew 290% in 2005, to $753 million. No other online segment even came close to that increase. Some of the largest, most respected marketers and some of the more heavily traveled Internet sites have discovered the value of co-registration when it’s done the right way. You can, too.

Your digital backbone has the potential strength to do the heavy lifting as a content hub that extends your marketing conversation and customer interaction channels. But to do so, you’ll need to develop strategies to combat the challenge of list fatigue.
Here are three tips:

  • Understand the entire customer contact picture. By merging offline customer data from sources like direct mail, with online data like e-mail, you can determine how often your customers hear from you. One marketer who performed this study discovered that excess postal mailings were causing higher unsubscribe rates in e-mail campaigns, and adjusted e-mail broadcast schedules accordingly.
  • Develop re-engagement and list-cleansing strategies. Subscribers who are consistently unresponsive can be targeted for re-engagement via alternative contact channels. After an established period, continued non-responsive subscribers can be placed on a separate list that either receives e-mail less frequently or stops receiving e-mails altogether.
  • Provide options when customers try to unsubscribe. Before removing customers from your list, ask if they’d rather reduce the frequency of e-mails instead of eliminating e-mails entirely. Customers who choose to stay on your list indicate they are willing to continue to be contacted – just remember to abide by their contact preferences.

Ready or not, e-mail 2.0 is here, and merchants must embrace the ability of e-mail marketing to achieve its fullest potential. New twists to e-mail marketing basics such as adopting more cost-efficient list growth tactics can help strengthen their digital marketing backbone. By making yourself a more effective e-mail marketer, you can exponentially increase the value proposition of your e-mail efforts and watch your bottom line improve.

Josh Perlstein is president of Atlanta-based marketing services firm Response Media.

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