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March 2008

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You Can't Beat the ROI of Email
By Deb Daufeldt

(As printed in the February 2008 issue of the Rocky Mountain Direct Marketing Association “Direct Line.”

All of the professional online marketers I know would undoubtedly agree that revenue is the most important email metric. A recent Direct Marketing Association study found email marketing has an incredible ROI (Return on Investment) of $57.25 for every dollar spent, over 150 percent greater than the ROI of non-email online marketing. Email remains one of the best online marketing tools of all time.

Unfortunately, due to the proliferation of spam (or unwanted email), time-starved consumers are constantly looking for ways to empty their inboxes. Email marketers must break through this clutter and maximize every email they send or risk being ignored, deleted, or unsubscribed from. Consumers concerned about spam and phishing (the act of sending an email to a user falsely claiming to be an established legitimate enterprise in an attempt to scam the user into surrendering personal information such as passwords and card numbers through a bogus website) are more likely to legitimate, opt-in email as spam. To combat this, marketers must improve the effectiveness of their current mailings rather than simply increasing their frequency in the hopes of getting noticed.

Making Your List as Profitable As It Can Be
A couple of the best strategies to ensure ongoing email list effectiveness are segmenting your lists and then continually testing different aspects of your marketing campaigns. Segmenting your house list (one you've grown yourself through individual opt-ins) helps communications be more targeted. Divide your list members by age, length of time on the list, online interaction frequency, lit member interests, and purchase history.

Be sure to develop promotions that take advantage of the types of emails to which customers pay the most attention. Though most marketers send email based on their company's promotional schedule, few enhance automatically triggered email messages, such as:

Registration/Opt-in confirmations and welcome messages.
These are horribly underutilized as they prove to yield up to a 90 percent open rate. Also, use your opt-in confirmation email and your Website's post-registration screen messages as a way to cross-sell and up-sell your customers on your other products and services offerings. Consider extending the welcome message into a series to take advantage of strong customer interest during this early subscription phase.

Auto-generated emails.
From a customer's perspective, communications initiated by a customer action or event are often expected and opened since they're focused on the customer's priorities (not yours). Leverage the opportunity to extend your marketing opportunities through Birthday and/or anniversary emails. Appeal to your customers by sending a birthday or anniversary greeting with a special offer. Retailers have done this for years, and it's still a very effective promotion (depending upon the offer, of course.)

Forward-to-a friend referrals.
Use this opportunity to market to both the sender and the recipient and be sure to reward them both!

Abandoned shopping cart follow-ups.
Remind shoppers a few days after they've left products in their shopping cart. This technique has proven time and time again to convert browsers into purchasers.

Post-purchase emails.
Take advantage of purchase confirmations, package tracking, and post-purchase thank-you emails to extend the relationship with your customer. Add relevant promotions to your electronic receipt.

Customer Service
Utilize both auto-responders as well as actual customer service responses to engage customers. Remember to thank them for taking the time to communicate with you.

Wish list
Since customer use wish lists to track products they want, periodically send customers updates to get them to purchase. Another great technique - provide an easy mechanism for customers to share their wish list with others.

Unsubscribe mechanisms.
Take a good look at your unsubscribe process. These folks are doing you a favor by actively unsubscribing rather than letting your email go to a junk folder or, worse, reporting you as spam. Test the following methods to improve your marketing:
  • Ask for user feedback to gather insights about your readers.
  • Use your unsubscribe page to let users change the frequency with which they receive your mailings as well as your content. They may still be interested in hearing from you, but not as often or containing content that is more inline with their personal interests.
  • Confirm all unsubscribers and be sure to thank your readers for taking the time to do so. Include a special offer to give them one last chance to stay on your list and do more business with you.
  • Offer other communications alternatives, such as RSS feeds and offline media (e.g., catalogs), if you have traditional direct marketing capabilities as well.
Any or all of these approaches to email marketing can prove very effective. The trick is to find the combination of frequency, timing, and content that works best for you and your customers.

Monitoring Email Effectiveness
To maximize the return on your email marketing investment, you must measure the key metrics and track them over time. If you find results don't meet your expectations, further analysis may be warranted. Among most important factors:
  • Cost per email. Campaign costs in terms of creative and deployment are relatively easy to assess. The opportunity cost of exhausting your list (mailing too frequently) may be more difficult to measure. Giving your readers the ability to control how frequently they hear from you will go a long way to developing their trust.
  • Size of your house list. Since the challenge is to grow a healthy email list, track you new opt-ins and segment them by acquisition source.
  • Email address churn. Monitor the percentage of readers who leave your list, a well as hard bounces (those resulting from sending to an incorrect or non-existent email address). This can be another important indicator of your list's health. Note the distribution of unsubscribers' ages to determine ways to reengage this group.
  • Revenue per email. The metric is key to all companies that work forward maximizing online sales.
Though email remains a major strategy for engaging consumers, the challenge is building consumer confidence in your communications to ensure your messages are being opened and read. To maximize your email marketing ROI, consider how you can use every mailing most effectively to deliver real value to your readers with every click of the SEND button.

Deb Daufeldt is Founder & President of Second Story Solutions, LLC> Second Story Solutions provides email strategy, design, development, copywriting and integration services as well a website usability and search engine optimization.

A reprint from the Colorado BMA Marketing Mirror e-Newsletter, January 2008, and contributed by BMA member Sue Kunimune..
How to Promote Yourself Effectively to Find Your Next Marketing Job
By Sue Kunimune, President, Kunimune & Assoc.

Self-promotion is the key to getting noticed by hiring managers. As a marketing professional, you're better equipped for this than other job-seekers.

After all, you're disciplined to learn the essence of your company's business and the market's needs and opportunities. Guided by this knowledge, you're a passionate, effective communicator to prospects in the market. You use a variety of channels to promote the company's unique vision and the differentiating benefits of its products.

Here are some important steps for effective self-promotion, using the lessons of marketing:
  • Know yourself. First of all, get honest about what you want to do with your life. Discover your passion and what you bring to the table. Try for a free career assessment.
  • Find out how others see you. Do others really understand what you do and what you want? Conduct a little research. Go to five people you know and ask them to describe you. Be open to what you learn.
  • Express yourself succinctly. If your friends are fuzzy about what you do or want, you need to hone your “elevator speech.” Summarize what you're about in a few clear sentences that people can remember.
  • Focus your resume on achievements. Relate your experience and skills in terms of problems you've solved for other companies.
  • Differentiate yourself. Match your achievements and skill sets to the hiring manager's requirements. This works especially well when you bullet-point them in the cover letter.
  • Research your prospects. Hiring managers admire the candidate who has researched the company and the job.
  • Be visible in all channels. Google your name and see what comes up. Network with executive directors, membership chairs and other leaders at professional associations and industry events. Ask for an introduction. Then speak, present or write. Build your webpage and tweak your key words so search engines pick you up. Join social networking sites like LinkedIn, MySpace and Facebook. Put your resume on Marketing Ladders - it doesn't cost much and recruiters go there.
  • Be organized and consistent. Schedule time weekly to work on your visibility, your active contacts database or your promotional materials. A career coach can help you focus and stay motivated.
In today's global economy, there's lots of opportunity to get noticed by hiring managers. Start today by tapping your marketing expertise to effectively promote yourself in person, in writing and online.

Sue Kunimune is a BMA member and President of Littleton-based Kunimune & Associates Executive Search. Her company provides placement services for emerging companies seeking to fill professional to mid-management positions in direct marketing, Hispanic marketing and integrated marketing communications, including product/marketing, database marketing, account management and e-marketing.

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