A Thanksgiving Story

It's that wonderful time of the year when we all begin to prepare for the holiday rush (if we're not already in the throes of it). If you are a retailer, you are already going full steam ahead and probably aren't even reading this article--we'll talk to you again after Christmas. For those in other types of business, the end of the year is a great time to assess what you are doing well, what you could be doing better, and how you will do it all again next year.

Like clockwork, I've started receiving requests from clients and account teams to provide statistics that they can use as benchmarks to assess the validity of their programs. As I do each year, I went out and bought the Marketing Sherpa report: E-mail Marketing Benchmark Guide 2006.

But how do you benchmark your individual program against a detailed 280-page industry report? What do you do with 280 pages of stats? In a nutshell, the answer lies in how you want to tell your story. Keeping with the theme of Thanksgiving in the U.S., and by way of illustration of this point, I've decided to tell my story as a list of measurable outcomes for which I am grateful.



I give thanks for:

  • The total number of people we reached this year with positive messaging through e-mail.
  • The declines in my database churn from 2004 to 2005.
  • The 20 percent of new members who entered my programs in 2005--and the 5 percent who referred us to others after joining.
  • The 35 percent of my database on which I was able to measure a response in 2005--it's nice to know you're alive, folks.
  • The third-party lists that I used for acquisition this year--I can believe in you again.
  • Broadband, because my rates of viewers who have it at home are through the roof.
  • The 1 percent of people who actually bought things from me via e-mail.
  • The percentage of my audience that quit responding to pure offer strategies and direct response messaging--you made me rethink how I was communicating with you.
  • The 99.99 percent of the AOL audience who did NOT report me as a spammer.
  • The ESPs, for being so proactive in communicating about Utah/Michigan Child Protection laws, so I wasn't blindsided (unlike with CAN SPAM in 2004).
  • The emergence of deliverability and resolution services to augment any less-than-stellar deliverability services from an ESP.
  • New tools that allow me to preview how my e-mail looks in all e-mail client environments without seeding them.
  • The reporting tools now available that make my life easier; it's great to tell the whole story without waiting a month to pull everything together.
  • The people that opted out of my messages instead of ignoring them.
  • And lastly, I give thanks to everyone who has made e-mail such a talked-about channel; it now gets the attention it deserves.

    As a wise old man said to a young person before she started a new job, "What is the last thing a camel does before it goes out into the desert on a long journey? He takes a big drink of water. Better take a big drink--it may be a while before you get another one."

    There are precious few times in the year when you can really reflect on what you did well, and how that will help you move the needle in 2006. Hopefully these thoughts will give you a little added perspective.

    Happy Thanksgiving.

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