Is Your Email Marketing Program Stuck In A Rut?

In my meetings with marketers, a common frustration I hear is that they lack the budget, people and time to get things done.  Well, I've been hearing these complaints over and over – and have uttered them myself – in my nearly 30 years in marketing.

Marketers today also face newer challenges such as the need to create more content in more channels, optimize for more devices, environments and distractions and try to act on a rising river of data, along with deeper issues that keep marketing organizations from peak performance, costing millions in lost revenue.

But you have to do more than complain about your challenges to move your program ahead. Take charge instead. Create a new way of thinking among your email teams and reset the process for getting things done.

Below is my prescription for getting off the hamster wheel, shaking things up and taking your marketing program to a higher level:

•               Get out of the office: What shapes "same old" thinking? Talking to the same people in the same place and same ways. Ditch your office on a regular basis. Move your workspace to a coffee shop for a few hours. Take your marketing team to an offsite planning retreat. Go out into the field and spend time in your customers' shoes. Attend industry conferences.



•               Read, read, read to get inspired: Don't just read columns about how to improve your marketing tactics. Read beyond your core focus. I find inspiration in Harvard Business Review articles, political books, online discussions about sustainability topics and the like. Then I think about applying these ideas to marketing.

•               Stay abreast of emerging techniques: Become a sponge. Attend webinars and user conferences like your ESP's client summit. Seek out local and regional events and online communities. Read case studies. Subscribe to competitor emails as well as those from companies outside your industry.

•               Benchmark against the best:  My motto: "Average is the new bottom." Too many marketers use the wrong metrics or compare themselves to the average when benchmarking. "Average" is only a starting point. Measure your performance against the top performers and the metrics you need to achieve your business goals.

•               Focus on conversions and revenue: Are you tracking only process metrics like open and click-through rates, page views, leads, etc? These have a role, but output metrics are the only ones that matter to management: conversions, closed deals, revenue, etc. If you report only tactical metrics like higher open rates, don't expect the CMO or CEO or other executives to approve your next request for additional resources.

•               Collaborate with other teams: I continue to be amazed at how unaware many email marketing teams are about initiatives and technologies in other departments or marketing teams in their company. Schedule regular meetings or lunches with staff from other departments to uncover joint opportunities and shared resources.

•               Get top-level buy-in: Management support is the No. 1 differentiator between top marketing teams and average performers. Teams that are in sync with management and C-level executives more often get the support they need to get the important things done -- maybe not everything they want to do, but the really important, revenue-generating "need-to-do" activities.

•               Find your company's fulcrum:  You'll get management's attention and support if you focus your email marketing efforts on tackling a major business/marketing challenge or biggest revenue opportunity. Maybe you need to convert more "freemium" customers into paid; reduce print and postage costs; or turn one-time buyers into loyal repeat customers and brand advocates. Identify a problem, and go solve it.

•               Don't boil the ocean: Focus your new program efforts on "starting practices" instead of "best practices." Sure, a real-time triggered, three-message cart-abandonment remarketing program with personalized product recommendations would be awesome. Instead of taking six to nine months or more to launch the perfect program, however, start capturing lost revenue sooner with a simpler but well-executed program. Then, after launch, work on continual optimization and sophistication.

What are you doing to get your program out of a rut? Let me know in the comments.

Until next time, take it up a notch.

1 comment about "Is Your Email Marketing Program Stuck In A Rut?".
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  1. Amy Birch from Wired Marketing, April 15, 2013 at 6:16 a.m.

    Great post, thanks Loren. Love point 4 - Benchmark against the best. You've got to aim high!

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