What Happens When You Remove the E-Mail Blinders?


Last time, I wrote about an email program’s potential limitations when you don’t know how consumers understand your campaign’s context as part of their overall relationship with the company. Today, I wanted to continue that thought by sharing some of the benefits that can occur when you think of email as a holistic program.

What are the realities of holistic email programs? There are enormous challenges in implementing such programs. They’re hard to sell to a client as they often span many different business units and operational silos. There are data-sharing issues and internal process barriers to work through. But once the framework is set and one small program is implemented, the benefits become clear and the ROI (define) chart beings to grow tremendously.

Benefit 1: E-mail eliminates the distinction between “above the line” and “below the line” advertising.

Funny-sounding statement but true. A holistic email program spans an entire organization. E-mail is used for PR and branding purposes, customer service, marketing, and sales. Any element of each of those email messages (regardless of the actual purpose) have an effect on your program’s branding and marketing aspects.

Why does this matter? According to a Quris study, almost 50 percent of customers report they’ve stopped doing business with companies that have poor email practices. Removing the email blinders allows you to see both the possibility and the potential threat, and it encourages you to view email in an entirely different light.

Benefit 2: E-mail that integrates with other channels drives five times the results of single-channel programs.

A while back, Travelodge Hotels implemented a great integrated email program as part of a move toward holistic email. In the program, when you went to the Web site and searched for a hotel, the site would remember which state you searched. When you returned, if you hadn’t yet booked your room, a banner popped up with a great image of the state you last searched in and some special travel deals.

If you still didn’t book, your opt-in email that month contained a main image and call to action that duplicated what was presented to you on the site. I can’t provide an exact ROI lift for this program, but I can tell you similar programs I’ve recently implemented have demonstrated a minimum of fivefold increase in response, largely due to the initiatives’ integrated, holistic designs.

This type of program demonstrates email’s powerful role in a holistic, integrated environment. By taking the email blinders off and viewing email as part of the total customer experience, you can build programs that improve the interaction levels and intent each customer has after interacting with your messaging.

Benefit 3: Marketers who transition to holistic email marketing position themselves for email success in the future.

DoubleClick‘s latest report on email marketing response makes many references to declining open rates. These are due in part to changes in the way ISPs render email. Default image blocking often blocks the ability to track open rates. Though the finding isn’t earth-shattering in the email world, it is a warning that email marketing metrics as we know them will drastically change.

Many marketers have already raked CTR’s (define) value over the coals. Unsubscribe stats are also less valuable. Many people simply stop reading rather than unsubscribe. What’s next?

Transitioning to a holistic approach to email marketing will be key to truly understanding and demonstrating how valuable this channel is. When you take off the email blinders, you begin to see metrics in a whole new light, including click to open rate; landing page attrition; and Web site traffic impact on the day an email is sent. Customer brand recall, intent to purchase, and drive to store all show email’s persuasive power. E-mail open rates during DRTV broadcast flight windows and the incremental sales lifts that accompany multichannel efforts aren’t to be discounted, either.

The email landscape is changing. Single-channel, single-touch campaigns are no longer acceptable or profitable. Holistic email programs are the goal. They offer many challenges and benefits along the way. Smart marketers will begin testing these types of programs now to prepare for the future.


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