Q: Which of the following tactics is your organization using to improve the relevance and engagement of email content delivered to subscribers?
We asked your peers how they could use this data …
Segment email campaigns based on sales cycle
Stage-based marketing is the future. Breaking your marketing down to map to a consumer’s research cycle means understanding they will do research in multiple sessions, and at each session, be looking for different content. Best practice will suggest that you will need to engage with them in two or more different sessions, so you will need two or more stages.
Content needs to be short and targeted. Having a single large document is no longer best practice. Content should be targeted to each stage of the research cycle, and be easily consumed in under five pages.
How closely integrated are your sales and marketing departments?
I would have loved to see another question asked: How closely integrated are your sales and marketing departments? From my experience, those using segmentation and trigger-based emails are those who make sure that marketing and sales are closely aligned. A lot of the triggers “look” like they come from the sales team based on Web behavior with the ultimate objective to drive conversion, of course.
- April Wilson, Director of Analytic Products, RevSpring
Q: Which marketing channels does your organization integrate with your email program? Select all that apply.
As usual, we asked your opinion of this research …
Mobile integration requires investment
A question is raised in the blog about the poor representation of mobile in email integration. That’s because the top two mediums hog up the highest share of the marketing budget, with the balance to the next three. Mobile integration requires new planning and visual strategy for which there is very little or no dollars left.
Shailesh chalks the reason up to investment, or lack thereof, in mobile. From his experience, most budget goes to the top two integrated tactics (75% of marketers integrate the website with email, 56% integrate social media with email).
According to Shailesh, the rest of the budget goes to the next three most integrated tactics with email – 40% of marketers integrate email with events (for example, tradeshows and webinars), 35% with blogs and 31% with search engine optimization and/or pay-per-click advertising.
This leaves only 21% of marketers integrating email with mobile.
To help you secure the budget and resources you need, here are a few articles to show your marketing and business leaders the benefits of mobile email integration, along with the challenges you need resources to overcome …
Email marketing is an interesting animal. It has often been compared to direct mail. However, unlike direct mail, sending irrelevant and even annoying messages can really burn your entire email marketing program.
With direct mail, if a recipient didn’t like your message, they can drop it straight in the recycling bin.
However, with email marketing, your email recipients can affect your ability to reach other potential customers by, for example, marking your email as spam. Brutal.
This is a great question, Ariel. It is the marketing equivalent of “What is the meaning of life?” on some levels.
Because, I’d say – to both questions – the answer varies.
For example, how long is your sales cycle? How frequently do you send email? Can you tell if these folks are engaging with your company in other ways? How segmented are your email sends? Do you send triggered emails?
Whatever the length, it is probably worthwhile to consider a re-engagement campaign before removing these inactive subscribers.
But, answering a question with more questions is a wholly unfulfilling answer, I readily admit. So, to give you some straightforward numbers to chew on, I did a quick dive into the MarketingSherpa Library to see how some companies define inactive subscriber.
For the most drastic campaign in this area, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra sent a re-engagement email to everyone on the list (including active subscribers), and removed all subscribers who didn’t click “yes” they wanted to continue subscribing – How Cutting a House List 95% Helped Double Sales: 5 steps.
Q: Which of the following tactics is your organization using to drive email list growth? Please select all that apply.
As always, we asked the MarketingSherpa audience for their actionable advice based on this data …
75% increase in opt-in rate using squeeze page
When the election campaigning was in full swing last summer, I noticed that Obama was using an interesting squeeze page on whitehouse.gov. I swiped the wireframe and built a similar one of my own for my marketing tools website at AffPortal and noticed an immediate difference in my opt-in rate of about 75%. There’s a lot of value in watching what the big budget guys are doing to list build and swiping the concepts.
Excellent advice, Corey. For those looking to learn more from the “big budget guys,” Toby Fallsgraff, Email Director, Obama for America, and Amelia Showalter, Director of Digital Analytics, Obama for America, will be presenting a keynote case study – Email Optimization: How A/B testing generated $500 million in donations – at Optimization Summit 2013 in Boston.
77% of marketers use website registration pages to drive email list growth
Very good breakdown of marketing options and success rate.
Web page registration is one of the most trusted, hence the high success percentage.
Offline, it’s comparable to responding to a P.O. Box versus an actual address.
How about pop-ups and slide-ins? Are these included? I’d be interested in seeing how these work for people in “quality” markets such as B2B.
I’d also like to know about email harvesting as a tactic because I think many people use it but don’t admit it. They are scared of being called spammers but in reality, if they are presenting valuable solutions, they are not [spammers]. So how about a line for email harvesting?
Personally, I think the “share with a friend tactic” is underutilized because it can be encouraged to a level that takes email capture to exponential heights. You can forward to five friends at once!
Q: What type of automated, event-triggered, lifecycle email messages does your organization deploy? Please check all that apply.
As always, we asked the MarketingSherpa audience for their actionable advice based on this data. We received two interesting tips from Richard Hill and one from Chris Hexton …
Nurture current customers
Most marketers use automated triggered emails to strengthen relationships with early-stage buyers (i.e., for ‘lead nurturing’).
However, one of the most under appreciated opportunities is to use triggered emails to strengthen relationships with current (and recently lost) customers:
Advocate social referral
Contract renewal reminder
Customer service issue management
Low product usage alert
Net promoter score segment migration
All of these “customer nurturing” programs represent great ways for modern marketers to re-balance their approach, and use trigger emails (and marketing automation tools) to more consistently support the whole buying journey.
Q: What new developments will affect your email marketing program in the next 12 months? Please select all that apply.
As always, we asked your peers what they thought of this data. Here are three takeaways from their feedback …
Takeaway #1: Use mobile marketing and social media to engage a younger demographic
“In our market, loyal customers are getting older so we are focused on mobile and social as a way to communicate with younger customers to increase their loyalty. Spot on!!” said Randy Kobat, Vice President and General Manager, Strategic Initiatives.
Takeaway #2: Consider mobile design, not just content
“Mobile is dead on with our strategy and focus. We are developing programs with mobile in mind not only through content, but design. How have you faired with responsive design in email? Have you seen engagement go up?” asked Ivan Printis, Email Product Manager, Gannett.
At MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2013, I moderated the Mobile Email Panel, in which Laura Velasquez, Marketing Program Manager, REI, shared the retailer’s experience with responsive email design.
Below you can see how the emails display differently on an iPhone thanks to responsive design.
Default on iPhone
Responsive on iPhone
The above charts show the results of A/B testing the responsive design email versus a traditional email, and you can see how Laura’s team was able to improve open rates with responsive design.
Laura also noted while mobile was slowly increasing as a percent of all opens of REI emails, the largest increase came after the change to a responsive layout.
For those looking to move to a responsive email design, Laura suggested marketers shouldn’t only focus on making mobile-friendly changes and creating a template, but they should also look at change within their organization. She advised marketers to have discussions with key stakeholders so they understand how their email messages will be affected.
I’m interested to hear how you would answer the above question as well. Feel free to use the comments section of this MarketingSherpa blog post to share your thoughts.
The question reminds me of a story from John C. Maxwell, author of The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. He tells of a young man coming up to him, and asking for the one thing the young man can do to become a better leader. Maxwell responds that there is not just one thing, there are 21 things he must do to become a better leader.
Clearly, Maxwell is good at branding. But, he also brings up a good point. We’re all busy, and we’re looking for the top takeaways or shortcuts to do our jobs better. However, true success is not so simple.
While many marketing blogs are fond of giving you the few shortcuts or secrets to success, I’m sorry to say that email marketing is hard work involving so much more than the three steps listed below.
But, at a high level, if I had to narrow email marketing down to three steps based on all we’ve learned from marketers through MarketingSherpa, it would be these …
Step #1: Start with your customers
Almost all email marketing developed by a competent marketer, really all content and marketing in general, is effective … for the right audience. The question is – are you delivering the right email to the right audience?
So, for example, a free shipping promo. That works great for the people who really love your product and are already keenly interested in buying. That might be the little incentive that drives them to make another purchase.
However, for the people that don’t know the value of the specific product you are promoting quite yet, free shipping for something they don’t value is almost meaningless and likely to get deleted.
So, that’s the real question you have to answer. If you have an unsegmented list of 100,000, and only 100 of them like your product enough to buy based on the free shipping promo, but another several thousand might unsubscribe (or worse, mark your email as spam), then that email promo, while effective for a small segment, is not right for that overall audience.
Here is where deeper complexities, like segmentation, come into play. But at a high level, my main point is you cannot evaluate your email promotions and content in a vacuum. There is rarely right or wrong email marketing. However, there is effective or ineffective email marketing for a particular audience.
This is part of what makes email marketing so challenging. Marketers have to hit their goals, so they keep sending more email – and the email seems to be working. After all, even with diminishing returns, since your email will be right for some small segment of your audience, you get some conversions and it appears to work.
But what is the long-term cost of your actions? What customers would be interested if you gave them what they wanted? How many customers are you forcing out of your funnel?
These can be maddeningly difficult questions to answer. Here are a few resources to get you started:
The day one keynote presentation at the MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2013 featured Jay Baer, President, Convince & Convert and co-author of The Now Revolution. Jay’s presentation was titled, “More Alike than Different: Why Email is Madonna, and Facebook is Lady Gaga.”
A handful of data points
Jay explained email remains an extremely relevant channel. He cited ExactTarget research from 2011 that found 58% of U.S. adults check email first thing in the morning, and research from 2012 that found 77% of people surveyed reported preferring email for promotional messages.
He also said Facebook is far and away the social media platform of choice with only 27% of U.S. social media users 12 years-old and up embracing second-tier networks such as Google+ and LinkedIn, according to research from The Social Habit.
Additionally, he added 44% of corporate social media marketers look at Facebook as a way to gain new customers based on Wildfire research from 2012. One challenge is 84% of company Facebook fans are current or former customers per DDB research.
“Email and Facebook are strategically, operationally and tactically aligned. Or they should be,” Jay said.
Email and social media are more alike than different
Jay stated social media, and Facebook in particular, is just email with “fresh paint.”
Along with this statement, he presented a slide of an image he titled, “Magaga,” juxtaposing Madonna and Lady Gaga side by side to illustrate his point.
To further make the point, Jay described three areas of integration:
Operations and measurement
Channel and audience
Message and content
In the case of measurement, email and Facebook share basic metrics even though the nomenclature is different.
Loren opened his talk by explaining three approaches to email marketing:
The mass market approach treats all customers as a single audience, what he described as a “hope-based” marketing approach.
The segmented audience approach treats customers as many audiences, a marketer informed and defined approach.
The personal marketing approach that treats customers individually and is a behavior-based marketing approach.
From this framework, he explained customer behavior drives the actions in email campaigns with the personal marketing approach.
To illustrate this approach, Loren offered a number of case study examples, including a look at a wedding invitation email series from Paper Style. In this example, Paper Style changed its approach to email marketing. Previously, it used a “batch and blast” approach with no targeting, which resulted in reduced response rates.
In implementing the behavior-based approach, Paper Style’s team analyzed website behavior from visitors, purchase patterns of its customers, mapped the wedding process to understand when typical behaviors happened and finally used this information to create a wedding timeline.
This analysis also uncovered two separate audiences – brides and friends of the bride who are helping with the wedding planning.
To segment those two audiences, Paper Style used website and/or email click behavior to drop prospects into either the “your wedding” or “friend’s wedding” email nurturing tracks.
Each track received a separate email series with content specific to each group. Brides’ email included information on invitations, bridal party gifts and thank-you notes. The bride’s friends’ track email included details on planning bachelorette parties as well as gifts for the bride and groom.
The result of analyzing its customers and developing email nurturing tracks based on behavior from its prospects led to impressive results for Paper Style: 244% boost in open rate, 161% increase in clickthrough and most importantly, revenue per mailing increased 330%.
Loren’s 10 tips for success
Along with real-world examples of behavior-based email marketing, Loren also gave the audience his 10 tips for personal marketing success:
As the lead editor on this year’s Email Awards, I found it interesting that, of the myriad submissions we received, email integration played a part in many, if not all, of our winning campaigns.
In fact, as we’ll likely learn from our upcoming Summit sessions, one of the reasons email has been such a venerable channel throughout the years is because of the creative, strategic ways marketers have evolved the tactic to include elements of social media, PPC and website integration.
So, before we head west to the glitter of Las Vegas, let’s pull a few nuggets from these campaigns, seeing what you can learn from other Email Awards 2013 winners’ use of effective integration to find pure gold.
Lesson #1: Facebook contests don’t all have to look alike
Ritos GmbH, a consumer electronics company, submitted the OSRAM Innovation Store “Light ‘n’ Style” contest for Email Awards 2013. It was the one entrant in its category that bridged the gap between creativity and results, as it successfully tied together three key factors of an efficient, integrated email campaign:
Personalized emails as a support to the contest
A fan-gating tab on Facebook
A unique contest mechanism that created a viral response
The fan-gating tab on Facebook ensured only persons who were already fans of the OSRAM Innovation Store on Facebook could enter the contest. Contact with all participants was maintained throughout the contest through highly personalized emails.
The emails were personalized through use of the recipient’s name, an image of their favorite lighting product and the product’s current place in the real-time voting. The unusual contest mechanism also made the campaign go viral.
In the end, this creativity paid off handsomely, with the campaign achieving high rates of customer interaction, significantly increased social sharing and a tremendous boost (39%) in newsletter opt-ins – a “side effect” that wasn’t even a focus of the initial campaign.
1,583 people participated in the contest, more than 10% of the existing newsletter mailing list.
1,761,614 people were reached through Facebook ads and made aware of the new products – 119 times more than the size of the newsletter mailing list.
Facebook page increased its fan base by 18%.
Additionally, 582% more people posted on the Facebook page during the campaign run, while email open rates about the contest were between 55% and 70%.