Email marketers have heard it before: With the continued growth of email, as well as the emergence of interactive marketing outside the inbox, it’s getting harder and harder to cut through the clutter and grab consumers’ attention. That said, diagnosing the problem and solving it are two entirely different matters. In a recent whitepaper from Forrester Research, The ROI of Email Relevance, 2009, author David Daniels examines what email marketers are still doing wrong, then provides five tips to get them on the right track to spark consumer interest and drive ROI with email.
While email marketers are starting to realize that click-based behavioral segmentation works ― 51 percent of executives responding to a recent Forrester Research survey said they’ve used clickthrough data to segment audiences for email campaigns within the past six months ― there are still many who don’t. The whitepaper identifies the following troubling behaviors that email marketers continue to practice:
Not harnessing subscriber engagement. Using clickthrough behavior as a segmentation attribute is necessary for email marketers to not only measure the engagement of their lists, but also drive different mailings that cater to the behaviors of subscribers.
Failing to address subscriber behavior, sinking further into the bulk box. By sending emails to dormant addresses, you encounter significant deliverability issues with ISPs that use such information to determine sender reputation. Tracking click behavior as a segmentation attribute benefits from such delivery remedies when targeting those subscribers by engagement and also identifies those who have lapsed or are showing signs of lapsing, the whitepaper notes.
Not integrating social media into email strategies. The influence of product reviews and social commentary relating to consumer experiences in the buying cycle cannot be dismissed, yet few marketers use this review contribution as a segmentation attribute, the whitepaper says. According to a recent study from Forrester Research, marketers using product review data within email have reported higher response rates compared to those who aren’t.
Dismissing acquisition source and profitability. Low adoption of these attributes signals that marketers are incorrectly focused on acquisition costs versus the cost of the acquired value that profitable subscribers represent. Without a proper understanding and use of both the acquisition source and value of acquired subscribers, marketers are doomed to continue to misappropriate acquisition dollars to sources that don’t drive long-term subscriber value to their organizations.
5 steps to email relevance
To help take your email program to the next level by targeting specific content to newfound consumer segments, the whitepaper advises following the five tactics:
1. Testing optimization. Marketers who don’t inject testing into their routines will never leverage the important learnings that a failed or successful test can provide. Email service providers (ESPs) and the broader interactive marketing community must improve the automation and experience of testing tools to aid overburdened marketers in their desire to implement testing.
2. Frequency management. According to a JupiterResearch/NPD consumer survey, lack of message relevancy and high message frequency are the top two drivers to unsubscribe and opt-out behavior. Use relevancy as the attributer to optimal message frequency, particularly as this relates to subscriber acquisition and activation.
3. Dynamic content. The growing number of marketers enlisting click-based segmentation, coupled with the low number of marketers using dynamic content in their emails, indicates that many marketers continue to create distinct mailings for their segments. This approach can double or, in some instances, triple production time compared to creating a dynamic section within the email template that can automatically deliver the conditional content that’s appropriate for the subscriber.
4. Subscriber value calculators. Determine which subscribers are active and valuable versus which aren’t by enlisting valuation calculators that are available in many ESP applications.
5. Customer testimonials as content. A February study of more than 800 consumers from Bazaarvoice found that 48 percent of all online shoppers planned to spend less this year, but 61 percent of those reluctant to make purchases can be positively influenced by online shopping resources, including customer-crafted content. Companies using customer content also benefit from lower content production costs since repurposing this content costs less than optimizing images for email delivery.
Joe Keenan is the executive editor of Total Retail. Joe has more than 10 years experience covering the retail industry, and enjoys profiling innovative companies and people in the space.