What's Your Black Friday?

Black Friday has become a critical day and event for many retailers. For florists, their "Black Friday" is now: the period leading up to next Tuesday, Valentine's Day.

For your business, it could also be an obvious event or time period such as Mother's Day, Halloween or ski season. More likely, however, it is probably a key trigger aspect of your business or marketing program that drives the majority of revenue or conversion activity.

If you've been following my theme in recent Email Insiders (see "The Year of Thinking Big"), you'll know that I'm urging email marketers to improve the most critical aspect of their email marketing programs in order to meet or exceed their program goals for the year.

This critical aspect is the "fulcrum" of your email-marketing program: the point on which the rest of your email success depends. Following are four suggestions to get you started focusing on your fulcrum opportunity:

1. Identify your fulcrum event (or events). It could be a classic Black Friday model, such as your biggest sales day of the year, or it might be a critical conversion trigger such as a 30-day free trial program for an online software service.

Here are some other examples:

  • Renewals, especially for businesses where profitability may not occur until Year Two
  • For a fitness club, the few weeks after a prospect declines the "today only" special membership offer
  • First purchases by customers that drive a majority of all follow-on revenue
  • Converting basic users to premium accounts
  • Product demos for software companies
  • Reducing churn driven by user or member inactivity
  • Sample content or free book chapter downloads for authors

2. Analyze your current performance, and identify opportunities where you could improve. Here you'll use output metrics such as percentage of conversions from basic to premium service, free trial to paid, first purchase or whatever is relevant to your fulcrum event.

Where could or should your program results be? In a recent meeting with a company, I discovered that its conversion from the first email following a custom product selection was in the low single digits.

Yikes, I thought. If the company could deploy a trigger program based on behavior in this post-registration process, it should be able to increase conversion to, say, 10%, which would create a huge impact on the business.

Once you have found your stumbling blocks to conversions or opportunities to improve, you're ready to go to your boss and ask for help.

3. Make the case for more budget and resources to help you achieve your goals. This is where you need to speak your boss's language and lay out in clear terms what the problem is, the strategies you plan to deploy to solve it, the resources you need to make that happen, and the top- or bottom-line results the company will realize from the investment.

Need help to formulate your battle plan? Check out some of my strategies in an earlier Email Insider, "Nine Steps to Getting the Big Stuff Done."

4. Focus your energy and attention on the aspects that improve and support your fulcrum area. One of the biggest issues I hear about from clients is how to focus on the most important things when there are so many demands on their time and so many things they need to fix in their email programs.

It's essential that you not let your attention, or your team's, get distracted from your big goal. Once you have improved this key point in your email-marketing program, many other incremental improvements will either fall into place or become obvious that they are next up on your list of things to tackle.

As an email marketer, you probably have 100 different aspects of your program -- from opt-in forms to reducing unsubscribes -- that you could tackle on any given day.

As you look at that long "To Do" or wish list, ask yourself which of the items are tweaks or tasks that support the big kahuna opportunities, and which are the fulcrum opportunities themselves.

Put the item to the "C-suite test." Would the folks in the corner offices jump for joy because you finally got that survey added to your opt-out page, or because you reduced calls to the call center by 20%?

Do you know what your "Black Friday" event is? Is that where you are focusing the majority of your energy?

Until next time, take it up a notch!

Tags: email
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