Many readers of my last column were interested in what tools and services are available for tracking the metrics discussed. I’m glad the question arose, because today I’ll address this part of the e-newsletter strategy equation. Then, I’ll tell you ways to get a system in place to measure your next newsletter.
I’m continually amazed how many people just shove their newsletter out the door without any closed-loop analysis or measurement. How can savvy marketers ignore their ability to collect an almost unlimited amount of customer data? How can they have access to a comprehensive record of customer behavior as they stroll through their company’s buying environment yet not use that knowledge to their benefit?
With tools and/or services in place to measure your newsletter’s effectiveness, you’ll immediately see what your readers are doing and how they respond to your messages.
CRM in a Box
By now, I’m sure everyone’s familiar with the abbreviation CRM. If you’re with a big company, you probably shudder at the mere utterance of the term. CRM was the solution to end all solutions, full of promise, hope, and expensive experiences (many of which turned from bad to worse as time went on).
Sure, some CRM applications really do work. But when you read the fine print, your mind can’t help but ring up all the dollars that success costs.
And to what end? CRM is often construed as a Soviet Union-type solution, meaning it’s controlled by the IT department. These are usually great folks, but they know little about how sales and marketing groups (the people who are supposed to use the applications) work, think, and act. CRM’s goal is to learn how to better serve customers.
Guess what. Your newsletter can accomplish many of the goals CRM promised and failed to deliver. After all, what’s CRM? It’s how customers interact with you, from point of contact to point of purchase. Your newsletter can accomplish many of the same things — if you measure wisely.
Finally, “The How”
Having again stressed the importance of measuring, here are ways to actually put a system in place:
- Build a tool yourself. If you’re in a large organization with a helpful IT department, you can ask them to build a tool that tracks what you want to know. This is often an expensive and especially time-consuming route if you want to measure everything, but don’t despair. There are other options.
- Buy a tool and integrate. Existing, albeit sometimes expensive, tools can be purchased and integrated into your newsletter program. You’ll still need IT for this… sorry!
- Use an email or a Web-site tracking service. Online measurement tools and services track Web-site and/or email campaign activity. Unfortunately, few services in this category can provide much more than baseline information. This may be a good place to start, but remember, because of the limitations, you probably won’t be able to accurately correlate all the data you’d like to track. It will be hard to get a complete and accurate picture of how your newsletter program is performing.
- Use a fully integrated e-marketing service. The ideal solution is to find an ASP that can measure the entire e-marketing experience by integrating data from your campaigns, newsletter content, subscriber profiles, Web sites, and user behavior into a single snapshot. Statistics will tell you everything you need to know: who’s reading what and for how long, who they pass it along to, and every other metric I talked about last week. With this amount of integrated data, you’ll get the big picture (and the details) on what’s happening with your newsletter.
So between these options here, along with my CRM soapbox speech, I hope I’ve inspired you to find a way to start. Go forth and measure!
Until next time, email your thoughts and comments.
You can meet Kathleen at ClickZ Email Strategies in San Francisco, November 18-19.
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