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34 entries from September 2007

links for 2007-09-11

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Using Lifetime Value to Evaluate Your Email Marketing Strategy

During the last decade, lifetime value (LTV) has become the standard method for measuring the success of customer marketing programs. Return on investment is used for campaigns, and profitability is used, particularly in banks, to take a snap shot of the performance of existing customers.

Lifetime value, unlike these other measurements, predicts the future performance of a group of customers, based on their past and current spending behavior. It's the net present value (NPV) of the future profits to be received from a given number of newly acquired or existing customers during a given period of years.

In this article Arthur Middleton uses a great example of a retailer to explain the principles involved.


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Integrating Email with Your Marketing Efforts

Integration means making sure that all of your messages make sense in the context of one another. Specifically to email marketers, integration means contributing to overarching brand goals in alignment with individual email goals. Typically, helping the larger marketing organization meet its goals translates into supporting other marketing communications.

However, sometimes email can take a lead role in integration, such as when a marketer with a loyalty program uses email as the main channel in describing benefits, account statements and other program elements. Most importantly, email integration should mean that email acts as part of a cohesive strategy, not as a stand-alone tactic.

As with the loyalty example above, email can represent a palpable element of a brand promise. Email can also augment other planned communications from catalog drops to broadcast TV flights to in-store events. Finally, email can augment efforts to reach consumer or customer segments that demonstrate substantially different interests from the ones addressed in other channels. In all of these cases, email helps reinforce major brand themes in a complementary fashion.

While email should integrate with as many other communication vehicles as possible, it makes the most sense to start with the channels that most closely relate to email and then move towards the channels with a less direct relationship:

  • Your website: the email should bear more than a passing resemblance to the linked website. Most importantly, this linkage means using some of the key design elements. The site itself should also help out the email marketer by collecting addresses with links posted in prominent positions.

  • Direct mail and catalogs: DM and email should coordinate offers to prevent confusion or, even worse, the situation where one channel offers a substantially better deal than the other. Use the precise timing of email to support direct mail offers and catalogs.

  • Events: email can help drive value from event marketing both before and after the event. Before, marketers can use email not just to tell consumers about an event, but also to set up specific appointments, to highlight special features or to tease key content. After the event, email offers an easy and personal way to thank those who attended and to drive them towards purchase. The event itself, by the way, is another great opportunity to gather email addresses. New opt-ins to the email should receive a welcome email that specifically mentions their event attendance.

  • Mass media: email marketers should happily freeload off the added brand awareness provided by ads on TV or in print media. Mass communications exposure means faster recognition of the email's sender in the inbox.

  • Public relations: keep an eye on the PR front for opportunities to let consumers know about a brand's successes. Use your discretion to separate exposures that interests the email audience from exposures that are too self-serving.

Source: iMediaConnection

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How to Build a Reputation for a New IP Address

Following a question that was posted on the Email Marketer's Club, Matt Vernhout wrote a blog post outlining the steps you should take when you start sending emails from a new IP address:

"The best way to build reputation, or to repair a reputation, on an IP address is to send small amounts of email to the ISP your working to build reputation at. These numbers have varied across the ISPs but you can be safe by starting with a few thousand message a day (less than 5000) after a couple of days or a week you should double this and then double again after another week. To build a proper reputation on an IP address between 50 and 100 thousand messages need to be sent and monitored by an ISP, approximately 3 business weeks mailing daily"

Continue reading here.

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Recipe for a Successful Email Campaign

In this article, Lisa Finfer outlines a four-step process to make sure your email campaign is as successful as it can be. To summarize:

1. Know your audience. What's important to the recipient? What profile characteristics do they have? What are their purchase tendencies or demographics? Obtaining solid recipient data yields long-term benefits and is worth the investment.

2. Be relevant! Spend some time trying to understand how the message can be segmented to different target audiences. Don't send generic email offers to everyone!

3. Create a strong wire frame template. Make sure your brand and offer is recognizable. Make sure the call to action is highlighted correctly (don't hide it at the bottom of the email). Keep your message short and make sure that the top 2-4 inches are used to convince the reader to keep on reading.

4. Manage your frequency. Set expectations by telling your readers about your mailing frequency or find out what the right frequency is by testing it.

Read the full article here.

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links for 2007-09-07

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How to Design for All Types of Readers

Stefan Pollard identifies 8 different email audiences in his latest article:

  1. Identifiers use the "from" address and the subject line to whittle down their overcrowded inboxes as fast as possible, deleting everything they don't want to read.
  2. Skimmers moved past identification and actually opened your message, but they want to read as fast as possible, using headlines, subheads and calls-to-action to help them decide whether to act or discard the message.
  3. Readers will take time to read the two to three sentences of body copy between the headline and the call to action so they can "learn more" about the specific topic the email is discussing and help them over the click-through hurdle.
  4. HTML readers like images.
  5. Text readers don't like images.
  6. Mobile readers skim through their inbox using web-enabled cell phones. Their number is increasing, especially in the B2B environment.
  7. Desk readers are the ones for whom most marketers design their emails. They are the majority and the most likely audience to act on your message.
  8. Searchers start out as members of one of the other audiences. Somewhere along the line they saw something they liked in your message but couldn’t deal with it right away and saved your message for later.

Each of these audiences reads your message a different way, so you  need to design your email in such a way that it appeals to as many of these audiences as possible, without creating a unique message for each one. Stefan offers lots of tips in his article: read it here.

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State of Email Metrics Survey is conducting its First Annual State of Email Metrics Survey. The idea behind the survey is to gather some great insight to our industry on how we use metrics and what other issues we are battling in the fight for the perfect inbox.

Simms Jenkins invites all email marketing professionals to fill in this survey. And if you participate and opt in, you will receive the preview findings before they are released.

Click here to complete the survey - it should only take 2 minutes of your time.

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Opt-out Is Spam and Spam Is Bad!

Derek Harding wrote a great article on ClicZ today which he concludes by saying: "Absent a law requiring consent, we need a united front on consent. That means our trade groups must make it clear that opt-out is spam and spam is bad for e-mail, bad for our customers, and bad for us. They must state without equivocation or prevarication that consent is a requirement and act to ensure their members adhere to such requirements. Without these actions, we'll be in just as bad shape in 2010 as we are now."

He's saying this because "there's been a great deal of discussion lately about why, after 10 years, e-mail marketing is still struggling with the basics of deliverability and consent." And he his continues by saying that "much of the trouble we see today is of our own making. We messed up, big time."

Why? Because "back in 2003, when the federal government sought to enact anti-spam legislation, a variety of industry groups pushed for, or acquiesced to those who pushed for, weak legislation that didn't actually outlaw spam. They argued that any marketer should be permitted to send one e-mail to anyone they wished and pushed for companies being permitted to send e-mail to anyone with whom they had a prior business relationship.

The end result was the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, nicknamed by some anti-spam activists as the "You CAN-SPAM Act" because it legitimized spam and overrode more restrictive laws in a number of states. If I had a penny for every time a marketer used the excuse "but the lawyers say it's OK" to try to send spam, my trousers would drop. Problem is, the law doesn't clearly and unambiguously require companies to obtain verifiable consent before sending e-mail to individuals."

Read the full article here.

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links for 2007-09-06

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links for 2007-09-03

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Managing Content Poses Challenges for Email Marketers

E-mail marketers need to do a much better job managing content, particularly with the proliferation of new devices and formats by which to access e-mail, according to a new report from JupiterResearch.

The report, called "The Chaos of Content," examines some of the chief challenges facing e-mail marketers in today's rapidly changing technological environment.

One of the biggest challenges for e-mail marketers is integrating e-mail content with other marketing content and systems in the organization.

For example, the survey found that 46% of e-mail marketers currently upload content manually into e-mail applications, while 24% manually create content within e-mail applications. An additional 10% send e-mail with content attachments to an e-mail service provider or agency.

"Those types of manual initiatives certainly increase cost, and it's one of the top challenges that we find when we're talking to marketers regarding why they are not doing more targeting or dynamic content. It really gets down to having enough staff to develop those multiple permutations or just to navigate the current processes," Daniels said.

Only 9% of e-mail marketers surveyed currently have complete integration between their e-mail application and a content management system, while just 7% have scheduled uploads of content through FTP drops.

The survey also asked e-mail marketers to identify their top three production challenges when building e-mail marketing mailings.

The top challenge cited was having enough staff to develop multiple mailing versions (36%), followed by proofing and approving content in mailings (30%) and excessive time needed to work with content in applications (23%).

Daniels said part of the solution lies with e-mail vendors and their ability to provide more integration with content management programs.

Source: btobonline

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What Are Good Metrics to Measure Your Email Campaign?

To determine how they measure up against industry averages and comparative metrics, marketers often ask themselves the following questions:

  • What is a good open rate for an e-mail campaign?
  • A good conversion rate?
  • A good bounce rate?

The frustrating answer: It depends. “Good” is relative. And “good” last year—or even last month—doesn’t guarantee a repeat.

Response rates depend on a litany of factors including value proposition, frequency, content, audience, age of list—the list goes on. Providing benchmarks without consideration for a campaign’s unique combination of these factors is similar to giving an arbitrary response to the question, “How tall should I be?”

And yet marketers still request benchmarks, something to compare their performance against. So, here are some tips to create useful and relevant benchmarks to drive accurate analysis of your campaigns:

1. Go beyond industry averages. ­Rely on published industry averages as general guidelines, not the end-all measure of your e-mail program’s success. When looking at industry stats, try to find those numbers calculated for your specific industry, list size and/or target audience to ensure that you are comparing apples to apples. And remember, industry averages are just that: average. Aim higher.

2. Establish custom benchmarks. Leverage your own e-mail campaign’s historical data to create tailored benchmarks for open, unique clickthrough and conversion rates. This can be done on a quarterly basis to account for the rapidly changing space. For a holistic view of your e-mail campaigns, include benchmarks for bounces, forwards, unsubscribes, spam complaint rates and even Web analytics. Because subscribers are the basis for your program, review monthly list growth as another indicator of success.

3. Create a report card. Use Excel, or a similar program, to create a simple report card. Using a line for each campaign, compare your response rates to both your customer and industry benchmarks. With a simple formula, you can create indexes to quickly identify the most and least successful e-mail campaigns. Create and review these report cards at least quarterly. It’s not enough to simply compile this data and save it on your hard drive somewhere: make sure you act on your findings.

4. Identify trends. With your report card in hand, it’s easy to identify trends in the data. Compare campaigns to identify the type(s) of e-mails consistently performing well or performing poorly. Identifying common elements within top and low performers can help drive testing, messaging and strategic decisions. Over time, you’ll be able to spot the best day and the best time to send your message, seasonal trends, and creative best practices for your audience.

5. Research outliers. Examine spikes and drops in response metrics from campaign to campaign to identify a cause. You may find a few anomalies; you also may find some key learning to apply to future campaigns. Either way, if you see a surprising number, test any theories on subsequent campaigns to confirm your findings rather than making a decision based on a potential one-time event.

So what are “good” metrics by which you can measure your e-mail campaign? The answer currently exists in your data. By creating internal benchmarks and monitoring them using a simple report card, savvy e-mail marketers can confidently answer this question in the context of their own e-mail program, and adeptly compare with industry averages. With this data in hand, it’s easy to share with co-workers, bosses, anyone asking!

Source: Target Marketing

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List Turnover Main Challenge For Email Marketers

List turnover has climbed to the top of email marketers’ list of problems, according to a new survey.

Almost four out of 10 practitioners (39%) cited list turnover as their biggest difficulty in the poll, conducted by JupiterResearch.

It asked 300 email marketers about their challenges and the assistance they seek from ESPs.

In a similar survey conducted last year, marketers cited analysis of campaign results as their main challenge. But just one in four said that was difficult in the new poll, compared to 32% in 2006.

The study also found a level of disagreement among email marketers about the best tactics to employ for list building. Twenty four percent of respondents said they planned to implement a viral marketing campaign in the next 12 months, but only one in ten said they were very successful.

Fifteen percent planned to start appending email addresses to their customer lists, but only 4% of those who had tried this tactic rated it successful.


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