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July 22, 2009

Lackluster e-mail marketing results? Don’t cry; Help is here.

In this post: Jaimy outlines five key areas to examine if your e-mail marketing campaign is producing less-than-stellar results …
Jaimy SyzmanskiAlthough social media is all-the-buzz these days, e-mail still proves to be an important piece of the digital marketing puzzle. It can be used to directly influence customers, drive Website traffic, promote products and services and direct customers to other online endeavors (yes, including social profiles!).
But, what’s an organization to do when it implements an e-mail marketing campaign and the results are – well – less-than-desired? Rather than play the blame game or drown your sorrows with a pitcher of mojitos, take a proactive approach to finding out why the e-newsletters aren’t producing results, and then do something about it.
In this post, I’ve outlined five key areas to examine if you’re in pursuit of more impressive results. Many of these tips assume that you’re using an e-mail tracking program though, so if you are not, I’d recommend checking out iContact, MailerMailer and Bronto for starters.
Let’s dive right in –
  1. Evaluate your e-mail list. Is the same e-newsletter currently going out to your entire e-mail list? If so, you may want to consider segmenting your list, based on customer preferences, purchase habits or demographics (to name a few possible modifiers). This will ensure your content is more relevant to its recipients and have a greater chance of converting deliveries into opens, click-throughs, site visits or online purchases. If you’re already segmenting your list, it may be time to re-evaluate your segmenting based on fresh customer data or new content generated.
  2. Assess how you’re building your list. One reason your e-mail marketing may be under-performing could be due to irrelevancy, especially if your e-mail list was purchased from a third-party vendor. The best way to obtain an e-mail list is to build it organically, sprouting from your own customers. Achieve this by including an e-mail sign-up option on your Website’s home page, a ‘forward to a friend’ link in the e-newsletter itself, an e-mail sign-up kiosk within your physical organization (near the check-out or in the lobby can be a prime traffic spot) and an e-mail capture application on any social Websites you have a presence on.
  3. Delve into content, open, click-through trends. This is where your e-mail tracking software comes into play. Most programs allow you to look into not only open and click-through rates per message sent, but also specific links that were clicked, how often, and by which e-mail addresses. Pull out your most successful e-mails and determine what stood out about them – What product/service links were most clicked on? What images were clicked on most? Does the subject line include a stronger call-to-open? Are there more calls-to-action within (i.e. Visit our site now to redeem your coupon!)? Duplicate the best tactics in future e-newsletters.
  4. Look at scheduling and frequency. Timing can be everything when it comes to the success of an e-newsletter. I read a study by eMarketer not too long ago that found Mondays and Tuesdays to be prime dates to send out e-newsletters, as they proved to correlate with high open and click-through rates. Although this is a good foundation to start with, it’s all about your customers and your business schedule. Are there certain times of year that you’re busier? Have you considered sending out e-mails to customers based on upcoming events and promotions? Begin with these questions, then go a step further and ask your customers what they prefer. Perhaps they prefer weekend afternoons, and you never knew it. Also look at past e-newsletter data, assessing dates and times of delivery and how it trends with results.
  5. Focus on landing pages. If you’re consistently linking portions of your e-newsletter back to your Website’s home page or a generic category, it may be time to re-evaluate your strategy. Pointing a user to a general information page can be a huge mistake, as it forces additional clicking to get to an actual online sale. Get more specific, driving traffic directly to a product or service that can be purchased, or a page that incites a call to action (i.e. Contact Us). Also consider creating a personalized landing page on your Website for e-mail contacts only – one that is tailored to specific purchase habits of a list segment.

If your e-mail campaign isn’t producing positive results and trending toward achieving predetermined goals, it’s time to quit your job. Kidding. It’s simply time to re-evaluate its strategy and implementation. Otherwise, you’re just wasting time and money – two things that no organization can afford to lose, especially in the current economic climate.