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ClickZ Readers Identify E-mail Priorities

  |  June 30, 2010   |  Comments

A look at the results of a ClickZ survey on what interests e-mail marketers and areas they would like to improve on.

You and your fellow ClickZ readers want to be more relevant to your e-mail subscribers, but you also have a lot going on. There's technology to master, data to marshal and use, metrics to define, and segmentation strategies to define. Oh, and don't neglect deeper engagement, list growth, and inbox placement while you're at it, please.

Sound like your day? These are the results of a brief survey of ClickZ readers conducted over the past month. We conducted the survey to learn about you (thanks for being so generous in your replies!), but also as part of a special project. My fellow e-mail columnists and I plan to use this information to produce a series of columns in July. Based on the input from the survey, we are each writing a perspective on "The 2012 Inbox - and how to get there." You'll see the columns in your regular e-mail newsletters. I'm excited about this project (if it works, we'll have the start of a great e-book!) and hope you will enjoy it and engage with us as we explore what's yet to come for e-mail marketing optimization.

Meanwhile, the survey shows that all of us want to fully connect with subscribers via e-mail marketing, but pulling that off well has a set of common challenges.

  • We know that engagement is vital to breaking through the clutter, but we're not quite sure what that means. How different is the expectation and desire for dialog and participation between customers, prospects, and partners?

  • We want to use e-mail for lead gen, and as part of multichannel campaigns. That raises questions about content and contact strategy, as well as attribution.

  • We know that social networks are nipping at the edges of our customers' attention span, drawing away subscribers and competing for attention. We believe e-mail still plays an important role in our customers' lives, and we want to respect and engage appropriately.

  • We worry that mobile readership will restrict our ability to engage, but at the same time, are empowered by the promise of mobile commerce and advanced e-reader technology.

  • We want to create custom subscriber experiences, but using data across platforms and systems takes time, resources, and commitment - all of which are in short supply.

The good news is that most of the survey participants have already successfully aligned business metrics to this goal. Nearly half (44 percent) said that "customer engagement" is the way their e-mail program is measured. Another 23 percent said that the factors that contribute to revenue (like engagement) matter. About the same number (21 percent), however, are still judged by one metric alone: revenue. Revenue by any means.


click to enlarge

Reaching any goal is hard when we're managing so many balls in the air. Of the 18 choices provided (and survey takers could choose as many as they liked), there was no clear priority - all of the options were significant. This includes list growth, engagement, inbox placement, data integration, segmentation, and automation. The highest rank goes to "Cultivating an active list" with 36 percent of participants selecting it, and "Segmentation" and "Measuring results/linking ROI to business goals" were second with 27 percent each. The lowest was "finding a new ESP/vendor" at 7 percent. This chart shows the top 10 selections. You can see that the slices are all nearly the same size.


click to enlarge

One thing really jumps out, and that is the fact that e-mail marketers must be good at a lot of things to be successful. Perhaps that is true of all marketing. Does it make you feel better to know that many others share your pain, or does it frustrate you? Wouldn't it be great if someone could just figure this whole darn thing out and give us one tool that would delight subscribers, automate relevance, provide an amazing custom report in the favorite colors of the boss - and make sure we reach the inbox, too?! (Calling all entrepreneurs!)

Use the comments section below to make any suggestions for this series of columns or to question anything about the survey results.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Stephanie Miller

Stephanie Miller is a relentless customer advocate and a champion for marketers creating memorable online experiences. A digital marketing expert, she helps responsible data-driven marketers connect with the people, resources, and ideas they need to optimize response and revenue. She speaks and writes regularly and leads many industry initiatives as VP, Member Relations and Chief Listening Officer at the Direct Marketing Association (www.the-dma.org). Feedback and column ideas most welcome, to smiller AT the-dma DOT org or @stephanieSAM.

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