Happy Valentine's Day, Says The Optimist

An avid duck hunter was searching for a dog and finally found one that had everything he wanted; the dog even walked on water. One day, he took his dog out with an old friend. Time after time the ducks would fall and the dog would set off across the water without getting more than his paws wet.  At the end of the day, the dog owner says to his friend, "Did you see anything unusual about my new dog?" and his friend the pessimist replied, "Yeah, he can't swim!"  

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.

4 comments about "Happy Valentine's Day, Says The Optimist".
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  1. Dela Quist from Alchemy Worx Ltd, February 15, 2011 at 7:04 a.m.

    Great post David

    One of the problems the email industry has is that we love to make email marketing seem very much more complicated than it is or should be. We seem to prefer being up to our necks in the weeds "fixing" some arcane email specific issue to marketing. So it is nice to see you championing simplicity. Simple does not mean stupid.

    This is a must read for anyone who feels that they are too busy getting their campaigns out the door to do the smart stuff.

  2. Georgia Christian from Mail Blaze, February 15, 2011 at 9:05 a.m.

    Thanks for a refreshing read David and for putting it all back into perspective!

  3. Pamela Principe-golgolab from PNA Associates Inc., February 16, 2011 at 2:47 p.m.

    I agree with simplicity, David, especially as we embrace the world of mobile delivery. But please don't shoot creative! We still need highly creative professionals, especially writers who can craft that simple, yet impactful call to action. And you are so right - quality is the catalyst - and that goes hand in hand with creative. The right message will rule-or at least break through the clutter. Thanks for your ideas!

  4. Arthur Einstein from Loyalty Builders, February 18, 2011 at 2:45 p.m.

    David, David, David!!!
    Simplifying your creative is absolutely the right thing to do. But not to invest in testing new ideas and approaches is the first step on the road to the alms house. We live in a radically commoditized world. Creative the key to differentiation - gaining attention - authenticity - and retention. Love your work but testing isn't because the competition does it - it's to go to market smarter the next time. Sheeeeesh!!!

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