We talk a lot about optimizing email-marketing programs here in Email Insider columns, at industry conferences, etc. There's nothing wrong with this. In fact, perpetual optimization is a habit that all marketers should adopt. But expending your limited resources only on a tiny improvement here and a tweak there -- subject lines, say, or where to put the unsubscribe link in the email template -- can distract you from going for the break-through opportunity that will drive dramatic increases in revenue, generate more high-quality leads, increase loyalty or accomplish whatever your email and business goals are.
Public policy has become topical in the email industry again. Frankly, we shouldn't give a rat's whisker about the legislation -- CAN-SPAM, the Rush Bill, the Boucher Bill or any of the next bills to tumble down Capitol Hill. As email marketers who simply want to continue a dialogue with our customers and subscribers, shouldn't we already be Beyond Reproach?
We're all about to take our last deep breath before rushing into the fray for holiday 2010. So now is a good time to ask: how good are your holiday plans? Here are three tactics it's not too late to consider.
As noted in recent Email Insider posts, e-mails are most likely to get opened not only when they are personalized, but also relevant to the recipient. This is especially true for the subject line. A mere 50 characters (the length of a typical subject line) are all you have to grab the attention of readers, enticing them not only to open your e-mail, but to take the desired action rather than report the e-mail as spam. For consideration, we share the top five insights for writing subject lines that are not squandered, but rather ensure campaigns are destined for success.
List size, list size, list size -- as much as I hate to say it... yes, size does matter. The harsh reality for most email marketers is that many of us are not judged on the performance of our email programs, but on the size of our lists or subscriber database. And as much as we want to move toward the quality versus quantity model for success metrics and key performance indicators, some of those around us are not as ready for the shift. So when you live in a world where size matters, what do you do?
I'll never forget a conversation I had with my graduate advisor my first semester as a sociology grad student. I had scheduled a meeting to discuss my first big research project with him and made the comment, "Well, in my experience..." He stopped me mid-sentence, his eyes got large, and he took a deep breath. "Listen to me," he said. "Your personal experience is irrelevant here. You are not a representative sample."
It's a major strategic and creative challenge to stand out during the holiday season -- as well as during other major holiday seasons like Mother's Day, Father's Day and Valentine's Day. It's significantly less challenging to stand out during the April Fool's Day or Cinco de Mayo season. Show up and the battle is half-won. Minor holidays offer a wealth of opportunities to flex your creative muscles and do something different from your competitors. Here are some of my favorite minor holiday-themed emails from the past few years:
Are you reading this article in the email MediaPost sent you, or from a tweet that you followed? Or from a blog or content site that linked you to it? Are you planning on adding it to your site or blog, or tweeting about it? Content distribution is critical to any business's success, and it relies on an entire supply chain of people developing, syndicating and monetizing the media. Email is one of the key channels involved. Email is not an "and/or" question, it's "and... what else?"
We marketers tend to think about the transactional email in its most literal sense, relating to a specific transaction as defined by the CAN-SPAM Act and by conventional wisdom. But transactional emails can become a potent force in your email program when you broaden your vision and look for ways they can enrich your customer relationships, from pre- to post-transaction and beyond.
We are good at asking for referrals, we ask prospects where they heard about us so we can recognize referral sources, and we reward people who refer a lead to us. All of this is very manual, which made me think: if there is a process to automatically generate referrals, a business could exponentially grow its customer base with little additional effort. Could email marketing be the engine that makes this possible?