Email has remained so constant over the years, it's almost predictable. Email is a bottom feeder from a budget perspective and often gets a bad rap. Yet can you blame the naysayers? Today is Valentine's Day, so you likely subscribed to some florist, retailer, airline, hotel, and winery. Everyone targets you in the same fashion. I received 115 Valentine's Day messages in the last two weeks. Ironically, Kodak decided to re-permission me this week -- the email purists will love that they did this automatically- "OPT OUT". Add to this the Super Bowl wave of last weekend and my email inbox is filled with Love and Pizza.
Standing out in the inbox is becoming increasingly hard and will become increasingly more difficult as we evolve to the portable, universal inbox. The challenge is we all seem to use the same strategies and techniques. If you run an email program today, I'd bet you would be hard-pressed to demonstrate any dramatic changes in your program from last year to this year. I don't blame you -- there's no budget, no resources and the classic "Drive Top Line while compressing bottom line."
The million-dollar question becomes how you incrementally add value to your program without completely disrupting what you've built over the year. Better yet, how do you do this with the same budget you had last year?
I try to write about new ways to think about the channel. Today, I'm going to give you tips that may be redundant to some things you have read, yet will have impact on tomorrow. Begin with:
Simplifing your creative NOW. We spend far too much energy on revitalizing creative. Don't get me wrong, good creative does pull, but does the effort involved warrant the output? Depending on your business, I believe most could compress creative costs 25% with rational approaches and better content management. This is a huge expense that is woefully inefficien
Don't test unless you truly have an organizational commitment to "optimization." Most aspire to do testing, because that is what marketers are supposed to do. Yet few have the resource to do it properly with any scale. If your company is not committed to email as a cross-functional engagement vehicle, no testing will ever be valuable to your business. You have to take into account business intelligence (financial/operation) and marketing intelligence (channel performance/consumer insight) and then translate that to budget optimization intelligence (how you spend to keep the needle moving). This is what drives testing.
Invest in the interconnections between your channel(s) and site? Attribution is a tough subject in the matrix world of digital. Email Marketers need new proxies. Tomorrow, I'd challenge your team and organization to redefine the value of email to your business, and don't settle on CPA, AOV and standard proxies that can't be defended in a matrix attribution scenario. You must blend the financial, the product, the consumer and the performance into a common set of proxies; either point in time or trend level views. Quality of your data will be the catalyst to this exercise.
Simplify 10% of your campaigns, compress your cycles 10% and you'll find time to do innovative and value-driven activities that improve the channel. You may even have some fun doing it.