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Getting Real About Results

  |  February 1, 2010   |  Comments

An interview with Alchemy Worx CEO Dela Quist looks at the three questions people should stop asking when it comes to e-mail marketing.

In my last column, I asked one question: what if people don't know what to do when they get your e-mail? We have all made this mistake. Being close to our products and services, we send out e-mails that assume our readers know where our Web site buttons are, how to make a feature appear, or understand the core benefits we offer.

Newsflash: they don't.

Consumers are busy people, just like each of us. Face it, if it doesn't help us move up in our career or have a tangible life benefit, we ignore 90 percent of the information we receive (even if we asked for it).

That is why, at VIVmag, I have thrown down the gauntlet to Alchemy Worx (home of outspoken and often controversial founder and CEO Dela Quist) to help build the strength of our brand.

One of the reasons I chose Alchemy Worx is because they seem to have a different approach to e-mail - one that asks, "What if...?" In this week's column, I thought it would be fun to share some of Dela's opinions. Maybe, his comments will create a "light bulb" moment for your efforts as well.

So, let's cut to the chase:

Q: What are three questions people should stop asking when it comes to e-mail marketing?

DQ: Hmm, the top three have evolved over the years. Here are my current top three:

  1. Am I going to have to do anything significantly different now that ISPs monitor engagement?

    Asking this question is a complete waste of time for legitimate companies. ISPs are trying to make life tougher for spammers, not legitimate e-mail marketers! Spam CTRs (define) are typically south of 0.02 percent; that's between 100 and 1000 times lower than the CTR achieved by you or any client we have ever worked with. That's why ISPs are starting to use engagement metrics. Unless your CTR is < 0.02 percent, my advice is don't worry. ISPs aren't that dumb.

  2. Am I overmailing?

    I don't know. Are you? Common sense and your own numbers are more valuable than any number I could give you - which is why the typical answer you get from the experts is "it depends." Why are we trying to pretend that less is more? Imagine if I tried to tell you that being on TV once a month is more effective than every day! Sure, you may get a better ROI (define) by shifting your TV dollar to another channel, but that's not the case being made by the e-mail industry. Before any deliverability folks start getting jumpy, I am not suggesting you start e-mailing every 30 seconds, I am just saying one extra e-mail a month never killed anyone, but it will certainly help you make your number. (Jeanniey is yet to be convinced on this by the way).

  3. How can I be more relevant?

    Arrgh! The question should be how can I keep delivering value? I hold the view that it is not unreasonable for a subscriber to expect something in return for giving you permission to send them e-mail. Subscribers expect - and should get value from your program! Relevance is the cart and not the horse. Without value you may be on topic, but won't be relevant. So, do your e-mail campaigns give value or are they merely on topic? Your customers certainly know the difference - do you?

Q: If people follow VIVmag over the next six months, what can they expect to see from our groups working together?

DQ: As an ongoing process, the best way to observe this project evolve is to become a member and experience the most effective ways to seduce, engage, and drive response. If you are already a subscriber, some changes will be invisible to you as we will focus on improving the journey for new subscribers with lots of segmentation and new approaches to messaging. If I told you more now, Jeanniey would just edit it out.

There you have it. I'm putting my VIVmag brand on the line and looking to turn it into a living case study for e-mail success. As the "client," I am a bit nervous, but as an e-mail marketer, I am excited to see what happens next.


Jeanniey Mullen

Jeanniey Mullen is the vice president of marketing at NOOK by Barnes and Noble, focused on business growth and customer acquisition. 

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