Archive for February, 2008

Email marketing aims to start a conversation between an organisation and its subscribers and often invites interaction between the subscribers and the company’s website.

As technology expands, the complexities of growing, segmenting, and managing your email lists and campaigns are becoming more sophisticated. The more you know about your current subscribers, the more likely you will be to not only add them as customers, but to also find more subscribers that meet the same criteria and potential. To do that, you must understand who your current subscribers are, what their needs are, where they came from, when they subscribed, why they continue to interact with your company, and how they will respond to your email messages.

In January 2008 JupiterResearch projected that email marketing spending will grow from $1.2 billion in 2007 to $2.1 billion in 2012. Spending on retention email will more than double during that period and account for over half of total email marketing spending in 2012. Acquisition email marketing will grow more somewhat more slowly, with most spending in that category going toward sponsorship (for example, ad-supported newsletters).

The report’s finding that while spam volumes will continue to rise, the spam reaching consumers will remain flat over the next few years as ISPs battle senders and use progressive tactics to block billons of messages daily. “This will create better opportunities for email marketing, although marketers will have to work harder to remain relevant in their communications with their intended audiences.”

Embracing targeted email tactics, marketers will increasingly rely on enhanced email application features and strategic services, benefiting full-service agencies and self-service technology providers alike. “The solid growth in spending on email marketing is a testament to the effectiveness of the channel,” said David Schatsky, President of JupiterResearch.
DMA’s Retail Email study of 2007 showed email is rapidly emerging as one of marketers’ most powerful marketing channels,” said Ramesh Lakshmi-Ratan, PhD, DMA’s executive vice president and chief operating officer. “In fact, according to DMA research, commercial email in 2007 is forecast to generate $21.9 billion in US sales. And, impressively, each dollar spent on commercial email is projected to generate more than $48 in sales.”

The study found that addressing privacy concerns is a best practice that’s seeing adoption approach the 50 percent mark. Also, it found that providing sample newsletters is a clear emerging best practice that should help reduce opt-outs, with nearly 12 percent of major online retailers doing that. The additional transparency provided by these two practices should increase subscriber satisfaction.

Here are some other findings from EEC’s Retail Email Subscription Benchmark Study:
· Only 92 percent of retailers have an email sign-up form or link on their homepage.
· 28 percent of retailers offer more than one content selection, with it ranging from two all the way up to the 50 content options offered by Amazon.com.
· Only 3 percent of major online retailers use a double opt-in subscription process.
· The subscriber’s name (31 percent) and ZIP Code (18 percent) were the two most often required pieces of information.

What was also great to see is that it’s not just the USA where email is booming. In an earlier study of email marketing by professional marketers in the UK, 92% are now including email in their marketing budgets and 51% of them are planning to increase that spend next year. The study didn’t report on the amount of the marketing budget that was being committed to email marketing. However, given the preference of consumers and their likelihood to respond, it would seem likely that we will see that quota increasing.

Sadly, the number of marketers who are really using the full power of email marketing is still too low. Only 41% of marketers were measuring open and click-through rates to analyse the effectiveness of their campaigns and 63% are still not sure about privacy laws. The ability to plan event based sequential campaigns relies on using this response information. So it seems we still have a long way to go before we are getting the most out of our email marketing.

No wonder it’s busy out here in e-Marketing land. I did my own informal survey of other eMarketing Network members and our experience supports these findings. It’s busier than ever, it’s working better than ever but there’s still so much to learn!

We’re yet to be satisfied that we are sharing the knowledge that we have in ways which really benefit the emarketing industry and to grow the total share of the marketing budget allocated to ‘E’. Our clients excepted of course, it still seems to be absolute standard practise for companies to mark the to-do-list with a tick next to ‘website’ and forget about it for another three years. Ouch. Everyday thousands more consumers are using the web to research everything they buy, and are judging that a useless website, a disintegrated brand marketing plan and poor email communications equals useless company.

No matter how many times we use words like ‘maturing’ and ‘mainstream’ and ‘multi channel’, because our smarts are as much based on technology which is changing rapidly from day to day, all of us are learning as we go and growing from our learning. Even teams like ours where all we do is online… but especially marketers for whom the web is a fraction of their budget and mindshare. It’s up to all of us to get smarter and better at this brilliant medium.

At the eMarketing Network meetings in the past, we have discussed the possibility of forum events where marketers could bring a brown-bag-lunch and sit around comparing latest initiatives, response rates, the online space and wish lists… where? when? are you in?

Many emarketers will be aware that email delivery is part art and part rocket science. It’s critical of course as if your email does not get into the inbox, then it will have a hard time delivering on your goals for it! We take it very seriously and we ensure your emails are able to be authenticated in the most widely used methods, and for the serious emarketer we offer the most advanced delivery practices available. We urge you and your IT staff to please read this weeks article by our key contact at Yahoo regarding why you need authentication, and what will happen to emails that are not authenticated.

# No one has the perfect database, but you owe it to your stakeholders to make the best of what you have. With that in mind see what you can extract to get a better picture of who is on your database, how they act, and what they want from you. Then use it, starting in the simplest of ways, to target and test what’s works best for whom. When you can make relevant offers to your recipients you can make massive increases in response rates – and revenue! Sit down with your strategic goals, work out what information you dont currently have about your customers that would help you reach those goals. Next, use surveys with incentives to ask the most important questions – then add the new information to keep building that goldmine of a database! I’m happy to sit down and help you with this – contact me if you have feedback or questions.

# Preferences are best practice: It’s not just black and white your customers want but charcoal, steel, silver and dove grey too. If you offer more than one or two types of email communications and you don’t have a preference centre that allows self-selection of which they get when; then you will soon! Preference centres are standard practice in the more enlightened online marketers strategy. So then when they ask to unsubscribe you don’t just offer all or nothing/Yes or No – but show all of your email communications, and let your client use one click to choose to subscribe to all, change their personal options, unsubscribe to all, or change frequency etc.

# It’s six months since the New Zealand UEM Act was passed – are you happy with the best practices your organisation has put in place? If you need a reminder, Click through to the NZ Marketing Association’s to find out or learn more… www.marketing.org.nz/best_practice.php

Here at Smartmail we’ve been thinking a lot about whether the current growth in online advertising is sustainable in a tighter economy.

Marketers are multi disciplined and often charged with a range of influence over the strategic and tactical activities of a business across sales, advertising, design, marketing, branding, customer service, sponsorships, events, promotions, and communications, internal and external. That’s a tall order by any measure!

With this in mind, Jericho (the company behind SmartMail) was created in 2000 with a singular focus on supporting the New Zealand marketer. Our focus is producing tools for marketers that allow them to produce attractive and useful material, measure the return on their marketing dollar, and work within the demands on their resources. It was marketers’ demand for email communication tools that led to the development of the first version of SmartMail back in 2001. Since then input from our clients has been fundamental in helping us to develop, redevelop and perfect SmartMail into the ultimate marketers toolkit it is today.

Designed to work for the user who is not a computer-whizz, but loaded with targeting, personalisation, automation and reporting tools, SmartMail provides thousands of users with the tools they need to communicate with customers and stakeholders. Clients use SmartMail to talk to people on databases from 500,000 to just a handful. New campaigns can be deployed on a frequency ranging from many times a day, to integrated one off campaigns. The best thing about SmartMail is that it puts the control back in the hands of the marketer, resulting in more relevant, personal and anticipated communications – and happy customers.

So, that’s all well and good, but do you think a recession is in the wings? And what does that mean to you? Marketers work smarter anyway. But when budgets are cut too, and resources pulled tighter, it’s often marketing who get chopped. Our friends the marketers are just so darn resourceful though, it’s possible they’ll simply get on with it and no one will notice any difference…

So what can we do to make sure marketers get the email marketing (or eDM) budget not only to grow year on year -to actually get acknowledged as a real channel with the best ROI in the arsenal? Heck – even getting it’s own line in the budget would be a start in many org’s, but we are pushing for more than that. Email works like DM on steriods when it’s treated at least as well as old-school DM – specialist design, tools, teams, and best practices.

This ‘r word’ is coming apparently, and it’s coming in at a critical point in the maturation of online marketing. Americans are spending 14 hours per week watching TV, and 14 hours a week on the internet. The DMA in the US shows latest ROI as $50 per $1 spent on email marketing.

I agree with some of my peers who fear that the recession poses both a very large opportunity and a very real risk to the hard-won gains in email marketing. Email is not as easy and cheap as we might have made it out to be in the ‘good old days’, but its certainly a lot more simple and cost effective than a print or TV campaign. It is rocket science, and experts like the SmartMail ones exist so that marketers can be sure the design, the technology and the delivery is taken care of – leaving you to plan, and count the money in the till at the end of the day!

Marketers who have done everything right and built up a permission data base of clients and stakeholders have a potential gold mine. They can work that list by using segmenatation and relevance to get results – heck they can get real, live, SALES! REVENUE! PROFIT! – the stuff the boss is going to get very excited about when for the last few years she’s been watching cheques for unmeasurable ‘branding’ campaigns flutter out the door like so many ethereal butterflies…

But you know what happens next don’t you? The boss figures out that if only the sales reps could access the database they’d keep the targets figure looking rosy for another few months…

If tighter budgets leave above the line advertisers looking around for some more bang for the buck, may their eyes alight upon eDM… may email get more of the recognition it earns for the bottom line, and long after the ‘r word’ ends, may our channel line entry on the marketing budget remain!

But we all have to hope they let their email experts advise them as to frequency, targetting and testiing… and email marketers are going to have to think really hard before they heave a whole lot more noise at this hard-won email database…

So, what are you going to pay attention to over the next few months? Plan, target, set goals, test brilliant design, and protect that database… then when the Sales Manager comes sniffing around for a last minute blast campaign you’ll be able to point out how he can fit into your plans… not vice versa!