Email is Not a Commodity

What does email marketing cost? A penny per email? Half a penny? And what does that really get you? If you send out a ‘blast’, you can always expect some response (and perhaps even an outstanding ROI). However, email is not a typical media buy with an easy to predict, CPM cause-and-effect. The right investment can take your email program beyond a crude blast tactic and into a meaningful, ongoing customer interaction.

When evaluating your current email marketing spend and ROI, consider the following:

  1. Are you maximizing every available lever? Optimizing an email program takes time and testing. Smart improvements in combination can lead to incredible gains in engagement and conversion rates.
  2. Are you listening and learning? Email can act as a huge, ongoing customer survey. Incorporate direct survey mechanisms, and offer a customer profile page with the option to send direct comments regarding your email program. 

Even more informative is the data gathered by user activity: look for common themes in click-through activities, on-site conversions, or subject lines that drive opens. This is how your customers tell you what they really want. Cross-reference these trends with other factors, such as frequency, mailing time of day, and day of week. These nuggets of insight will inform your future messaging and strategy, and can drive your program in new and profitable directions that you did not anticipate.
  3. Are you making your other channels stronger? A good email program will incorporate cross-analysis with other channels. Simple example: if you are seeing a strong click-through on a particular product in your emails, be sure to test bidding on related pay-per-click terms, and consider optimizing your site for those natural search terms. 

This can also be applied to offline marketing. For instance, successful call-to-action language from an email (Schedule a Meeting Today, etc) can inform which phrases you use in print materials.

In our experience, incorporating these practices can lead to conversion gains of 1,000% or more. So now, what is that worth? As your email marketing program is grown and optimized, it will transcend its commodity status and become one of the strongest weapons at your disposal.