New email data is creating opportunities to become more efficient. Consider the increasing scrutiny of head-to-head engagement, where marketers focus on how users behave when competitors share the inbox. (As I’ve said before, these aren’t necessarily their direct competitors -- often we vie for subscriber attention with senders outside our verticals.) One strength of head-to-head analyses, or bake-offs, is a clear win (or loss), which can shorten the search for effective campaign tactics. Need a winback campaign? Just look at the winback messages your subscribers are getting, avoid the elements that aren’t engaging them, include the ones that are, and hone your winback campaign from there. By starting from a proven concept, you’ll generate more revenue sooner, but you’ll also learn things about your subscribers that can apply beyond the email channel.
Beyond basic tactics, these head-to-head comparisons can reveal your subscribers’ preference for tone, product positioning, key benefits, and other insights that can boost marketing results across the organization. That can translate to more direct revenue, as well as better performance from branding and awareness efforts. Your email campaign analysis can influence your messaging in mass media -- in fact, it should.
Part of email’s value as a broad testing platform is speed. Reliable results from your campaigns and from head-to-head comparisons are available in hours. Moreover, these tests aren’t merely cheap, they’re typically profitable. That means that the email team can test abstract ideas within the framework of a direct response campaign, find out quickly which ones resonate with your audience, expand the winners to build a profitable effort, and share the results with the rest of the marketing organization to make other efforts successful. And fund the whole exercise.
Some of this is undoubtedly happening already. If this sounds like another way to apply the multivariate testing, segmentation discipline, and marketing optimization that have been direct marketers’ staples for decades, that’s because it is. The difference is that new analytical capacities like engagement-based competitive intelligence and overlap performance are now making the results clearer, more accessible, and faster.
The technology beneath these advances is evolving every day, so this view of the inbox as a cross-channel testbed has gone from theoretical to widely available almost overnight. Especially in the ecommerce arena, marketers are catching up. Look for brand stewards and communications strategists to follow shortly.
But consider yourself warned. Even as leaders across the organization expand their understanding of what email can contribute beyond revenue, they’ll still depend on the email team for the one thing it produces more efficiently than any other part of the marketing machine: money.