Take this lesson from a smart email marketer I know. She says of her 2008 program, "If we didn't get started early this year with template testing, behavioral triggers and a new preference center, I don't know how we could have protected our channel revenue and been ready to respond to the trying dynamics of Q4."
With that in mind, and as you start to figure out priorities for 2009, consider these performance statistics that may help you organize existing resources or make the case for new resources.#1 Email delivers $57 for every $1 spent. (Source: The DMA, 2008)
I love this ROI number and I hate it -- for the same reason: It's very well recognized and commonly accepted. Love it because that gets our email priorities to the table, especially in this economy. Love it because it earns email some respect. Love it because it's generally true: email is very profitable (even though few of us actually hit that $57 ROI number, the margin email drives is indisputable).
Hate it because it makes email seem cheap and easy. Earning high ROI from email marketing requires infinitely more than a batch and blast approach and attitude. Yet, we are often forced by resource constraints and lack of executive understanding to blast our files for short term gain, instead of using a lifecycle-based approach that is more profitable in the long term -- both in absolute revenue, value per subscriber, satisfaction and loyalty and technological investment.#2 Spam now accounts for 90-95% of all email sent. (Source: Forrester Research, "Secret to Email Delivery" 2008)
Marketers and executives often bemoan the lack of control they have after hitting "send." However, the keys to good deliverability are still under the marketer's control - and all of it comes down to your sender reputation. Even better, come 2009 deliverability data is stronger and cooperation between senders and ISPs is higher.
Take advantage of the expanding access to deliverability data in the US, Europe and Asia to actively manage complaints. Keep your list clean. Tighten your bounce processing. Watch volume and frequency. Audit your infrastructure. Sounds simple, but it requires a long term view. Penalties come swift and hard: The presence of just one spam trap can drop your deliverability score by 19 points (Source: Return Path Q2 Deliverability Benchmark Study
). And complaint rates higher than just one tenth of one percent can still get your messages blocked at major ISPs. However, the rewards for good practices are stronger, too. Marketers with good sender reputations can qualify for receiver and third party whitelists, which can provide higher inbox placement as well as images and links on by default.
#3 While 70% of marketers collect enough data at sign up/registration, only 25% of them actually use it. (Source: Return Path Subscriber Experience Study, 2008
). Data is the new black, my friends, especially for 2009. Since few marketers are taking advantage, the opportunity is yours. Being even a little proactive with the data you have can set you apart in the inbox - and earn a higher response. JupiterResearch found that 60 % of purchases made from email were of products already under consideration ("The ROI of Email Relevance," 2005). It's simple in theory: Creating relevance is paramount to earning a response. Data makes our messages relevant.
How? Consider these examples. Retailers have earned a 30x boost from sending companion product messages to those who have already purchased or browsed. That is a 3,000% improvement over generic messages. Birthday greetings are among the highest opened messages, along with thank-you notes. Treating new subscribers from lead-gen sources with high complaint rates more carefully (e.g.: lower frequency, different messaging) can lower complaints rates significantly. Email series around renewable orders (everything from contact lenses to sports tickets to black socks to auto insurance) earn up to 200% higher return than generic marketing messages. Opportunity: Gather the right data, and use it.
Of course, it's important to note, also, that Forrester Research says 45% of interactive marketers don't clean their data or know when the last time it had been cleaned was ("Interactive Maturity Model," 2008). Before you tap this opportunity, be sure your data is up to date and accurate.
Relevancy may be the most overused word in email marketing, but I say, "Bring it on." If email marketers want respect in the board room, we will earn it by showing respect in the inbox. Happy holidays to all ---and here's to a great 2009 for email marketers, ISPs, all the partners and vendors who support them, and mostly -- our subscribers.