Don't worry, folks, this is not another one of those "Email is dead" sound bytes, I promise. Or is it? What if your email program died? What would others say about it?
I recently took a 22-hour road trip with my 75-
year-old father-in-law (who is now living with my
family). You can talk about a lot in 22 hours; some stories were told two or three times, but who's counting? He is dealing with the emergence of some new health issues -- so mortality was at the top
of his list of conversation topics.
(Random side note: The level of assimilation some of us email marketers make between real life and email can sometimes be scary. Most recently, DJ Waldow likened it to the birth of his baby girl (a big public congratulations to you, my friend), and then I go and take it to the other extreme. Go figure. But give me a little wiggle room -- you just may find this exercise fun.)
Reflecting on our lives and accomplishments is something we all do from time to time. But the ultimate goal-setting exercise is to write your own obituary. OK, thinking of Google search rankings, the primary reason is so that you can get the last word -- but eventually it gets to this practice as a goal-setting exercise. I digress, but it got me thinking: why not write an obituary for clients' email programs? That should really get their attention during quarterly program review time! It isn't all that difficult to accomplish, and you may just uncover some areas of your program that you aren't as proud of as you led everyone to believe.
A structured obituary typically includes the following: name of deceased, photo (optional), cause of death, birth statistics, family statistics, survivors and education/major life experiences. Below I wrote a sample obituary that could be easily applied to any number of the email programs that hit my inbox on a daily basis:
The Daily Alert from XYZ was a fixture in our subscribers' inbox from 2007 until its sudden passing last quarter. It was deemed internally as the workhorse of our email program. It was highly targeted, but also very difficult to produce. It didn't drive the amount of revenue we had initially anticipated when the program was conceived --- but it sure was pretty to look at (when images actually rendered, of course). During the previous quarter, it realized open rates of about 12% and click-through rates of about 1%, which had been declining steadily.
It peaked early in 2008 with a 45% open rate and a 17% CTR -- so we let it go. But boy, did we let it go -- right into the toilet. We knew it needed a shot in the arm, but who has time for that? There are 30 other programs we run that need our attention too. We always meant to get to it -- but at last, the Daily Alert died -- and it took a good chunk of our database with it. R.I.P., Daily Alert. You will be greatly missed by the marketing team (though our recipients might not even notice). Thanks for all you've done.
So, maybe this obituary is a little melodramatic, but it is fun! Not only does it force you to look at your programs from another perspective, but it may even breathe a little life back into your analytics -- which may just get you the executive attention you need to actually effect programmatic changes!
I challenge you to write your email program obituary -- and post it in the comments if you dare! If for no other reason, than for our general entertainment!