Are Best Practices Holding You Back?

Now, before you get too excited, I'm not talking about taking your program down a rathole and throwing away good marketing practices. What I am talking about is a better way to get things done and generate more revenue more quickly.

When I speak with clients, prospects or conference attendees about ways to take their email marketing programs to a higher level, I almost always hear about some combination of challenges that prevent them from acting, such as not having enough time, resources, budget or help from IT.

Having been a marketing executive for many years, I can empathize with this reality. But, recently, I've discovered yet another challenge that holds many marketing departments back: the feeling that they must launch a "best practices" program out of the gate.

That's an overwhelming prospect. No wonder so many marketers give up and stay with business as usual.

My advice: Don't overcomplicate things. Use what I call a "starting practices" approach, with an eye and a plan for getting your program to the Mount Everest of email sophistication.



Every day that you do nothing is another day you leave money on the table and make it harder for your email program to catch up later.

Launch With "Starting Practices"

1. Figure out where you want to end up.  For example, your end game cart-recovery email program might incorporate the following elements:

  • First email in a series of three messages is sent in real time after abandonment.
  • Messages include follow-on cart expiration and product scarcity reminders.
  • Messages include abandoned product SKUs and images.
  • Template is optimized for mobile.
  • Messages add related product recommendations.

2. Work backward to a starting point. You could launch your cart abandonment program with a single email sent 24 hours after abandonment and just a link back to the cart, but no SKU information. Next, you could add SKU data and a product image, and then second and third reminder emails. Your next steps could be sending your first email reminder in real time after abandonment and then adding product recommendations.

This end-game program might take six to 18 months to achieve, but you could launch your phase one program in less than two months.

Breaking the planning process down into manageable phases gets you into the game quickly, generating additional revenue in weeks instead of many months or a year or longer.

3. Keep "best in class" principles in mind as you move to each phase.  You might just be sending a single cart reminder, but that one email should be the best one you can create, one that builds your brand and provides an excellent customer experience.

A "starting practice" or phased approach does not mean you compromise on quality; simply that you launch and improve programs in more doable, bite-sized chunks.

Making Progress One Step at a Time

One of our clients with essentially a one-person marketing department took a few years to build up its transactional and triggered email program -- now at 50 different emails – but the time spent was worth it.

Transactional/triggered emails grew, slowly but surely, from 2% of email volume and 1% of revenue at the start to 12% of volume today, while driving 30% of all revenue from email.

And that's the point. Neither Rome nor your world-class email-marketing program was built in a day.

Once you have solid revenue figures to report, you can build your case to management for the resources you'll need to move to the next phase. You might even find that your initial progress could help you secure the investment you need to see you all the way through to the end.

You are asking your management to take a big leap of faith when you solicit them for more money. Be accountable, using the metrics that matter most to management, such as revenue, cost savings and other efficiencies. Be conservative in your forecasts.

Finally, remember that even if you accomplish the seemingly impossible and achieve the best-practices/end-game email marketing program of your dreams, you still aren't done. Now it's time to rinse and repeat for all your other programs as well!

Until next time, take it up a notch.

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