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29 entries from July 2009

links for 2009-07-09

  • SORBS has posted an update on the SORBS site with some new information. It seems SORBS has received some significant offers and may continue to operate.
  • You’ve given the recipient a reason to open your message with your subject line. You’ve captured their attention and explained what’s in it for them with your value proposition. They’ve got their credit card in their hand while clicking on your call to action, and you want to keep selling them something that they’re already ready to buy? And you wonder why people don’t convert….
Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!

4 Steps to Knowing What Works and What Doesn’t

There is a simple way to explain the importance of a testing plan: It's the only way to make the leap from what you thought would work to what you know will work. The information that testing generates will help you understand what's best for your customers in real-life situations and gauge how they are interacting with your brand. This is the foundation every email marketer needs for success.

In this article, Tim Underwood lays out four key steps to help you get there. Here’s a summary:

1. Plan ahead
First, compile a list of questions you need to answer:

  • What elements go into a great subject line?
  • Should I use images?
  • What is the prime placement for my content?

No doubt when you brainstorm around these questions, you will come up with great ideas, and some will really push the boundaries of your strategy. However, only ask questions if you are prepared to act once you uncover the answers.

Last but not least: test one variable at a time and make absolutely certain you can isolate that variable.

2. Execution
Now develop a list of variables to test. Don't forget you will need to test everything twice to be certain of your results. A great strategy is to identify one stream of communications -- for example, your regular monthly newsletter -- and split it into two versions. Whichever comes out on top, use that as the control for your next test. Testing should be a continuous activity, and by using this method you can ensure your marketing is always evolving.

3. Reporting
You need to know which success metric is the most relevant to your test; there will always be a primary and a secondary. The primary metric is the action closest to the variable, and the secondary metric as the next action after that. This is really as much as you can hope to have influence over; any action further removed from your variable has been subject to too many other factors. You can't really attribute high conversion rates to a great subject line.

Lastly, it's essential to make sure your answers are statistically significant. Even two equally sized random splits will give slightly different response rates, so it's not enough to look at the highest value and declare it the winner. You will need to do some calculations to make this decision.

4. Take action
Testing initiatives can become very involved, so don't lose sight of the goal. Once you've got your first wave of results, make sure you share them with everyone involved and take action on them. But the job doesn't end there. Monitor your results to ensure your new best practices stay fresh and are still producing the desired results. Again, a good testing plan never ends. Your customer base never stops evolving and neither should your marketing plan.

Read the full article here.

Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!

links for 2009-07-07

Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!

What Would Chef Ramsay Say?

Morgan Stewart claims that we (email marketers) need our own dose of Chef Ramsay (you know, the Hell’s Kitchen guy).

In this article, he translates some of Chef Ramsay’s advice to restaurateurs to advice for email marketers (minus the obscenities, of course). Here’s a summary:

  1. “How much money are you losing a month?" 
    Have you spent money on bad list sources and not realized it for months? Failed to cross-sell additional products or services in confirmation emails? Failed to send a welcome message? Sent a message with bad links? These are all common problems, but they are easily avoidable mistakes. Don't make them!
  2. Trying to get too fancy just messes things up.
    Chances are you have good content and "other" content -- the content that you include to make sure everyone is happy. If it detracts from the good content, don't add it. Apple does a great job of this. The company's messages are focused on the one thing: excellent products.
  3. If you serve bad food or the service is poor, customers will not return.
    It's bad enough to deliver poorly targeted or irrelevant email to your subscribers. If the program stinks, they may unsubscribe (if you are lucky) or they will simply stop reading your messages. Most customers will ignore you at this point, but some will go to the extreme to discredit you.
  4. If customers don't like what you are serving, it's not their fault.
    Don't go looking for new customers until you fix the problem.
  5. Stop making %*@$ excuses!
    Good content and good service positions your program for success. You can't fool your subscribers for long, so don't waste time fooling yourself.

Read the full article here.

Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!

Some Interesting Retail Email Marketing Stats

  • Half of all customers who purchased in the past twelve months subscribe to e-mail campaigns.
  • E-mail buyers have a 77% annual repurchase rate, among the most loyal of any channel.
  • Only 25% of your e-mail file bothers to click on at least one e-mail campaign, per year. The remaining 75% are inactive.
  • Only 5% of your e-mail file buy something from your e-mail campaigns, on an annual basis.
  • E-mail is what I call a "transition channel". It is the channel that your customers migrate to as they begin to rely upon catalog marketing less. After the customer buys from an e-mail campaign, the customer is likely to buy from your website, without attribution to any other marketing campaign.
  • 80% of your e-mail purchasers buy merchandise on sale, or buy when free shipping is offered. As a result, your e-mail buyer file is over-populated with discount shoppers.
  • When you offer full price merchandise via e-mail, you generate $0.05 per e-mail campaign.
  • When you offer sale merchandise, or you offer free shipping, you generate $0.25 per e-mail campaign.
  • Over time, you optimized e-mail performance based on the metrics you had available to you ... open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates. As a result, your optimization best practices resulted in a program that sale/promo customers love. Your customers are no longer interested in e-mail marketing unless there is a marketing promotion.

Source: Kevin Hillstrom’s MineThatData Blog

Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!

Turning Your Email Program into a Dialogue

In this article, Wendy Roth shares some tips to liven up emails and add the element of conversation. Here’s a summary:

  • Add contact links to your emails: your email address, your customer support contact and call center contact details, your main office telephone numbers...
  • Add a feedback link to your emails where readers can express opinions either about your products, company, or anything related to your market niche.
  • Start a user forum. Link to it in your email messages, even in your transactional messages. Incentivize customers to join and clearly explain the benefits of such a community.
  • Publish reader comments or product reviews. Publish these in your email messages, or devote an entire message to reader opinions. This can work in tandem with the feedback link to ensure these comments are worked into relevant reviews.
  • Answer reader questions in the newsletter. Share knowledge on how-tos. Answer questions about your products, editorial policy, or whatever is on readers' minds. For every one person who writes in, maybe 100 or 200 are thinking the same thing.
  • Use polls and surveys. Post mini versions in your regular emails, or link to a poll or survey at your site. Swap out one of your regular mailings for a reader-dialogue issue.
  • Blog in your newsletter. Publish a blog post or comments in your newsletter and link back to your blog's site. Allow comments without moderation, except to remove messages that are libelous, in poor taste, or obvious comment spam.

However, all of this dialogue-building is useless, unless you...
Pay attention and respond! Your subscribers and customers are talking, you are now paying attention -- but what about taking some action?

No matter how many channels you use to join the conversation, you have to monitor and participate in all of them. Otherwise, there could be a perception that you are not truly engaged.

Read the full article here.

Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!

links for 2009-07-02

Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!

links for 2009-07-01

Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!