Cash in on the Hidden ROI in Your Email Program

  |  May 7, 2013   |  Comments

To get the most out of email, and allow the learnings from your email marketing to help your entire organization improve, it's important to personalize, test, learn, communicate, and repeat.

The other day, I was reading an article from Internet Retailer about email marketing. Much of the article substantiated what I believe many of us already know: email is a tremendously valuable marketing channel.

In fact, the stats presented underscored just that, with 66 percent of marketers saying email generates a "good" or "excellent" marketing ROI.

And it's great that so many marketers recognize the importance of email. But the article led me to ask a question: Do brands really understand the value of email for growing other parts of the digital business?

My hunch is they don't. So let's take a look at a few key ways you can get even more ROI and intelligence from your own email marketing program.

Tear Down Silos and Take Email to the Next Level

Email is incredibly unique in that it's often one of the only contact channels that has insight into an audience. In essence, email is at the center of your segmentation strategy, allowing you to deliver unique products and content based on a certain level of "recorded" history.

Even at its most basic level, that can be impactful. Let's say you're just segmenting based on active vs. inactive customers (those who've purchased in the last six months and those who haven't). Based on that alone, you're likely delivering dramatically different email messaging to those segments. And that's the foundation of personalization. It's the first step toward developing targeted experiences for customers based on what you know about them.

But it begs a question: Is your email team working in a silo? Does your email team share the impact of their segmentation and overall program internally, across departments? Does your email team explore ways to become more sophisticated? Your email team could, and likely should, develop an internal partnership program that expands their knowledge and impact. Partnering with merchants who know the product best, for instance, could lead to more effective and accurate email copy.

Use Email As the Testing Ground for Your Personalization Strategy

The beauty of email is that it gives organizations the ability to access and act on customer data points. That means brands must expand the power of their email programs, and not just through automated messaging.

Two examples:

  • A customer bought a dress from your brand's Fall 2012 collection. In the spring, you roll out a new collection that has a similar aesthetic and style. In this case, it's a great idea to tease the Spring 2013 line to everyone who purchased from the Fall 2012 collection.
  • Customers in California are closer to your fulfillment centers than those who live in Arizona. Based on what you know from your email program about where those customers specifically live, you can segment even further and deliver messaging to California residents about speedy shipping, while offering a different promotion to those living in Arizona, like 5 percent off their order.

The best part of trying emails like these is that you can test messages, concepts, and personalization on small groups of people and get almost immediate feedback.

Uncover Even More Email ROI

Tearing down silos and using email to deliver messages that are personalized and segmented in new ways can have a huge impact on your business. But there are a few ways to get even more ROI out of these efforts:

  • Include more departments. There's no denying email's impact on other departments, such as fulfillment, merchandising, and operations. Tearing down the email silo specifically can help improve planning and executions of these campaigns, as well as uncover incredibly valuable information that can help other departments improve and impact the business. So make sure they're included.
  • Communicate wins. Once you've established a line of opportunity, it's important to give feedback on all results. Wins are great, but negative impact and the learnings that come with a "failed" email campaign can help your organization uncover and rectify issues or programs midstream.

The bottom line is that to get the most out of email, and allow the learnings from your email marketing to help your entire organization improve, it's important to personalize, test, learn, communicate, and repeat. This process is invaluable as an organizational behavior.

No matter what, you should never limit your email program to a "blast and report" mentality. If you do, a valuable learning tool that can help establish a personalization mentality in your organization could be going to waste.

Image on home page via Shutterstock.

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Nathan Richter

Nathan Richter advises top enterprise clients including Best Buy, QVC, Urban Outfitters, Sports Authority, and PETCO on website optimization. A veteran of digital marketing and online retailing, Richter has extensive hands-on experience helping enterprise clients implement successful multichannel marketing campaigns. Richter has directed online marketing and site optimization programs for David’s Bridal, QVC, The Franklin Mint, and dELiA's.

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