The e-mail marketing driver of the ROI
Data proves it: e-mail marketing does not know crisis, actually, in this context it is distinguished as an essential tool. According to the Shop.org 2009 survey on e-commerce, 88% of companies of the sector consider email marketing a “great priority this year”. In April, the European Interactive Advertising Association confirmed it, revealing that, in 2009, 46% of marketing executives counted on investing more in email marketing.
Such huge interest in the means of communication can certainly be linked to the results that e-mail allows to achieve: l’80.4% of communication executives interviewed by Datran Media declares that this year the e-mail channel is bringing on good results to companies. In the Shop.org survey, e-mail marketing stands out as the most discussed tactic for its effectiveness.
The Direct Marketing Association underlines the most meaningful fact, which is a prediction: in 2009, the average e-mail marketing ROI will be .52 spent per day !
How to best exploit email marketing from a ROI perspective?
To maximize your ROI means to work on all the stages of the e-mail marketing program, from the data gathering through all the steps users take in time.
1/ Data gathering: attract attention and require minimal information
The area dedicated to the gathering of users, clients and prospects, must be well-viewable and accessible so that all those who visit our site are encouraged to enter in contact with the brand. Once users show interest in the brand they shouldn’t be discouraged by the many information-required fields to fill out: don’t ask for too much! Initially, very few fields are necessary, even only the user’s e-mail address, and data treatment authorization. The database can be profiled on a following occasion, once the relation with the single user is consolidated.
2/ Database management: privilege the quality, not the quantity
Once the contact data of the site is gathered, work can be carried out on the quality of the relationship with one’s own users. For example, if users can easily subscribe, they should also be able to easily unsubscribe: this not only avoids annoying and dangerous spam signaling, but it shows transparency and respect for users. A good rule is to position the unsubscribe link, to make it easily viewable in all messages.
Moreover, in addition to the regular monitoring of the blacklist, it is advisable to check up on those users who do not unsubscribe, and also do not open nor click on messages. These “inactive” users should receive ad hoc messages to determine potential interest, or evaluate the possibility of freezing them or leaving them in the database eventually sending them messages less frequently, ect..
3/ Deliverability: make sure the messages get to the users
Both of the brand, that takes care of its database and the prepackaging of the messages, and the company that supplies the technology for the delivery are responsible for the deliverability, that is, the actual delivery of the e-mail to the inboxes.
The ESP must guarantee technical solutions (ex. Reputation and monitoring of the IP addresses, adaption to the demands of the ISPs, configuration, management of the feedback loop) and it will also have to support its clients in the database management (addresses gathered according to law, clean up) and messages (html clean code, pre-testing to evaluate the spam scores etc.)
4/ The message: attract, resolve, value
Once the message is received by a user who has expressed interest, the message must be opened, read and clicked on. And all this in only 7 seconds! On average, actually, a user decides in 3 seconds whether to open an e-mail or not, and usually dedicates about 4 seconds to reading the same message.
To convince the user, a message should:
* Attract attention and trigger interest: giving particular care to the addresser and subject, which determine the email open rate
* Resolve a problem, ex : “Looking for a holiday getaway idea? Here is our Christmas selection”
* Value the offer, describing it in a few words and emphasizing its strong point
* Encourage conversion with a clear and identifiable call-to-action that points to the conversion page of the site
5/ Relevance: the right message, at the right time, to the right person
The power of persuasion of the message will depend on its relevance to each contact: the more an offer is relevant, appropriate for the interlocutor, the more effective it will be, the more it will trigger a purchase or another type of conversion.
To proposition a relevant offer we have to take a closer look at our contacts and segment, adding further information to the initial gathered data, in particular behavioral details: how often does a specific user open up, click on, buy? What ? how? A method inherited by direct traditional marketing is the RFM segmentation, which takes into consideration the variables “Recency”, “Frequency” and “Monetary value” to build segments of users based on combination of such data.
Every stage of the user goes through represents an opportunity of communication(advertising), for example:
* When subscribing: a single welcome e-mail or a full welcome series that invites the user to discover the email program, the typology of the offer and other useful information
* When leaving online shopping cart: a non invasive message to make contact once users turn to the conversion pages of the site but have not purchased anything yet
* After purchase: up-selling and cross-selling message of annexed products and invitations to customer satisfaction surveys
Without forgetting, to regularly communicate, creating an appointment with users, through: a newsletter with offers for specific periods of time, general for all users, or conditional; with dynamic modules in function of defined criteria messages based on a post-click program, with offers focused on the interests expressed by the single users through their clicks on previous mail.
Although the goal is to maximize the ROI, keeping the interest means sending out not only commercial e-mails but also useful information that position the brand as reference point in the sector of interest and create loyalty: advice on the use of the product, updates on the merchandise category, events, etc.
In conclusion, the first step towards the maximization of the ROI is to best exploit the e-mail channel, optimizing all the stages of the e-mail marketing campaign, from the data gathering, to the messages, to each step the user takes in relation to the brand.
In particular, the challenge is to be able to obtain and preserve the availability and interest of users in time, implementing a continuous process of dialogue focused on the users and not only on the brand.
The password required to face the challenge is relevance: to know ones users and consequently build messages. The “Batch & blast” e-mail marketing of the early days is over: approaching the user will evermore be a one-to-one communication/advertising, from the brand to the single user.
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