ATLANTA, June 30, 2005 -- With email volume in the U.S. alone expected to reach more than 2.6 trillion messages in 2007, email marketers must begin today to identify how best to capture a share of their customers' inboxes and maximize campaign return on investment.
In a co-hosted teleseminar that received more than 750 registrants, Bill Nussey, CEO of Silverpop, and David Hallerman, a senior analyst with eMarketer, offered four strategies for improving email campaigns' ROI. Recommendations were based on research findings from eMarketer's report "E-Mail Marketing: How to Improve ROI." The report compiles and analyzes industry statistics from 15 sources, including Forrester Research, JupiterResearch, MarketingProfs, MarketingSherpa, Silverpop and others.
Four strategies to improve email marketing ROI include:
1. Forget permission marketing. Think anticipation marketing.
Research shows that 54 percent of email users regularly read messages from five or more different companies. It's no longer sufficient to simply obtain opt-ins. Customers must now anticipate your emails.
"The test of a good email campaign should be whether or not the messages are actually anticipated," Nussey said. "Studies show half of all users open emails when they recognize the sender. Consumer focus has shifted from the subject line to the from field. That change in behavior underscores the importance of developing an email brand value. Marketers' emphasis should move from one-time email success to building up the brand over a series of email campaigns that make customers actually anticipate hearing from you."
2. Offer something of value
Timely, well-branded messages that engage a recipient's interest greatly increase the chances that emails will be anticipated--critical to remaining welcome in the inbox. But nearly half (46 percent) of Internet users say commercial emails they receive are not targeted to their needs.
"It's no longer just about relevant content and targeted lists. Marketers must begin to think in terms of customer engagement," Nussey said. "High ROI from email marketing comes from being more relevant and more targeted than the dozen or so other emails your customer may have signed up for. You're not just going up against your competitors' email program--you're going up against everybody who wants your customer's attention."
3. Don't send too often or too rarely
Email's low cost and immediacy compared to other marketing channels can lead to short-term thinking as marketers, eager to repeat successes, churn out campaign after campaign without regard to frequency or relevance. Such tactics usually elicit diminishing returns and can negatively impact brand image.
Generally speaking, and in the absence of testing to determine optimal frequency, Nussey said marketers who send promotional campaigns more than twice a month without sufficient regard for individual recipients' desires, are probably sending too often. According to Hallerman, the flip side of that coin is sending too rarely. Recipients may forget why someone is sending them email, or that they even gave permission to be sent emails, if months go by between messages.
"While there is no exact rule about how often you should send emails, I would say that once every four-to-six weeks is a minimum that can work for virtually any business," he said. "Much less than that, and you get into the 'too-rarely' range."
4. Test. Test. And Test Again.
Despite the fact that testing clearly and significantly improves ROI, more than half of companies with email marketing programs don't test different subject lines to see which does better, and nearly a quarter don't track open rates, which can reveal how recipients feel about the brand.
"Email is so cheap and easy that many companies don't think it's necessary to test," said Hallerman. "But campaign metrics are powerful marketing tools," added Nussey. "When you get a campaign right, you have a chance to strengthen brand loyalty and customer life time value. When you do it wrong, you risk damaging your brand and undermining your ROI."
For more information about improving the ROI of email campaigns, visit www.silverpop.com or www.emarketer.com.
Silverpop is ranked as having the highest business value and richest feature set by JupiterResearch in 2004, Silverpop was also acknowledged by research company Forrester as a "strong performer" that "stands out with an interface that is quite easy to use while providing strong functionality." Silverpop helps marketers cultivate and maintain long-term strategic relationships with customers and partners by maximizing the potential of email as a relationship tool. Its flexible service model allows marketers to choose from full service or ASP and easily move between the two, making it an ideal solution for marketers at any stage of using email. Silverpop provides email marketing to industry leading companies including The Bombay Company, British Sky Broadcasting, Weather.com and more.
eMarketer is "the First Place to Look" for market research information related to e-business, online marketing and emerging technologies. eMarketer aggregates and analyzes e-business research from over 1,700 sources and brings it together in one place. This research is presented in analyst reports and the "eStat Database" - the most comprehensive compilation of up-to-date e-business and online marketing statistics in the world. For more information, visit www.emarketer.com.