Email is now firmly ensconced in brands’ marketing automation plans but has yet to seal its critical role by adopting business metrics. For the channel to underline that is no longer working in a silo, email marketers need to think beyond quoting traditional metrics, according to Adam Sharp, managing director of marketing automation consultancy Clever Touch.
“Email is the spine throughout a customer’s experience and so it’s important to look at it beyond terms such as open rate and click-throughs,” Sharp says. “Those metrics aren’t necessarily wrong, but they measure the short-term effect of a single communication. What we’re hearing from businesses is that they want to be able to measure email’s long-term effect of how customers are perceiving their brands.”
Email Is Central For Rating Prospects
Based on his experience of advising brands on marketing automation tools — particularly around how tools can be made to ‘talk’ to one another — Sharp believes that email is the core of a three-part process. Most brands now want a content management system to feed into automation tools, which feed into a CRM platform. Email is typically sitting in that middle layer of automation, and plays the most central role in distributing content and providing feedback on customers, which can inform the CRM platform.
“Email has typically been viewed as a transactional mechanism where you’re telling people about what you’ve got to sell and so it made sense to measure how many people opened and clicked-through,” he says. “Now brands are looking at the entire customer experience and feeding data into a CRM, they’re far more interested in using email as an identifier which can show where a customer is in their journey, but to then further segment their database so they know how and where to push people through their sales funnels.”
With the most astute businesses he is currently talking to or working with, this entails email as the identifier for a customer around which a profile is built and that person is scored.
“It obviously varies considerably, but most brands are trying to get away from using email just to pump out more and more stuff,” he says. “The clever ones are seeing that you can build up profiles and score people. You may know that someone of a particularly job level in a particular industry is your sweet spot so you can score them higher. That can then inform what you send to them, and it can also inform how frequently you get in contact.
“if someone’s not yet shown you that they’re a great prospect who’s looking to convert, there’s no point bombarding them. However, if someone is scoring highly and looking like they’re ready to convert, that can prompt some different kinds of messages and for the frequency to be changed, according to the brand’s wishes.”
So, rather than just talk in "bounce rates," "opens" and "click-throughs," email marketers need to convert what those terms mean to the business. Increasingly this will be around showing how a campaign has brought in so many new prospects with a particular "score" (relating to their propensity to convert into a good sales lead) or how many existing prospects have been moved further along the sales funnel.
The average CFO probably isn’t overly bothered by how many people opened the last email shot. But mention how the latest campaign has led to an X% increase in prospects showing signs of becoming a qualified sales lead and you’re far more likely to get his or her attention.