As Ann mentioned last week, this column is ready to delve more deeply into specific email opportunities and strategies. If you’ve been following the thread from the beginning, you’ll know that a good portion of the previous articles surveyed various topics and philosophies within the email channel. This was to get those fairly new to the space up to speed on some of its possibilities… along with some of its strengths and weaknesses.
From here on out, we’ll explore the email channel in more detail. Before we begin, however, let’s recap some of the jargon that’s used so heavily in this space. For those of you who may find the following terms and definitions too basic, just consider it a primer for the content that lies ahead in the coming weeks.
CTR (Click-through rate)
This is one of the key success measures of an email campaign. It’s the number of times that a standard email’s link (or links) is clicked to drive recipients to the promotion’s site. Example: If, out of 10,000 emails sent, 1,000 people clicked through, the CTR would then be ten percent. (Industry average is currently five to 15 percent, according to Forrester.)
This word carries a lot of meanings, of course, but in email promotional terms, it generally means the number of recipients that ended up completing the promotion’s ultimate goal. Whether that means sign-ups or registrants to a free newsletter or report or even actual sales it’s another important indicator of a promotion’s success. To continue the example above: If, out of 10,000 emails sent and 1,000 click-throughs, 200 people end up registering for the promotion (or whatever the final call to action was), the final conversion was 2 percent of total emails sent, or 20 percent of click-throughs. Conversion averages vary significantly depending upon the offer.
HTML (HyperText Markup Language)
An HTML email is one that is graphically rich with color and images and is emerging as the standard for email marketing. Marketers have to keep in mind that some recipients do not want to receive their emails in HTML, due to low bandwidth and/or the longer download times that HTML messages require at times. However, HTML messages often pull a higher response than plain-text messages.
Clickable text doesn’t contain images but is better than plain text because links in the message become “hyperlinks,” meaning they are executable when clicked on and will take people directly to the promotion’s site page. Many text-only email programs will convert plain text to clickable text when they see “http://” in the message body.
Landing page (a.k.a. “Jump” or “Splash” page)
A page on a web site that is specific to an email promotion’s offer. For instance, say your email is promoting a free set of whitepapers on Internet marketing. If recipients click on the link within that email, they would be directed to a custom page on your site that is focused and goes into more detail on those whitepapers. Sounds like common sense, but you’d be surprised how many marketers want to direct folks to their home pages.
The ability of an email marketing solution either outsourced or in-house to deploy highly targeted messages to very numerous yet small customer segments based on business rules associated with its database. For example, you may have a message where customers from Canada get $5.00 off shipping while customers from the U.S. get free shipping.
Related to the above. Segmentation is the act of taking your house mailing list and separating it so that recipients get different content based on their demographics, buying patterns, interest areas, etc. Dynamic content could segment your house file into hundreds of thousands of segments, all dynamically generated during delivery.
With regards to email, a cookie is a small file stored or embedded within your outbound HTML-based emails. It can track a recipient’s click-through and buy rate… as well as whether or not he or she ended up forwarding the message. Cookies are very useful when it comes to reporting and measuring a campaign’s overall success.
Hard vs. Soft Bounces
These two terms reference the undeliverables within an email campaign. A hard bounce represents a specifically addressed email that, for whatever reason, never left the transmitting server. A soft bounce represents an email that made it to the destined server but couldn’t find the designated email address that resides there.
I like Internet marketing expert Jim Sterne’s definition of this term: “Word of mouth on steroids.” That pretty much sums it up, given the fact that forwarding a promotion via email is easy for customers and prospects to do… so the pass-along rate can grow exponentially. With a viral marketing campaign, a promotion will generally reward a customer to forward an email with an incentive of a contest or a discount.
When an email list is 100 percent opt-in, it means that subscribers to that list have stated that they want to receive promotional messages from designated sites or on selected categories. The list has essentially said, “Yes, I’d like to receive messages on the following…” They’ve given their permission on the front end, before ever having received one solicitation, unlike…
When an email list has NOT given its permission on the front end, and instead is sent a promotion containing a statement that gives members the option to not receive such emails in the future. THIS list is essentially being told, “Here’s a promotion on ___. If you don’t want to receive any more of these, please click here…”
To summarize, “opt-in” policies allow the recipients/customers to speak first… and only if they want the promotions. “Opt-out” has the marketer speaking first and demands a response if the recipient/customer does NOT want to hear from that marketer again.
Those are the basic terms that you’ll hear over and over again. Of course, there are many, many more; but for the sake of time and space, we’ll save some for later.
So hang onto your hats, everyone, and get ready for the ride. We’re going to cover fresh, dynamic topics and smart new ideas. See you next week.