September 14, 2012

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10 E-Mail Optimization Tactics E-mail is the Rodney Dangerfield of digital media. The day-to-day workhorse doesn’t get the respect it deserves. But new innovations and technology changes could soon change all that according to a new report from Lyris. Ubiquitous, fast, intensely measurable and cheap, e-mail is the go-to medium for almost every marketer. US marketers, according to eMarketer and longtime DM guru Arthur Middleton Hughes will spend $1.5 billion on it this year. Surveys of email Q2 2012 performance data from Experian’s Cheetahmail and from Epsilon show total open rates north of 20% with unique opens approximately 15% and click-to-open rates of 15%. More than half of brands reporting e-mail performance saw a statistically significant lift in year-over-year open rates. Consumers embrace email because it works for them. Getting the subject line and personalization right dramatically increases engagement and yield. Consider these 10 technologies and tactics that will continue to enhance e-mail performance. List Integrity & Growth. Your list is your WMD. But at any given moment 15-20 percent of your names have either gone dormant or are dead men walking; customers who are done with you but haven’t bothered to unsubscribe. Monitor responses and opens and build business rules to gauge and preserve the health of your list. Segment the lists by the frequency of opens or clicks or the absence of the same. Start winning back lapsed customers sooner rather than later. E-mail marketers need to be vigilant in scrubbing lists and in continuous data gathering to insure messaging is personal and relevant. Many e-mail marketers run dedicated Google Adgroups using key words like offers, deals or weekly specials as an always-on low cost name acquisition tactic which generally works. Transactional Messaging. These mundane messages that serve as receipts and facilitate the mechanics of transactions can be powerful follow-up vehicles. Use them to cross-sell and to grease the pipeline for the next best offer. Triggered Abandoned Cart Messages. A healthy numbers of shoppers abandon their carts for a variety of reasons. E-mail has a two-fold value in this situation. E-mail reminds shoppers about the abandoned merchandise and makes an offer that can save as many as 29% of these otherwise lost sales. Follow-up research has shown that the same type of e-mail can stimulate on-premise sales as well. Off-line E-mail Multiplier. Combining postal and email into a concerted campaign against an existing customer base can yield a double whammy in terms of results A retailer, mentioned in the Harvard Business Review Blog, experimented on105, 000 loyalty card customers and found that those who received both postal and email had the highest response rates and highest average orders yielding the most dollars per name mailed. For every email sale, this retailer also got 3 in-store sales. Beyond the immediate purchase stimulus, e-mail plays an offline branding and traffic-building role. Mobile E-Mail Use. More e-mail is read on mobile devices than on PCs or laptops. In a typical day, 84% of mobile users check their accounts at home. 80% check at miscellaneous times including standing on lines, at work, in transit and even in the bathroom. Understand where and why customers and prospects check e-mail to create new persuasion and entertainment opportunities corresponding to predictable need and purchase patterns. Improved Targeting & Segmentation. Doing less better is a mantra for continuously improving e-mail performance. The better you know who you are mailing to and the tighter the offer, tone and manner; the better the result. Savvy marketers have abandoned e-mail carpet-bombing in favor of mailing smaller, discrete data-driven segments. Priority Inbox and Filtering. Gmail’s “Priority Inbox” filters inbound e-mail and creates a hierarchy of importance for users. Toutapp, Asana, Zigmail and others are refining this process. Effective e-mail communications will have to become more immediately relevant and personal to get opened. Given the high volume of e-mail, not to mention Spam, that the average person gets daily, anticipate filters and use every data point to insure that your messages are sorted IN rather than OUT. Social Inbox. Social media is impacting e-mail in three ways. First, the social impetus is to immediately share interesting content or offers with your network of friends. Prepare for this opportunity. Create content and embed links, videos or images to make this easy and to prompt users to share. Second, drive e-mail sign ups and simultaneous data capture by using social sign-on as your engagement gateway. Encourage consumers to sign-on and sign-up using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Pinterest or other relevant social credentials. Third, groups of friends and...
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4 Speed Bumps for Social Media Social media has transformed and bedeviled marketers. The idea and promise of 24/7 interactivity and dialogue with customers, partners and co-workers is equally scary and seductive. Social media’s potential to transform markets and marketing are limited by four big issues that keep most of us scratching our heads and retard adoption and investment. Chicken or Egg Affinity. Do our fans followers like and follow us because they already know and love our brands? Or does the interaction and dialog on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others create affinity and advocacy? Are we preaching to the choir or recruiting new members? If so, can we mobilize these committed fans to spread the word and increase purchases? We’re also skeptical about the reach and impact of the so-called friends multiplier. How many friends of friends can we actually reach and what is the immediate and aggregate impact of those messages? Uncertain Business Value. How do we translate followers and fans into initial sales, repeat customers, increased market share and brand advocates? How can we justify incremental investments in social media without a clear and commonly accepted methodology for calculating ROI? Too much research focuses on how to optimize platforms rather than on how to make a buck. We are skeptical of “engagement” metrics, which justify spending without correlating returns. And we have a hard time believing Zuckerberg and others who seek to transform or disrupt our business models without our input or agreement. Fear of Big Data. Consumers seem to be willing to trade offers for privacy. But marketers are much less willing to trade liability for invasion of privacy for uncertain insight. The promise of massive data collection and processing yielding startling insight or competitive advantage is usually overstated. And the high price is rarely mentioned. We want to know our customers better but we’re anxious about TMI and its risk potential. Absence of Best Practices. Social media is evolving. There is no consensus about best practices across platforms, disciplines or industries. Marketers are reluctant to play a new game without a playbook. Nobody is really sure what each platform does or how to layer or combine social efforts to achieve business or communications goals. Some of the confusion will go away naturally as we learn by doing. But without established norms and benchmarks, social media will be stuck in first gear.

Danny Flamberg

I am a veteran marketing consultant working with leading and emerging brands

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