Small Tune-Ups that Rev Up Your Revenues

With the economy plummeting, you’re probably cutting back on your marketing budgets in a big way.

Recently, though, I’ve seen a few clients use this opportunity to tune-up their e-mails — even their confirmation messages — to reap bigger revenues.

Here are two examples:

Optimize E-mail for the Blackberry

A major business travel company asked me to take a look at the itineraries it sends customers and “Blackberry optimize” the subject lines.

In other words, they wanted me to use my technique of frontloading the first 15 characters of a subject line to catch the attention of people who may read their e-mails on a mobile device. As I’ve written in previous columns, this Blackberry-optimization approach also improves open rates for people reading from their desktop computer — by leading off with the “key words” that interest the reader most.

Originally, I thought Blackberry optimization would be purely a creative exercise. But it took only one question — “What is the business problem you’re trying to solve here?” — to reveal the true nature of the challenge.

It turned out that when business travelers receive their itineraries, they assume they’re correct and don’t even look to see if the travel details are accurate. Later, closer to the date of the travel — even on their way to the airport — the traveler might look closer and find there’s a mistake. At that point, rebooking travel arrangements is more expensive — and if it’s the travel company’s mistake, they eat the cost.

So the business problem we’re trying to solve by optimizing the subject lines is to get people to immediately review their itineraries upon receipt.

Knowing that, I provided the client with a range of subject line alternatives with a strong call-to-action to open the e-mail immediately. I also recommended adding a header on top of the itinerary highlighting the need to review and correct travel arrangements within 24 hours.

The client will test these ideas and expects to recoup significant revenue that was previously lost to rebooking costs.

Their creative investment? A few hours of my consulting time.

Next on the agenda is to re-look at the itineraries again to see if there are any up-selling and cross-selling opportunities — and how we can tweak the e-mails further to capitalize on this potential.

Perform On-the-Fly E-mail Reviews

Another major corporation with a low e-mail marketing budget recently approached me to review their e-mails 24 hours before they go out the door — to make recommendations on more compelling subject lines, headers, and other messages.

These e-mails don’t require a complete creative overhaul. Because these are e-commerce e-mails, most of the screen is filled with attractive product shots that I’m sure will do the job.

But this is a great opportunity to learn what subject lines work best with their audiences — and to optimize their headers and messages that appear through the preview panes — to maximize their open rates, clickthroughs, and online sales.

Again, not a huge advertising agency fee required here, only a few hours of consulting time. And as we test and learn about the online buyer, the results of the weekly reviews should reap even higher rewards over time as we fine-tune performance.

The Lesson

Bottom line: use belt-tightening times to tighten your creative approach.

If you can’t launch the big campaign now, take a look at everything you’re doing now and try to fine tune it.

You can reap big rewards from looking at everything from your auto-responders and confirmation e-mails (which have to be sent out no matter what) to your most routine sales promotion e-mails and e-newsletters.

The revenue you recover could make you look like a hero to your higher-ups — and there’s never been a better time for that.

How are you working on optimizing your e-mail performance to weather the tough economy? Share your tips with Karen.

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