Too many marketers measure their email program by counting valid email addresses. This is a classic way marketers are evaluated. If you grow the list you’re good. If you shrink it, you’re not. But while this may get you a bonus, it won’t get you results. The ugly truth is that at any given moment 20-30 percent of your list are dead men walking – consumers who haven’t opted out but have stopped caring, opening and clicking.
Email lists are fluid. Consumers want info and deals and then they don’t. Need, greed, timing, serendipity, promotions, cash flow and personality all drive inflows and outflows. The quantity, cadence, content, subject lines and offers in e-mail incent future interest and clicks or they don’t. Monitoring these variables is tedious but well worth it.
The key to continued email effectiveness is to be brutally honest about the list. Focus on these 3 critical tactics.
Recency Rules. People have a huge propensity to re-take a recent action again. They just did something. It feels good. They’ll do it again. Segment your list by recency and you’ll have a proxy barometer for brand health. Make your best offers to the people who bought last and they’ll buy again. If you can factor in purchase history, product cognates or monetary value, you will get even better results. Recent responders are the sharp tip of the email marketing spear.
Behavior Beats Demography. It’s what they do; not who they are that matters. Separate your list by opens and clicks. Mail more frequently to responders. Remember recency rules. After 6 touches and no response check their pulse. Tell them you are ending their subscription. In the absence of a response, dump them off the list. If you don’t you’ll have a bigger list but lower response rates so your bonus or promotion will be in jeopardy.
Content is King. They signed up with expectations of interesting news, deals and offers. If the content doesn’t deliver, consumers bail out. You must constantly test and evaluate the content. Mix up the offers. Test the sequences. Limit the number of items and stories in your email. More than 5 choices generally confuse consumers. Less is more.
Consumers are paradoxical. They want consistency and surprise. They want to know you are there for them regularly but they don’t want the same thing every time. Factor in offline behavior like average number of store visits, average ticket and average annual purchases per customer into your thinking. Nobody lives by email alone. Your content plan has to integrate into shopping mindsets and practical creature behaviors. Plan on cross-pollinating the experiences and parse your email messages to synch with sales, seasonality or style changes.
A smaller more responsive email list trumps a monster list with few responders. Assume that the list will wax and wane. Focus on the active participants to drive your business. Don’t get hung up or faked out by big numbers.