Survey Highlights Email Marketing Effectiveness and ROI

May 24, 2012

email-marketing-industry-census-2012A recent research survey, Email Marketing Industry Census 2012, conducted by eConsultancy and sponsored by Adestra sheds some light into how email marketing is being used and trends facing email marketing as an industry. The research was for UK based email marketers only, but the results are enlightening and can be transferred to any country, especially when it comes to best practices and ROI.

Why is email still a major force in the marketer’s arsenal? According to the census, “55% of all company respondents could attribute more than 10% of their total sales to the email marketing channel, with 17% of respondents stating that email marketing attributed for over 30%”. ROI for email marketing is still there, despite many talking about the demise of email as social channels become more prominent.

“70% of company respondents rating email as “excellent” or “good” in terms of ROI”

Problem is, email is not being used to its fullest. Most companies are not taking advantage of advanced email marketing features, or even basic segmentation strategies, as the survey points out.

“Only 40% of responding companies use their email service provider (ESP) for anything more than the basic broadcast of email”

When asked about which practices are part of their email marketing efforts, the answers showed that:

  • Only 67% of respondents do basic segmentation
  • 52% engage in regular list cleaning
  • 48% encourage the sharing of content in their email messages
  • 26% use content personalization
  • 25% use video content in their emails
  • 15% are using behavioral targeting.

The ROI of Email

It seems most companies have a “setup and forget” attitude when it comes to their email marketing. Once the system is configured, the templates are setup, and everything is ready to go they simply let it run without constantly refining their tactics.

“Those simply performing “batch and blast” techniques are less likely to see ROI benefits.”

According to the research, only 31% of companies surveyed regularly test their email marketing campaigns. The companies that do test their email marketing campaigns report their ROI from email is excellent or good, compared to those who don’t test regularly or don’t test at all.

But testing is only part of the ROI equation. Research results point to segmentation being another big factor for ROI reporting that “companies who are practicing basic segmentation are 95% more likely to rate email ROI as excellent or good compared to those who do not use even basic segmentation, nor have plans to do so”.

The Missing ROI Components

According to the census, the following key themes have been identified as having a big role in determining whether a company will see positive ROI from their email marketing efforts:

  • Adaptation to priority inbox features
  • Awareness around data security issues
  • Low hanging fruits of triggers and testing
  • Integrating email with other business areas
  • Greater understanding of social media and email as complementary channels
  • Addressing the challenges of mobile

The report goes into detail for each area above. It also discusses the barriers to effective use of email, citing that:

  • 53% of companies cite quality of email database as the most widespread barrier to effective email marketing
  • 49% of client-side respondents feel lack of strategy is a significant problem
  • 45% of companies say lack of segmentation is holding them back
  • 32% complain about lack of skills and training
  • 36% state poor measurement and analytics keep them from becoming more effective

For an in-depth analysis of each of those barriers and detailed analysis of the census results, download the email Marketing Industry Census 2012.


6 Ways to Spice Up Boring Email Marketing Campaigns

February 7, 2012

Spice Up Your Email CampaignNote: This is a guest post by Lior Levin. See Lior’s bio at the end of the article.

For a marketer, email is possibly the most powerful medium ever created. In addition to be instantaneous and simple, it’s a personal medium that can be tailored to every person, it’s opt-in, meaning that you’re reaching an already-engaged audience and, best of all, the cost of sending each email is effectively zero.

However, the problem with email marketing is that it’s very much like a relationship, difficult to keep the excitement and enthusiasm up for a long period of time. This is true for both the marketer and the recipient.

So how can you help keep that spark alive when sending email after email? A lot of it comes down to simple creativity. However, there are several things you can do to revitalize a dull campaign and re-engage both yourself and your audience with your email marketing.

Here are just a few that you can consider:

1. Take a Survey

If an email campaign is a relationship, then every great relationship starts with communication. You need to take a moment and listen to your subscribers.

Take time out from your regular email campaign to have your readers fill out a short survey and learn what they want out of your emails. You might learn that there are whole directions you haven’t explored or that there are topics of interest you haven’t talked about yet.

Aside from that, getting your readers engaged and making them feel as they have a voice in the newsletter makes them more likely to stay and more likely to pay attention to what you send out.

2. Hold a Contest

People love contests and they get excited about the prospect of winning something. Whether it’s a contest for a large prize, a coupon to a certain percentage of subscribers or something else altogether, contests are a great way to generate buzz and interest in your email campaign.

Contests work especially well if you couple them with promotion elsewhere, offline and on, and can be even more effective if you reward your readers for attracting new subscribers.

But even if you can’t do anything grandiose, a simple contest is a great way to renew subscriber interest and improve your metrics. Just be careful to follow all relevant laws.

3. Reward Your Subscribers

Sometimes reviving a dull relationship is as simple as saying “Thank you”.

Offer a special deal to your readers just for being on your list. Give them something that makes them feel important and like they are your most valuable customers just because they are on the list.

This reward doesn’t have to be something large, just something unique that is only available to subscribers. Whether it’s a small percentage off, early access to new merchandise or a free download, anything that makes your subscribers feel as if you’re catering to just them will help keep their interest and their loyalty.

4. Segment Your Audience

Ideally, the more information you have about your audience the better. In addition to their name, email and other contact info, you ideally should know at least some about their interests, especially if you’re in a business that has a variety of products catering to many different types of customers.

However, even if you don’t have that information, you can still target your subscribers by publishing themed emails aimed at one or two specific segments. The idea is to talk directly to a part of your audience and engage them deeply. Though your other subscribers will likely ignore the email, you will come back and reach out to them another day.

All in all, segmenting your audience and reaching out to them is a great way to make your emails more relevant, interesting and useful.

5. Revamp Your Template

Revamping your site’s template is a long, difficult process that involves changing out multiple parts and, possibly, confusing a much larger audience. With your mailing list, you can make changes a great deal easier and, with the smaller audience and lack of search engine visibility, the risks are less.

So, if your campaign seems stale, it may be time to revamp your email template. Not only is this a chance to add new visual appeal, but you can also add new features such as a fast fact, a relevant quote or a promotion.

In short, if you’ve been using your old email template for a while and would like the chance to bring in some new content, a new template might be just what you need.

6. Test, Test and Re-Test

Of course, if you’re going to do any of the above changes, you want to test them as thoroughly as possible.

Most email service providers offer an easy way to split A/B testing where you send out slightly different emails to various groups and see which are the most effective. This allows you test one variable at a time, such as a new subject line or a tweak in the template.

However, even if you can’t do A/B testing, you can achieve the same result by changing the emails you send out between mailings. Basically, by making small changes every mailing and closely tracking results, you can hone in on things that improve your response.

In the end, the only thing that is required to keep the interest and spark in your email campaigns is a willingness to try new things and to engage with your audience. If you can do those two things, there likely won’t be a single boring week for your newsletter.

It does mean, however, that you have to be vigilant with your campaign and, even if things seem to be going well, you have to be willing to take a risk.

With email, if your campaign isn’t moving forward, it’s stagnating and a stagnating campaign is a dying one.

About the Author:

This guest post is written by Lior Levin, a marketing consultant for a company that offers a to do list application for businesses and individuals, and who also consults for a company that convert psd to html format.


Inbound Marketing Analytics 101

December 14, 2011

HubSpot does it again, taking content that is not necessarily new or revolutionary and putting it in a nicely formatted eBook that makes reading it a pleasure.

With “An Introduction to Inbound Marketing Analytics“, you get an overview of what to measure and why. Especially useful for small companies and those who are just starting out with their marketing programs and need some help identifying key metrics, the eBook is packed with good advice.

HubSpot Inbound Marketing Analytics eBook

Inbound Marketing Analytics Overview

In the eBook you will see metrics for the following marketing tactics:

  • Social Media
  • Email Marketing
  • Lead Nurturing & Marketing Automation
  • Your Website & Landing Pages
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Paid Search
  • Business Blogging

The benefits of analyzing your marketing performance according to HubSpot are:

1. Identify what’s working.
2. Identify what’s not working.
3. Identify ways to improve.
4. Implement more of the tactics that work to improve marketing performance

Agreed!

Get your free copy of the “An Introduction to Inbound Marketing Analytics” eBook.

Introduction to Marketing Analytics eBook


A Tough Road for Marketing Automation

June 20, 2011

Marketing Automation is a hot topic. News about multi-million dollar investments in the space has sparked not only interest from marketers but a multitude of competitors crowding an already jammed market. Is like driving down the highway only to see the traffic stopping right after you take the next curve. As the traffic is slowly moves, some cars faster than others, many drivers start wondering if they should take the next exit.

What’s Ahead for Marketing Automation Vendors

Continue reading my thoughts on what’s ahead for marketing automation vendors on a recently published article at the Marketing Automation Times website.


Email Adoption High But Lacking Best Practices

June 14, 2011

Email Marketing MailboxA Forrester Research “How US Maketers Use Email” Report sheds some light into the use of email by B2B and B2C companies. Author Sarah Glass states:

Email is the most mature and most widely used interactive marketing tool

According to the report, adoption of email marketing is high, with 88% of  B2C companies already using email and 10% planning to use before December 2011. In the B2B space, adoption at 71% is also very high but different from their B2C counterparts, 16% of B2B companies don’t plan on using it within the next 12 months.

Best Practices in Email Marketing

Maybe a surprising finding from the research is that despite high adoption, marketers at B2C and B2B companies still don’t use best email marketing practices such as cleaning the database, letting users select what products and services they want information about, and running welcome routines for newly registered users.

Despite email’s prevalent use, interactive marketers still don’t do all they can to get the full value out of their email efforts – Sarah Glass, Forrester Research

Marketing Budgets and Email Effectiveness

The report says email budgets will stay flat in 2011, but 43% of email marketers expect email effectiveness to increase over the next three years. Other channels are also expected to gain in terms of effectiveness, such as:

  • Social Media (blogs, podcasts, widgets, discussion forums)
  • Mobile (ads, applications, MMS, SMS)
  • Online Video

Getting More Out of Email

The report concludes with some advice for email marketers to get more out of their programs, suggesting them to:

  1. Invest in Analytics
  2. Clean Email Data
  3. Prioritize Relevance Over Rich Media
  4. Detect Devices Used to Access Email
  5. Embed Social Media Into Email Content

Download the Report

The Forrester Research Report can be downloaded for free thanks to Neolane.


Selecting the Right Email Marketing Provider

April 6, 2011

You either have or will have to evaluate and select an email marketing software provider at some point in your marketing career. And there’s a good reason most people dread this project, after all with so many ESP (email service providers) out there, is really a daunting task.

That’s why I wrote a comprehensive guide to help you in your email selection process. Published in a 3-part series by Email Vendor Selection website, it shows a proven approach to quantitatively help you narrow down your choices and select the solution that will be the best fit for your organization.

Check out part 1 of the “Taking control of the email vendor selection process” article and let me know what you think!


The Science of Email Marketing

February 10, 2011

I just attended “The Science of Email Marketing” online webinar, hosted by HubSpot and presented by social media scientist Dan Zarrella.

Slides should be available for download soon here.

Key takeaways:

  1. Businesses are consumers (the boundaries between B2C and B2B are blurred when it comes to reading email)
  2. Try sending emails on weekends
  3. Send very early in the morning
  4. Optimize for mobile
  5. Use lots of links
  6. Include reference information in your emails
  7. Serialize and label your emails
  8. Give your subscribers special access
  9. Send email from someone they’ve heard of
  10. Don’t be afraid to send too much email
  11. Your newest subscribers are your best
  12. Make them want to get your emails
  13. Ask people to follow you

The presentation was based on data collected via focus groups and from MailChimp’s email database of over 9.5 billion emails sent.

I like Dan’s presentation for its brevity and focus on key action items based on solid data. What I wish he had shared is how the data from focus groups and MailChimp is broken down. How many B2B vs. B2C companies, industries, and even job titles. It’s easy to say that B2B and B2C email patterns are similar, but without seeing the data underlying that assumption I’m very skeptic. Also, MailChimp is now known to be used by large corporations (they focus on SMB market) therefore the data may not take into account larger organizations.

As with all analysis and reports out there, you have to take all of the recommendations with a grain of salt. Test them, see if they work, then be the judge. No one knows your industry and customers better than you.


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