Value Of Email Address A Gap In Marketer's Toolkit

Last week's column by Chad White explored the variety of refer-a-friend programs used by retailers. Let's put that and every other topic around email marketing in perspective -- if marketers can't establish clear ROI of our email file, how can we optimize the subscriber experience and obtain necessary resources?

A new survey from the Email Experience Council's List Growth & Engagement Roundtable shows that only two out of five marketers know their cost to acquire an email address.

Every marketer today -- especially those managing online programs -- is under pressure to show ROI and contribution to the bottom line. Analysis is much improved when a marketer can show the true value of an email address to the company and the brand. Once value is established, it can help answer questions such as:

  • How much can I pay for a new subscriber?
  • How much revenue can I expect a new subscriber in a specific demographic or from a particular source to contribute?
  • When segments of subscribers are below the optimal ROI, what different types of content or frequency will boost their engagement?

Acquisition marketers typically know the amount they are willing to pay for a search keyword. Email marketers want and need that same level of confidence when they plan their list growth, acquisition programs, content strategy and promotion calendars.

Why isn't more analysis happening? The challenge is twofold: First, marketers struggle with the starting point what data is needed to begin to understand the value of an email record. Second, even when a methodology is in place, many marketers do not have an easy time gathering the specific data required.

Not surprisingly, the most commonly used success metrics around the value of an email file are those that are easy to track today -- deliverability to the inbox (56%), revenue generated (52%), open rate (50%), total quantity of email addresses (48%), and click-through rate (47%).

Perhaps the easiest metric to track is list size. However, only half of the marketers surveyed say the pure size of the file is used as a success metric. Most marketers in our survey are only doing organic Web site capture to build their file. Despite the proven success of other list growth strategies, most survey participants do not take advantage of them.

We hope this survey kicks off a dialogue and best-practices sharing among marketers. One of the 2007 initiatives of the eec's List Growth & Engagement Roundtable is to investigate various methodologies being used to value and grow an email list, and develop standards around them.

Read the executive summary of the survey results at the eec Web site and stay tuned for the full report (free to members). Join the discussion by emailing the Roundtable at listgrowth@emailexperience.org