Following the report, we’ve recently published in collaboration with Dr Dave Chaffey and Smart Insights, we’ve organized an online webinar to discuss the aims and outcomes of our study.
For those of you who didn’t get the chance to join us, here’s a nice and quick recap to get you on track. In this post you’ll find both – the slide deck and a recording of the meeting – so that you too can start achieving email marketing excellence today!
Why you should optimize email campaigns
Organic, CPC (SEM), and Email continue to be the online marketing channels driving most e-commerce purchases. In fact, email itself, generates an ROI of 3800% according to DMA National Client Email Report from 2015. It’s also been rated as one of the most effective digital media channels by respondents of our study.
However, as we’ve seen in the course of this study, it’s just the average ROI we’re usually hearing about. Having put email marketing capabilities and campaign effectiveness together, we’ve found that marketers, whose email campaigns are more advanced, in general are more positive about their returns from this channel.
But that’s only an opinion, while we really like numbers. So, we’ve decided to find out what’s really taking place and crunch some data. We analyzed over 130 million email messages our clients sent out. The graph below shows you the outcomes.
As you can see, initially the results are as predicted – the more advanced you are, the higher the average OR and CTR of your campaigns. What’s interesting though is that the Advanced – and Expert – level marketers observed lower than the intermediate results.
Our first impression was that the most sophisticated email marketers operate in the most competitive markets, such as retail, travel, and financial services, where it is harder to get responses. In some sectors, such as retail, testing shows that, across a quarter or year, a higher send frequency produces higher revenue from the email list, but the response from individual emails may be lower.
We also asked Jordie van Rijn to explain this pattern:
“Don’t be thrown off by the dip at the higher sophistication end of the spectrum. We are comparing apples-to-oranges here. Often the advanced senders will also have a bigger (but older) databases, or are in high velocity industry like fashion or travel, sending more frequently. All of those have a profound impact on response rates, but still they get more traffic and sales because of their scale”.
In other words, it pays to optimize. Especially so in the more competitive markets, where average results may be lower than in other sectors.
The CRITICAL areas of email marketing that boost response
Email marketing campaign improvement starts with the analysis of ones’ own practices and comparing them against what competitors are doing, and how the audience reacts to said messages.
Proposed by Dr Dave Chaffey mnemonic CRITICAL is a great point of reference for the purpose of email campaign analysis. Below you’ll see all of these elements with short descriptions and questions you should be asking yourself before hitting the “send” button in your next campaign.
- Creative – how creative is your creative?
- Relevance – does your message carry value for each individual user?
- Incentive – what reason to act does the user have?
- Targeting or Timing – to whom exactly and at what time are you writing?
- Integration through time – are you using all the email marketing options (newsletters, reactivation emails, customer survey messages or multi-step welcome series) in your strategy?
- Conversation – are you talking at or with people? Think of social proof.
- Attributes – what’s outside of your email and how it resonates with audience? Subject, From address?
- List management, landing pages, deliverability – never skip these critical elements that could make or break your email campaigns. Low deliverability or bad converting website will overpower even the most creative email messages.
Proven techniques towards email marketing sophistication
After you’ve learned to analyze your email marketing campaigns, you should go one step further, and start optimizing them. Here are 5 necessary steps you should take to achieve email marketing excellence:
1. Track more
Open and Click-thru rates are great, but they won’t give you the full picture of your campaign status. Forget vanity metrics such as number of likes or page views.
If you consider also bounces, unsubscribe rates, complaint rates, ROI, CPA or Sales – you’ll know whether what you’ve been doing is delivering the right results. Can you increase the communication frequency? Are people happy with your content? Should you invest more in the promotional campaign? You’ll know the answers to these questions only if you consider the whole range of metrics.
Growing an email list is hard enough, but it’s not the only thing you should remember about. Being proactive in building it across multiple channels and following the best practices in terms of list hygiene are also essential. Use double opt-in, manage bounces appropriately and observe how your audience reacts to each of your campaigns.
If possible, automate the onboarding process with a welcome email series. This way, even if you’re away or just finished a promotional campaign, your audience will stay in touch with your brand.
3. Target wisely
Knowing who your audience is, is the key. Being aware of what stage of lifecycle they’re on will help you target them better. Craft your emails according to the different needs and wants of your personas. Align your offer and messages with their expectations, and watch your conversions grow.
4. Manage deliverability
Email deliverability is essential to achieving high returns from email marketing campaigns. If your messages don’t land in the inbox, how can they convert them and sell your product or service? That’s why you should: evaluate the frequency and format of your messages, test different versions of content, build your email list according to best practices, and talk to your ESP about ways to improve your results.
5. Optimize your messages
Be smart about your emails. Make sure that where possible, you can cross-sell, up-sell or reactivate your audience with relevant content that’s delivered at the right time. Where applicable, embrace urgency and play of the power of loss aversion – this will lift your sales up! Most importantly, exceed expectations and be creative.
Check out the slide-deck of the presentation or jump right into the webinar recording itself. If you wish to find out more about email marketing or seek advice on email marketing strategy, visit Smart Insights email marketing hub page.