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The 10,000 ft View – Email Marketing The Big 4

2015 is now in full swing and you know what that means — time for another multi-part marketing series. This time, we’ll be focusing on four elements of e-mail marketing.  Due to the increase in social media use, some businesses believe that e-mail marketing is no longer effective, but the numbers prove otherwise. It’s important that you include e-mail marketing in your overall business strategy.

Chapter 1: Challenges

For this particular discussion, let’s focus on some of the challenges you may need to face head-on.

Integrating E-mail Data

The holy grail in marketing is the ability to obtain valuable data through multiple channels. For this to be a reality when utilizing e-mail marketing, you need to integrate your e-mails with other channels. This will enable you to bring e-mail marketing opportunities, social media, landing pages, and other such elements together in a neat little package. This can easily be accomplished with the use of marketing software. Or, if you don’t have the necessary resources, you can hire a marketing firm to do everything for you.

Low Deliverability Rates

It’s wishful thinking to believe that each e-mail you send out during a campaign is going to arrive in the recipient’s inbox. While you may have learned to live with bounced e-mails, it’s important that you take steps to improve their deliverability rate. Why? Because if your deliverability rate is consistently low, some ISPs may block your messages based on the assumption, false as it may be, that the e-mails are not being sent in good faith. You can improve this rate by using a three-step process: 1) Regularly delete addresses that are not receiving your messages. 2) Tighten up your opt-in process to weed out people who aren’t truly interested. 3) Include a way within each e-mail for the recipient to change their e-mail address in your system.

Pulling in Subscribers and Keeping Them

First off, as tantalizing a prospect as it might be, do not purchase e-mail lists for your e-mail campaigns. All this does is clutter up your database with recipients that are not very good prospects at all. Most of the time, the cons of this technique greatly outweigh the pros. Instead, you want to earn your subscribers. Target your marketing campaign to those who are most likely to be interested in what you’re offering. Let them know the types of information, offers, and other benefits they will be receiving. Also don’t worry about sending too many e-mails. The real trick is to send targeted e-mails. Just don’t go too crazy with it.

Achieving Measurable ROI

One of your obvious goals with any type of marketing is to ensure that you are receiving a return on investment (ROI). This has proven to be somewhat difficult in regards to e-mail marketing because it can be a challenge to connect the dots from a delivered marketing e-mail to the point when those subscribers are transformed into customers. The solution is closed-loop marketing, where you follow a lead from the initial visit to your website to any other demonstrations of engagement, whether it’s viewing other pages, downloading content, or clicking on your e-mails. This strategy will help you identify your most powerful marketing channels and assist you with identifying the value of each.

Nurture Your Leads

If you want your e-mail marketing campaigns to be successful, you need to nurture your new leads. This involves sending out of a series of automated e-mails to an early stage lead to verify that the lead could be a legitimate source of revenue. In addition to weeding out the weaker leads, you establish immediate contact with the legitimate ones, which can greatly increase the likelihood of conversion to customer. Once you determine which ones are true sales leads, it’s time to hand them over to your sales team and let them work their magic.

Chapter 2: Types of Emails

You may not use all of these, but the more you can include in your marketing campaigns, the more likely that it will be a success.

E-mail Newsletter

For many companies, e-mail newsletters are the backbone of e-mail marketing. They create an anticipation with customers and keep them apprised of what’s going on with your company, new product details, exciting announcements, and other such details. The newsletter doesn’t have to adhere to a certain type of content. Rather, it allows you to provide different forms of content all in one place, such as the announcement of a product release, reviews of your services, the introduction of a new blog post, or anything else you’d like to convey. This technique allows you to connect with each customer on a personal basis.


E-mail digests are perfect for readers who want to quickly “digest” previous information all in one sitting. They provide summaries of information that previous e-mails have covered and allow you a second opportunity to get the receiver’s attention. Of course, you won’t be able to stick in every detail included in past e-mails. Instead, the digest should highlight the most important aspects of past correspondence, whether it covers the past week, month, or a bit longer. This is a very convenient way for many recipients to keep up on the goings-on in your company.

Dedicated E-mails

These types of e-mails focus on a single aspect, whether it’s the notification of a new product or service, the announcement of an upcoming event, or the release of a whitepaper that the recipient may be interested in checking out. The best technique when using dedicated e-mails is to only send them to targeted groups of individuals who would most likely be interested in the information. If you send each dedicated e-mail to every person on your mailing list, you risk alienating some of them and increasing your number of unsubscribes, both of which are obviously things you want to avoid.

Lead Nurturing 

Lead nurturing can be indispensable once you learn how it works. Nurturing introduces the use of tightly connected e-mails, each of which is full of useful content and a clear purpose, to newly found leads. They are set up to automatically be sent as new leads come in, resulting in a high return with a small amount of investment. These e-mails are also targeted, increasing the likelihood that the leads will be converted into customers.

Sponsorship E-mails

This type of e-mail marketing is different than the ones we’ve discussed up to this point. The previous types are all based around sending e-mails to your own database. Sponsorship e-mails, on the other hand, are a paid media strategy. What you’re doing is paying another vendor to be included in their newsletter. You designate the target audience you want to reach and provide the information, and the vendor does the rest. If you can partner with a reputable vendor, sponsorship e-mails can be quite beneficial, but remember that there is a cost involved.

Transactional E-mails

Transactional e-mails are messages that are received once a certain action has been taken. This includes order confirmation, shipment updates, completion of a survey, the delivery of log-in information, and other similar pieces of information. These e-mails provide the user with valuable information and can increase your connection with the customer.

Chapter 2: Email Marketing Metrics

In order to properly analyze the effectiveness of your e-mail marketing campaigns, you must compare the performance of each one against your own average campaign performance. This will help decide whether a particular campaign performed better or worse than what you should be expecting. You can start by looking at these metrics:

Bounce Rate

This refers to the number of e-mails that are returned to you — or “bounced” — as undeliverable. You need to handle these e-mails quickly because if your bounce rate is too high, some e-mail services may mistakenly see you as a spammer and block your address, and you certainly don’t want that to happen. Always be sure to check the reason for return. If it appears to be a temporary problem, such as a full inbox or problem with the recipient’s server, try that address in at least one more campaign. If the return is due to an e-mail address being invalid or closed, however, delete those contacts right away.

Delivery Rate

To calculate the delivery rate — the percentage of e-mails that were successfully delivered to their intended recipients — all you need to do is subtract the number of bounced e-mails from the total number of e-mails sent, then divide that number by the original number. If you want to achieve success with your e-mail campaign, you should be getting a 95 percent delivery rate or higher. If you dip lower than that on a consistent basis, you may need to pay closer attention to your subject line and content of the message. Your message may be getting flagged as spam for some reason.

List Growth Rate

In order for a company’s e-mail marketing campaigns to be successful, it’s imperative that new e-mail subscribers are added each month. The list growth rate is a measurement of how quickly this is happening. Calculation of this rate is accomplished by subtracting the number of opt-outs and e-mails returned due to invalid or closed accounts from the number of new subscribers in a given month. Once you have that number, divide it by the size of the original list. Due to recipients changing jobs, switching e-mail providers, creating new accounts after forgetting their passwords, and similar reasons, it is estimated that as much as 25 percent of your e-mail list will be cut on an annual basis. This emphasizes your need to keep chugging along and gaining new recipients on a continuous basis.

Click-Through Rate

A measurement that can immediately tell you how effective your content is, the click-through rate (CTR) is the percentage of recipients who clicked on one or more links in an e-mail message you sent. This is a somewhat unusual metric, as it can be calculated by taking the number of unique clicks or multiple clicks by the same recipient and dividing either number by the total number of delivered e-mails. CTR can be extremely helpful when deciding what to include in each e-mail campaign since it serves as a good indicator of what recipients are responding to in a positive manner.

Conversion Rate

This is often considered to provide the best measurement of your campaign’s effectiveness since it indicates the percentage of recipients who clicked on a link that you provided in your marketing e-mail, then completed a desired action. This action can range from filling out a sign-up form to purchasing a product or service, depending on the campaign. If you’re scoring high with this rate, you’re definitely doing something right.

E-mail Sharing

One of the greatest tools in the world of e-mail and social media is the ability to effortlessly “share” information with friends by simply having them click a button. Tracking the percentage of e-mail recipients who clicked such a button in your e-mail (or one that allows them to forward the e-mail to a friend) can give you insight as to which marketing campaigns are sparking so much interest that recipients want to tell their friends and family, thereby allowing you to better tailor future campaigns.

Revenue Per E-mail Sent

This one is rather self-explanatory. Calculating the revenue per e-mail sent is the perfect indication for e-commerce marketers who generate a healthy amount of direct sales from e-mail campaigns. If you’re already set up to track conversion rates, then you’re ready to go with this type of tracking as well. You can perform the calculation by dividing the total revenue generated from the campaign by the number of e-mails sent. Yes, it’s that easy.

Open Rate

This, quite simply, refers to the percentage of e-mails that were opened by recipients. While this information can be helpful, there are a couple of drawbacks to be aware of. First, an e-mail is only considered to be “opened” if the recipient was able to receive any images that you imbedded into the message, which leads to under-reporting. Second, open rates can be manipulated by creating a snappy, sensational subject line that gets people to open the e-mail but doesn’t deliver, which leads to over-reporting. Best that you stick with click-through rate as an indicator of success.

Unsubscribe Rate 

No one likes rejection, and e-mailing marketing definitely opens you up for it. Each e-mail that you send will include a way to unsubscribe, and to your dismay, some recipients will take advantage of that. However, even though you want to track this information, the truth is that your unsubscribe rate isn’t very reliable. That’s because many recipients will never unsubscribe; they’ll simply not open your messages or have them redirected into their junk mail folder. What open rate is helpful for is calculating your overall list growth rate and noticing sudden spikes in activity from an e-mail campaign. So it does have its uses.


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