Beyond Attribution: Battling For More Email Marketing Budget

Recently a group of marketers kicked around the question "How do we make sure email gets the credit it deserves, so we can get the budgetary resources we need?"

Many suggested the answer is getting email attribution correct; that is, accurately conveying email's contribution to revenue to management.

I agree, to a point. Pinpointing channel attribution means email gets its proper credit among all your marketing channels. Many attribution models are thought to under-count email marketing. Some companies, such as those with deep roots in catalog marketing, might even have an overt attribution bias toward direct mail.

However, showing that email contributes, say, 20% of revenue from sales might not be enough to persuade top management to cut you a larger slice of the budget pie.

You're more likely to get management's attention if you show how you can execute on these four approaches:

  • Boost 20% to 30% or more in the next 18 months.
  • Increase revenue from the email channel by XX%, and whatever is greater in percentage or dollar value than other channels.
  • Use email to help other channels increase sales.
  • Use email to address key corporate initiatives and goals.



Focus on explaining to management how to make the overall revenue pie bigger so everyone gets a larger slice.  With email marketing, you should show how much money is left on the table when the channel is underinvested.

Why Attribution Isn't the Complete Answer

If you seek only to show that email drives 20% of sales instead of the 15% or 17% that current attribution models show, you've uncovered only part of the story.  That focus is historical instead of future-looking.

Underestimating attribution for email probably isn't the main reason that email doesn't get the budget share you want or that it deserves. Many companies value email as a channel, but they don't invest heavily in it because they see email as inexpensive and simple. It makes a lot of money as is, so why spend more on it?

Make Your Case in Four Steps

Not only do you need accurate attribution, but also a roadmap that lays out how email marketing supports strategic goals and initiatives and forecasts the ROI from increased budgets and resources.

1. Beyond channel attribution, analyze and convey how the different channels work together and where email excels.  Suppose that paid and natural search leads to most of your customers' first online purchases but that email delivers most of those important follow-up purchases: second, third and beyond. You might be able to show that email-driven customers are more loyal, buy more and have higher lifetime value.

2. Create an email-marketing plan that demonstrates significant opportunities for increased revenue and value. This plan should delineate the additional programs and technologies required to support these programs, and forecast the likely ROI for each.

Provide reports to management on revenue per email and conversion rates for each type of email program you use, as well as total revenue from email.

Outline your current programs, or consider which programs (replenishment, purchase reminders such as anniversaries and abandoned cart/browse sessions, reward programs, premium shopper clubs, etc.) would drive the greatest revenue.

3. Demonstrate efficiency by leveraging existing funded technologies and enhancing existing programs. Show how each of these above programs can be improved and revenue increased by XX percent by leveraging data and content from your Web analytics, CRM, recommendation/personalization vendor, etc., and by expanding these emails to a multi-part series, moving to real time and other enhancements.

Total it up. This should help you show management how a more sophisticated email-marketing program can increase revenue by your forecasted percentage.

4. Get outside help from vendors, technology partners and other third-party support sources. To support all of these efforts, get case studies and presentations from your ESP or marketing automation provider, or ask them to present to you and management a simple roadmap and examples of programs from other clients and expected results.

Involving your partners can be key, because management often will give more credence to the message if they hear it from outsiders rather than their own employees.

Until next time, take it up a notch!

Next story loading loading..