11 Best Practices for Fine-tuning Your E-marketing Program
Why 11 best practices? Well, I had to pick a number and 300 sounded like too much work. In truth, because my firm has been intensively involved in e-marketing since the earliest days of the Web, it probably has accumulated at least 300 best practices, but many of them have become obsolete—e-marketing changes quickly.
Today’s universally accepted, carved-in-stone rule is tomorrow’s dangerously outmoded chestnut. In fact, this list probably will be useless a year from now. So read fast.
1. Measure the right stuff. Unsubscribe rate, for example, is a meaningless metric—people first have to open your e-mail to unsubscribe. If your e-mail is bait for spam filters, or people are so sick of hearing from your company that your e-mail is automatically deleted, then your unsubscribe rate will be very low. Open rate really is just a measure of deliverability and subject line effectiveness. Readership rate is nice for fine-tuning.
What you really want to measure is an action that tracks to sales. The number of people who buy something certainly is a good measurement, but long sales cycles work against that. One of the most valuable measures we’ve found is “maturation rate,” which is the percentage of prospects who moved down the sales funnel toward purchase. You can measure it by asking questions, or you can infer it. If someone responds and says she is six months from making a purchase, that she is the decision-maker and that she is interested in your product, then the fact she is still reading articles and case studies three months later is a strong indication that she has matured as a prospect and warrants attention from the sales force soon.
2. Spam filters rule. And most don’t bounce e-mails, so you don’t know if you’ve been filtered. All you’ll see is that your open rates and readership rates plummet. About seven years ago, Babcock & Jenkins invented the profile-driven “e-newsletter”—lovely, content-rich, HTML monsters organized according to recipients’ needs, interests and preferences. Now these communications get all wadded up in spam filters. Our improved “newsletters” are now portals that reside on a microsite, and the message that gets you to go there is a short, highly relevant, profile-driven text e-mail that looks and feels as if it came from a person. The hot link includes the recipient’s PIN, so when he clicks on it we can drop him right into a completely relevant, personalized experience.