Could Your Email Program Benefit From A Diet?

So it may be a little clichéd, but with March and shorts weather finally upon us, it is definitely time to hit the gym and a diet (for me, at least, it's my annual routine). This led me to spend some time last night re-familiarizing myself with the Weight Watchers PointsPlus system.  I figured that by counting points for every ounce of ice cream (uhhhh, fruits and veggies) I put in my mouth, this act should somehow curb my bad behavior. 

If counting points works for modifying bad eating behavior, what could it do for email? In order to find out, I am assigning points to email tactics that marketers use every day.

Email marketers get 30 points a month. Engaging in activities you know you shouldn't – but you just can't stop yourself from (like my coconut chocolate-chip ice cream addiction) – will earn you extra points. (Can you believe just a ½ cup of said ice cream is 9 points?!). Track your points this month and tell us how you do.



1 point every time you touch a subscriber with an email marketing or promotional message. This does not include transactional or account maintenance touches (for example, lost password, etc.). If you touch each customer with one marketing message a day, you will quickly reach your points capacity. If you are more selective in segmenting and targeting, you will consume your points on a much slower pace. By exercising some restraint (in the form of systematic targeting and logical offer segmentation), you can create a more relevant experience for your subscribers, which should be the goal in the long run.

3 points every time you send an email that goes full-file. Sending messages to your entire subscriber base is not something that should be done every time you have a message to send, but it is a periodic necessity. Announcements that affect all of your customers, like product launches or mass customer service notifications, are all communication moments that often require a full-file send. However, if you look at your business systematically, you will likely identify clear and simple lines of demarcation that will allow you to communicate more succinctly with a smaller subset of your subscriber base.

5 points for sending a message that doesn't render well on a mobile device. Your email is mobile. Like it or not, a very high percent of your open activity is happening on a mobile device. But if your customers are not able to engage with you then and there, chances are they will delete the message and your opportunity will be lost. So every time you hit the "send" button, make sure your subscribers are receiving an email that will rendering properly -- wherever they may be reading it.

10 points for sending messages with errors in them Take your pick. Mistakes happen, I know. Just when I think I have seen it all, I am reminded how deep that rabbit hole can go. Incorrect personalization (thanks for the birthday wish in October, but my birthday is actually in May! And by the way, my name isn't Steve -- go figure), broken links, incorrect Subject lines, test language, place holder copy, take your pick. But what's done is done once you hit that send button – so be sure to QA really closely.

Good behavior doesn't go unnoticed. For example, every time I work out, I give myself some activity points. They are extra points so I can eat that pizza on Friday with the kids. And you too should get a reprieve when you are extra good. So, if you demonstrate any of the following activities, you can create a slush fund of points to be used in that month to offset the "questionable" moments in your email program.

1 credit for leveraging data to make your email more relevant. You have a wealth of information at your fingertips about your subscribers, so use it. It can be as simple as using email engagement metrics to further fine-tune the content or cadence of messaging with a subset of your subscribers. You don't have to make it overly complicated – just be smart about how and where you draw the lines. 

5 credits for leveraging lifecycle communications to achieve relevant timing. They say that timing is everything. Your email program is no different. There are messages that a brand can send to me that are extremely important to me at a given moment in time -- but if you miss that window, the opportunity to grab my attention may be gone as well. We live in a world that requires immediate gratification, and being able to deliver that with your email program requires some very smart and tight data integration. You deserve credit for that!

Vacation time is drawing near, which means the countdown to lose my hibernation weight is officially on. The art of tracking points has helped me to make decisions about what I eat each day. Maybe it can help you decide if it is really worth it sending an email to a customer who, in the end, may not really care. Happy points-counting. Let me know how it goes!

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