Email: Taking Email's Measure
With the vast array of analytical information available in the email channel, the measure of success sometimes gets a little muddied—especially when there are multiple stakeholders claiming ownership of overall success. But then again, what is overall success?
For most marketers, it's revenue; in particular, increasing revenue by improving your program. For others, it may be subscriptions or other desired actions or conversions. What's important is there's an overall goal measured—not campaign by campaign, but as an overarching result over time that can be compared against the same period in the previous year or to the previous period.
This is where the direct marketer's strengths come into play. We are used to optimizing our programs, testing different approaches and scenarios and utilizing modeling and "Recency/Frequency/Monetary" (RFM) measures to maximize revenue and minimize cost. But marketers have to think differently in the email channel.
The largest expense in email is the lost opportunity cost, because the deployments themselves are so inexpensive. Therefore, correct segmentation, offer significance and product relevance are keys to success. If you can't optimize these things, you fall victim to the unrecoverable cost of lost subscribers—either through inactivity, unsubscribes or complaints. Unlike direct mail, there is no second chance to get these people back.
So, the statistics you need to be looking at, but aren't, are:
• Inbox delivery instead of just deliverability; and
• Open and click rates over time instead of just campaign-by-campaign.
The Inbox Is Job No. 1
Optimizing frequency, relevance and mailing cadence to your different segments will ultimately boost activity among your subscribers. Active subscribers signal relevance to the ISPs (such as Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, etc.) which, in turn, will continue to deliver your messages to your subscribers' inboxes.
This is critical, because we're not dealing with the U.S. Postal Service where "the mail must get through." Sales from spam folders are slim to none; sales from blocked IP addresses are non-existent.