As consumers in an increasingly interactive world, we're all faced with the challenge of wading through a rising flood of messages from a growing number of marketers across a range of both digital as well as physical channels. E-mail is just one.
Faced with these ever-expanding choices and a general overload of information, consumers see tremendous value in brands that can simplify the seemingly complex. But as marketers, we're unlikely to make our customer propositions and messaging more straightforward if we can't first make sense of the equally overwhelming number of options that help drive and measure both our overall marketing programs - not to mention our e-mail programs.
We're all familiar with the latest and greatest e-mail trends like segmentation, triggered e-mail, dynamic content, and response-based marketing - but do you really know what these are doing for your program in practice? For many of you, the bottom line is that your e-mail programs have become far too complex in terms of design, segmentation, and timing.
Because we've all got much more to do and less time and resources to do it (in fact, I'm lucky if you've read this far!), many of you have patched together teams of multiple vendors: one for the business brief, another for the creative brief, an agency to build the e-mail, and then a provider to deliver your precious cargo. As a result, many programs suffer from the complexity of being hand-offs between so many moving parts, leaving no time for applied learning.
I recommend getting back to basics. Forget dynamic content and triggered e-mail for now. The truth is, the simpler the program, the easier it is to truly understand the value of the channel to your customers and your business.
Here are five key guidelines to help you (and your e-mail program) keep it simple:
1. Be clear about your goals. Keep
objectives to a maximum of two to three per campaign. Any more and your program will become muddled.
2. If there isn't a measurable value on an action, question it. Every step is measurable, including what your vendors are doing.
3. Only test what you are able to act upon. Why measure today what you can't change tomorrow? Stick with what you can measure and adjust to achieve greater results.
4. Quantify response -- both in cost to attain and cost to manage.
5. Stick to a six-word return on investment. If you can't state the return on your program in six words, it's too complex.
If you haven't already seen it, Opt-In News has a great and wonderfully simple "E-mail Tune-Up" tool online that I recommend. Some of you might find it useful for getting back to the basics of e-mail marketing.
By building upon the above foundations, you will be able to construct manageable, comprehensible programs. Success in e-mail is essentially a function of applied learning. As Forrester noted in a report about business intelligence a few months back, success in the future is not about mass customization, it rests on our ability to act on what we learn.
Add simplicity to this equation, and you will have the makings of a winning e-mail program. And ultimately, simplicity in your business proposition and process helps deliver effective communications to your customers that are easier to understand.