E-commerce Link: Room for Improvement
This month, I'm going to share some of my all-time favorite tips and resources for effective email marketing. I hope they will help make your campaigns more successful.
1. Enhance the Data on Your List
Marketers know applying segmentation techniques to email messaging makes programs more relevant. Best-in-class marketers use targeting and see a much stronger ROI. Collecting data that you can use starts with registration forms and preference centers, and continues with monitoring clickthrough behavior.
A recent Experian study on acquisition and engagement tactics reported 24 percent of marketers only collect email addresses. The most requested data: first name (75 percent), last name (73 percent) and ZIP code (57 percent). Other elements, such as birth date, gender and mailing address were significantly less used. Unfortunately, that doesn't give marketers a lot to work with!
One resource to use to overcome this lack of data is offered by Connection Engine. The InsightConnect tool provides real-time customer insights on any email file. Simply upload email addresses into your account; the company uses secure encrypted hash codes to match your data to more than 50 billion data points and instantly builds a detailed analysis that includes demographics (age, income and household composition), geographics (including what types of properties they live in), purchase behavior (across 50 different product categories), lifestyle indicators and interests and behaviors. You can also compare segments of your list, such as recently active or recent purchasers.
Best of all, you can test this service free with a limited number of email addresses. If you want to append certain data to your list, then you pay for the data elements.
2. Compare and Contrast
It's helpful to keep an eye on opens, clicks and engagement (clicks-to-opens) for your industry vertical. Benchmarks are not necessarily the quintessential way to analyze your campaigns, but they do serve as a guide to how you are doing with your email program.
One consistent resource to use is Epsilon. Every quarter, the firm releases a report on North American email metrics across 13 vertical markets based on its clients' results in these sectors. You'll see bounce rates, opens, clicks and clicks-to-opens. Epsilon also has recently started reporting on results for triggered messages and compares results with "regular" campaigns.
Knotice provides another useful resource. Twice a year, the company reports on where emails are being opened (desktop, mobile and tablets). In addition to overall results, Knotice also breaks down results for 12 industry sectors with opens, clicks and clicks to opens.
However, if you look at its reports, you'll see one disturbing finding: Engagement (unique clicks divided by unique opens) is significantly stronger for emails opened on a desktop. These results are probably a combination of emails that don't render properly on mobile and that readers are on-the-go and just quickly dealing with email messages.
Knotice's report for the first half of 2012 included another interesting insight: Many marketers have thought interested readers might open an email on mobile or a tablet, but these recipients would later go back to their laptops or desktop computers to take action. That is a myth! At least for the retail marketplace, less than 2.5 percent of emails were opened on multiple devices.
3. Make It Mobile-Friendly or Forget About It
Without belaboring the point, a lot of emails are now opened on a mobile device. One of the first things you should check prior to launching any campaign is how it will render on various devices. Many email service providers (ESPs) offer this service, but some do not.
If you don't have this ability, there's a low cost solution offered by Litmus. You'll see how your email looks in more than 30 different environments, including eight mobile platforms. The cost is less than $50 a month for a single user, and you can test one email on Litmus' site for free.
Do you want to track mobile email opens and site visits? If your site uses Google Analytics, here are two resources to help you know what's happening:
• 8020 Marketing, a U.K-based online marketing company produced a short video on how to set up Google Analytics to track visits from mobile users.
• Matt Clarke's article "Email Open Rate Tracking in Google Analytics" on TechPad walks the reader through the process, sharing a number of screenshots.
4. Time Your Emails to Be Cool
I saved the best for last, at least in terms of innovation! There are services that allow you to recognize when someone opened an email and vary parts of your message based on when the open occurred.
Let's say you operate a restaurant and send an early morning email. Here's what your recipients might see, depending on when they open your email:
- 9 a.m.: 40% off coupon for your lunch today
- 12:30 p.m.: 20% off coupon for dinner between 4 and 6 p.m.
- 4 p.m.: Late night specials after 9 p.m.
There are a handful of companies who offer this service. I suggest you check out the MoveableInk website to view examples of the work it has done for clients. The client examples go beyond looking at time opened, and I think you'll also appreciate how MoveableInk pulls dynamic feeds from Facebook and Twitter into emails.
We've covered a few topics, but I hope they will challenge you to think in new directions about your email program.