Simple Email, Simple Results

As I've said for years, "if you shoot for the stars, you'll land on the barn; if you shoot for the barn, you'll land in the pig pile." Are we shooting high enough when building, planning and executing our eCRM programs? Do we get enough recognition for the contributions of our email program? Are we doing enough to drive excitement for our contributions?

Most businesses will project a modest growth in revenue and profit -- with that comes a modest increase in marketing spend. Yet that distribution doesn't always funnel down to the email channel. How many of you had growth for years as a business, but your budgets for email were cut or remained stagnant?

There are three reasons why we'll remain an under-funded channel for 2010.

1. Most programs need to improve basic executions and operations and that's not sexy. Email is 80% operational and 20% strategic thinking. An incremental improvement in operational elements will go a long way in opening the door to doing more complex implementations. Some of this could be related to technology, some related to your production model (in-source vs. outsource) and some related to where you reside on the "urgency scale."



Do you operate in red-lined mode all the time? If you do, you are likely woefully inefficient and no technology will change that. You have to show operational responsibility. How you are growing with what you have, and how you plan to scale that over time. Some of it is simply looking closely at your operations with an efficiency mind, not a direct response mind.

2. Email is an enterprise communication channel with bad PR. No longer is email viewed in the same manner as Search and Media in the front of the funnel. It is not really seen as a relationship builder in the bottom of the funnel. While we like to speak of email as a relationship marketing tool, that is all it is -- a tool -- and it doesn't work alone. It is a support mechanism and a service to the customer. Let's not forget the fundamental value of why businesses use email: iIt is more cost-effective than a phone call or ad.

Unfortunately, we all consume email, so we all have our own perspective as a consumer of commercial email, and consumer perceptions of email usually trump the marketer's view. So, it will always skewed by our personal perceptions of the value, and budgeting will be affected. Even though CMOs recognize the value of email, don't ever forget they likely have a very negative perception of it as a relationship-building vehicle.

It's a cheap convenience to a business for staying in touch and top of mind with a consumer. This perception must change and better stories of consumer experiences and consumer feedback must accompany the culture. Look at Daily Candy; it's entire business was predicated on email and great stories of local connections. How many of your businesses or clients can say the same and see a real personal connection with your customers through email?

3. Think small, live small. You have to develop BEHAGs (Big, Enormous, Hairy, Audacious, Goals). These are the ones that will change the world and the fabric of your business. They should be lofty, should gain attention and you should be bold enough to resonate with all levels. If you continue to think small, think channel alone and not contribute to the vision and changing of the world or better yet your business, you'll always be relegated to limited budgets and share of voice.

No one cares about response rates except you, and no one is impressed with modest list growth numbers. But you will get attention if you "Own the Point of Intermediation." Own the connections, the digital experiences and dialogs at the beginning and end of the funnel. Be the connection between Advertising and Brand Experiences.

Email is simple! As I've said many times before, we aren't doing anything today that we didn't do 10 years ago. The visibility of the channel has risen among senior executives. Now we need to shift their view of the real contributions it makes to a business.

4 comments about "Simple Email, Simple Results".
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  1. Kristi Nelson from Trekk Cross-Media, January 11, 2010 at 1:58 p.m.

    You've made some excellent points here. I've long believed email should be viewed as another tool to continue the conversation, not just the final click to the shopping cart.

  2. Rick Graf from Digital Communications (Graf Inc.), January 11, 2010 at 2:14 p.m.


    This is one of best articles on the subject I have read to date. I've been waiting for someone to hit the nail on the head as it relates to email. You certainly did with this statement:

    "Let's not forget the fundamental value of why businesses use email: "iIt [It] is more cost-effective than a phone call or ad."

    Too often we forgot that the "cost-effective" phrase is what drives most business decisions. I must admit, though, that I would have prefer "cheaper" than to "cost-effective", but hey, you wrote the article, not me.

  3. Pat Mcgraw from [mcgraw | marketing], January 11, 2010 at 2:29 p.m.


    When you write "Most programs need to improve basic executions and operations and that's not sexy. Email is 80% operational and 20% strategic thinking", I think we would be safe to expand that to "Most marketing and sales organizations..." and "Marketing and sales is 80% operational..."

    With sales failing to contact 50-60% of all leads, and 70%+ of businesses without a lead nurturing program in place, one could easily double, if not triple, conversion rates (and sales) if the focus was placed on basic blocking and tackling.

    But that's not sexy...

    Great post.

  4. Jerry Foster from Energraphics, January 12, 2010 at 3:02 a.m.

    Very good article - CRM Programs like still need a lot of improvement in basic lead follow up facilitation via email (their Outlook integration needs to work better for starters).

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