Optimize E-mail Marketing in a Shifting Environment
In his keynote speech Nov. 13 during All About eMail's Virtual Conference & Expo presented by eM+C, David Daniels, vice president and research director at online market research firm JupiterResearch, noted that e-mail is still the No. 1 reason why people go online. Yet it may be at risk of losing its stronghold as the preferred channel for marketers and consumers alike.
In fact, according to JupiterResearch, all of the following e-mail consumer activities are down year over year:
* purchased products online;
* added sender to an address book;
* opted into a promotional e-mail; and
* forwarded a promotional e-mail.
This is the first part of our two-part coverage of this event. In part 2, we'll look at how Daniels' four tenets of customer loyalty relate to e-mail marketing, as well as provide takeaway tips to help make your e-mail campaigns resonate with consumers in this multimedia world.
Relevancy is key
E-mail's downturn can be attributed to a number of factors, chief among them a lack of relevant messages, Daniels said. With consumers exposed to thousands of branding images a day, it's easy for your e-mail message to get lost in the clutter.
Consider the contents of the average consumer's inbox: messages from family and friends (34 percent); spam (29 percent); opt-in messages (25 percent); messages from school/work (8 percent); and other messages, for example transactional e-mails (5 percent). On average, consumers receive 274 e-mails per week to their primary personal inboxes and another 304 per week at work. For many, it's simply an impossible task to keep up with it all.
Therefore, the notion of relevance takes on even greater importance.
"People will leave your list if they begin to feel that the thing they signed up for initially is no longer of interest to them," Daniels said. Track where your customers/prospects are in their personal life cycles to target relevant messages at appropriate times, he advised. And use customer segmentation to create relevant messages based on data such as demographics, geographics, clickthrough rates, open rates, online customer spending, acquisition source, customer profitability, multichannel customer spending, customer service contacts, among a host of other data points.
Another roadblock e-mail marketers have encountered is the issue of frequency: Are consumers receiving too much mail from the same sender? Add that to skepticism that exists among consumers that signing up for permission-based e-mail offers leads to more unsolicited spam e-mail, and you can see why consumer engagement with e-mail is down. Track customer behavior, identifying e-mail influencers who are most engaged with your brand, to use as a baseline for the frequency of your messages. Contact your best customers the most often, as they're the most engaged with your brand, and scale that number down as customer engagement levels lessen.
Then there's the emergence of social networks, which can be seen as a positive or negative development depending on the e-mail marketer. While a portion of consumers — generally younger buyers — have shifted their preferences to social communications (such as MySpace, Facebook, etc.) over e-mail as a means of communication, there's an opportunity to use these tools to your advantage, said Daniels. Embrace the social networks, and allow your messages to be forwarded on these sites.
Register to view the presentation here.