Email Marketing Secrets

The secret to high return email marketing is that there is no secret. There is only one way to drive higher revenue and deliverability is to create compelling subscriber experiences.

And it’s important to remember that email subscriber experiences don’t happen in a vacuum. Our subscribers are also our prospects and customers and interact with us in many channels outside of email.

I spoke this week about great email marketing in a presentation titled, “Seven Email Marketing Secrets” at the newly revamped and rather fabulous Interactive Marketing Expo (produced by the Chicago Association of Direct Marketing). One thing that really stands out when you meet with direct marketers is that email and mobile marketing are embraced as important and fascinating channels, but are not the drivers of the direct marketing mix. I spend so much time talking about email marketing with email marketers, that it’s refreshing to get out of the echo chamber and talk about email with folks who do direct or interactive marketing and dig in to why email can be such an important part of a multichannel approach.

This is, of course, the strategy that every successful email marketer takes. The email channel alone is never as successful as when it is combined with a direct sales force, an ecommerce strategy, an affiliate program, postal mail, online advertising, search and even emerging channels like mobile and social media. Our prospects and customers interact with us in a multichannel environment, so it’s imperative that we communicate with them in ways that reflect how they like to do business with us.

One secret to success is making sure that every interaction with your company – with the sales team, with customer service, on a website, or in a retail store – results in the capture of an email address. Why pay over and over through search and postal mail to drive folks to you, when you can use email to build a strong relationship at a fraction of the cost? Once you have the email address, the experience you create must be meaningful, or subscribers – even those who gave permission and opted in – will quickly tune you out. Having subscribers on your file who ignore every message you send is worse than not having them at all.

Which brings up another secret. It’s imperative that we marketers suspend our blind faith in the company/merchandise broadcast calendar, and send email messages that speak to the subscribers’ interest, rather than our own. Let’s face it – subscribers (like all of us) are only interested in themselves. If your email program helps them be more beautiful, wealthy, productive, celebrated at work and/or healthy – then your email messages will get opened and drive a response. If not, no amount of frequency will make up for a lack of relevancy. This is a proven concept we call “prior value” – when marketers send messages that are valuable consistently, subscribers are more likely to open our messages in future. The inverse is also true, which is the problem with so many batch and blast email programs and why many marketers find that 25% to 65% of their file is non-responsive.

During our panel on Mobile Marketing (covered by MobileMarketer here), we talked about the importance of making sure mobile marketing testing is grounded in the overall marketing strategy. First, make sure that your customers and prospects are using their smart phones and devices when they are in market for your products. If you sell sandwiches, having an SMS program that sends coupons at lunch time makes a lot of sense – sending these same coupons via email might not work as well since we don’t run out to lunch with our laptops, but we do have our phones with us. Mobile marketing also makes sense when the buying decision is social – when we are with others (either being influenced or doing the influencing), we may rely on our mobile devices for information or access to marketing programs.

Want more secrets? You are welcome to view the deck from this week’s CADM event . And come to Digital Hollywood on May 7th where we’ll be talking about how email, search and social media intersect with customer buying habits.

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