6 keys to more effective email marketing
Email marketing is never a guaranteed win. Columnist Mary Wallace shares six tips to help you drive engagement and ultimately improve your revenue.
The marketing organization’s role has evolved significantly since the beginning of this decade.
Marketing organizations are no longer measured on customer acquisition and brand awareness. Rather, according to a report from The Economist Intelligence Unit, they are evaluated based on their impact on revenue and customer engagement.
Continuing to focus on creative initiatives will have little impact on ensuring company viability. Marketing organizations must cast a laser focus on driving engagements that result in a quantifiable revenue impact.
Technology coupled with data is key to delivering on these expectations. The combination can help drive relevant engagements and measure the impact on the business.
With the advent of marketing technology tools for emailing (e.g., Silverpop, Eloqua, Act-On), marketers can send as many emails as frequently as they want. And why not, if the premise is that increasing email activity will improve prospect conversion odds, and the cost of sending another email is zero?
But the reality is that relevant engagement happens when a personalized message or content is provided to a tightly defined segment. When too many emails are sent, and there’s no consideration of persona, buying cycle or need, the relationship with the prospect is weakened.
The result is that prospects and customers stop listening. When the listening and engaging stops, marketing’s effectiveness is shattered.
What follows are six keys for leveraging technology and data that, when coupled with high-quality content, will ensure your email marketing efforts drive revenue.
1. Create strong content
Focus on creating and sending high-quality (personalized) emails versus many general emails that don’t provide value. Creating personalized emails for tightly defined segments takes time and money. But the results speak for themselves.
2. Determine optimal email frequency
This is not a one-size-fits-all number. Segment your database based on email engagement (highly engaged, limited engagement, no engagement).
Test to understand what is optimal for each group, and define a threshold of emails that ensures engagement but leaves no money on the table.
Monitor the number of emails sent at the prospect level. If the threshold is met (on a daily, weekly or monthly basis) stop sending more emails to that prospect.
Kerry Reilly, the director of product marketing for Adobe Campaign, says marketers must minimize email blasting and wide sweeping messages. Instead, they must maximize contextual engagement in every message by leveraging their data in smart ways.
An Adobe case study found that by decreasing total emails sent by 16 percent (and including more relevant content), they realized a 60-percent improvement in open rates.
3. Prioritize communication
Determine which emails are most important while suppressing those of less significance. This is a matrix decision based on buying cycle, focus of emails and the business unit that owns the email.
Maintain open and fluid communications within the entire marketing organization. This can be tricky when disparate teams are involved.
Jon Russo of B2B Fusion has seen significant improvement in marketing effectiveness when all marketing teams within an organization share campaign communication information. “We’ve enabled enterprises to cut their email volume by over 59 percent and improve email engagement by 12 percent by actively managing the email process,” he told me. “These aggressive steps are fundamental to help improve revenue conversion.”
4. Standardize data for segmentation
Use picklists or lookup tables instead of free-form text for fields to help you better personalize communication. For example, instead of a title field, use job function.
Map existing values to the standardized fields. Create processes to populate the non-standard values in the standardized fields or begin using the standardized fields in your data capture efforts (e.g., form submits, file uploads).
5. Ensure key data for segmentation is available
Clean and accurate data is needed for the segmentation that drives personalized emails. For example, industry or job function might be fields in your segmentation strategy that are the basis for your communication.
If these fields are empty or have out-of-date information, refresh your data through a third-party service. Then, once the data is clean, you can segment and kick off your campaign.
6. Measure results and optimize tactics
As modern marketers, we rely heavily on metrics to validate our results and report up to the C-suite. Couple these metrics with lower-level tracking to monitor the effectiveness of campaigns and contact engagement.
Analyze lead scores for campaigns and specific segments to understand how effective the marketing effort is. Low overall engagement lead scores indicate there’s an issue, while high (on average) lead scores show the marketing organization is effective.
With so much on a marketer’s plate — from revenue generation to brand awareness and the overall customer experience — every effort needs to produce maximum results. And given that email is one of the most powerful ways for marketers to communicate, there’s no room for suboptimal results.