Email Optimization Versus Instant Gratification

One evening, at the start of a four-hour train ride at the end of a long day, I found myself wishing I could just close my eyes and be transported home immediately. This got me thinking about how we live in a society where people constantly seek instant gratification versus enjoying the journey. Just look at the number of "lose ten pounds in a weekend" ads and the abundance of get-rich-quick schemes bombarding us everywhere. The reality is that one has a better chance of getting hit by lightning than waking up a millionaire with a model-perfect physique. Yet we still yearn for these instant results.

Even email marketing plays into the instant gratification idealization. We deploy an email and within hours we can see how well it is performing -- so it's not a leap to understand why many marketers quest for the quick-fix solution that will result in response rates that soar through the roof.

The reality is that email marketing success does not happen overnight, any more than weight loss or riches. However, by taking the time to actually enjoy the ride, it's possible to painlessly optimize your email program over time. Here are some thoughts to get you started.

Look where you've been -- and appreciate the lessons learned. Conduct post-mortem reviews and benchmark your campaign metrics. Too frequently, marketers only look at top-line, ad hoc results. They're too busy blasting out the next campaign instead of slowing down to see what's really happening.

Identify the best- and worst-case scenarios -- in terms of day of week, time of day, seasonality, frequency, subject lines, offers, creative approach, lists and segments, domains, etc. Analyze the results from all perspectives. Is there an upward or downward trend? Or are results all over the place? What patterns do you see? How do results compare with industry benchmarks? How can these lessons be applied to future campaigns?

By thoroughly reviewing your campaigns today, you'll yield long-term learnings to improve tomorrow's campaigns.

Map the best route to your ideal destination. Without a clear understanding of your goals and objectives, it's very likely you'll end up in the land of the lost. Develop a master calendar, including sales seasons and holidays, with all integrated marketing efforts marked by the date they will reach the consumer. When does your print campaign hit the newsstands? When do your online media campaigns run? When do your direct mail campaigns drop? Take the steps needed to ensure all events are aligned and working in a synchronized fashion.

The ultimate goal is to create a comprehensive plan that leverages the impact of stacking and maximizes marketing dollars -- creating the biggest bang for your buck.

Explore a fresh perspective -- and get inspired along the way. I've always been fascinated by the out-of-the-box thinking in advertising, going back to the cool Absolut ad inserts that used to run in magazines -- to today's interactive viral campaigns where you're compelled to spread the word. But where do these ideas come from? And how can one stimulate the creative juices to develop the kind of thought-provoking concepts that create memorable campaigns that get results?

One way to start is to set up a dedicated email "swipe file" -- then expand your horizons and sign up for everything, not just your competitors' emails. Then, sit back and watch the flurry of campaign executions pour in. Create an email inspiration board and fill it with anything and everything that piques your interest. Somewhere in there, an idea will spark and ignite.

Don't be insane -- be fearless! So many clients prefer to play it safe, going with the "same ol' emails", and therefore getting the "same ol' results."

Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Isn't it time to break the mold? Next time you have that crazy wildfire idea, don't be afraid to try it out. Go ahead - email is the perfect vehicle to test it.

By taking the time to enjoy the journey and by breaking out of your routines, you just may experience some instant gratification and find you have a new zest for email along the way.



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