It's essential to get the fundamentals of email right before implementing advanced techniques such as dynamic messaging, responsive design, and behavioral targeting.
Read the website and marketing materials of any email service provider (ESP) or email agency and you'll hear all about dynamic messaging, responsive design, and behavioral targeting. While I'm all in favor of these things and have been talking about dynamic messaging for a decade, I do have one major misgiving.
I believe it's essential to get the fundamentals of email right before implementing advanced techniques such as those listed above. What do I mean by fundamentals? I think there are five key things to ensure you have nailed before you start with the advanced stuff. I also believe that the bar for these essentials has been rising. What was OK a few years ago is sub-standard today.
If your list isn't growing, it's shrinking. Ensuring that interested subscribers are able to quickly and effectively join your list, that their addresses are effectively validated, and that they receive welcome and on-boarding messages is fundamental to ensuring list growth.
Today's list growth fundamentals include real-time activation messaging. Ten years ago it was acceptable for there to be a few days delay between signup and welcome message; today it should be immediate and more than just a text message from your web server. It should be a fully branded introduction to your company and your email program.
Depending on your business this may be a newsletter or it may be sales pieces. It doesn't have to be fancy to be effective but it should be solid and it should be regular. If you aren't communicating regularly with everyone, you're really dropping the ball, and fancy campaigns won't make up for skipping this fundamental.
List hygiene today also includes authentication and feedback loop support across all your outbound messaging. Failure here can undermine efforts across the board.
Once an optional extra for an email program, this is a new fundamental. Identifying inactive or never active subscribers and encouraging them to reengage or opt out is important from a list hygiene standpoint, but also an important aspect of understanding who your audience really is.
Continuous testing of subject lines, offers, and creative is fundamental to a well-managed email program, not just an optional extra. It is built into the heart of how the best email marketers run their programs.
Right now there is another item that is pushing to become a new fundamental, and that's responsive, or mobile-optimized, design. It's not there yet but it won't be long.
To summarize, I'm totally in favor of running cross-channel, automated, behaviorally targeted, dynamic campaigns with sophisticated business rules. But only once the fundamentals are in place.
If you aren't growing and maintaining your database, ensuring your audience is engaged, and receiving good content on a regular basis, then you will be building on sand. Not to mention missing out on the easiest wins in email marketing.
Until next time,
Image on home page via Shutterstock.
Join the Industry's Leading eCommerce & Direct Marketing Experts in Chicago
ClickZ Live Chicago (Nov 3-6) will deliver over 50 sessions across 4 days and 10 individual tracks, including Data-Driven Marketing, Social, Mobile, Display, Search and Email. Check out the full agenda and register by Friday, Oct 3 to take advantage of Early Bird Rates!
Derek Harding is the CEO and founder of Innovyx Inc., a member of the Omnicom Group and the first e-mail service provider to be wholly owned by a full-service marketing agency. A British expatriate living in Seattle, WA, Derek is a technologist by background who has been working in online marketing on both sides of the Atlantic for the last 10 years.
IBM Social Analytics: The Science Behind Social Media Marketing
80% of internet users say they prefer to connect with brands via Facebook. 65% of social media users say they use it to learn more about brands, products and services. Learn about how to find more about customers' attitudes, preferences and buying habits from what they say on social media channels.
An Introduction to Marketing Attribution: Selecting the Right Model for Search, Display & Social Advertising
If you're considering implementing a marketing attribution model to measure and optimize your programs, this paper is a great introduction. It also includes real-life tips from marketers who have successfully implemented attribution in their organizations.
September 23, 2014
September 30, 2014
1:00pm ET/10:00am PT
October 23, 2014
1:00pm ET/10:00am PT