While generating revenues is the goal of most email marketers, some are more skillful at monetizing their efforts than others. Surveys show the average return on email marketing is about $44 for every dollar spent. However, as Chad White notes, many brands are happy achieving a $20 return for each dollar spent, while others are able to generate $80 per dollar spent or more.
“A lot of marketers just don’t realize how much better they could be doing by improving their practices,” says White. “There’s lots of untapped potential there once you wake up to the possibilities.”
The methods you can employ to improve your email marketing ROI will vary according to the current condition of your program and your available resources. Email marketers in the top tier will continue pushing the envelope by deploying more sophisticated techniques, while those with more rudimentary programs can improve their ROI by moving their program further along the curve.
For spray-and-pray marketers who have been essentially winging it, bringing some discipline to your program can pay big dividends. For this group, the four best things you can do to increase your revenues are:
- Focus on deliverability and hygiene
- Segment your list
- Automate your program
- Deploy a dashboard
1. Shape Up
Email marketing programs that are out of shape can benefit from some basic optimization work. If you are among those who have been negligent about data quality, this is where you can begin to improve performance. This means focusing on deliverability, cleaning up your list, pruning addresses and putting verification measures in place.
If you can’t reach your prospects, you can’t generate revenues, which is why experts recommend email hygiene to improve deliverability and ROI. As Erin Haselkorn of Experian explains, without accurate data, all the work you put into subject lines, messaging, graphics and segmentation falls to the wayside. Haselkorn recommends checking for bad addresses-including spam traps and malicious addresses-before you launch a campaign to ensure your messages reach prospective customers.
“Want to maximize email marketing ROI?” asks Cassie Breen. “Focus on email deliverability.” Likewise, Liga Bizune cites delivery as the key factor to calculate ROI and confirm that your campaign was successful. The tactics Bizune recommends for improving email deliverability include regular list cleaning, removing hard bounces and eliminating inactive subscribers.
2. Segment for Success
Marketo’s benchmark tests show segmentation to be the highest ROI tactic used by email marketers-higher even than drip marketing or dynamic content. Likewise, says Mitch Lapides of FulcrumTech, “The evidence is overwhelming – email list segmentation is a best practice that can dramatically improve email-campaign results.” By dividing your email list into different subgroups, Lapides explains, you can send more targeted emails that maximize the relevance of your marketing message for each subscriber.
Silverpop’s Loren McDonald also recommends segmenting your list, noting that smart use of segmentation produces higher open and conversion rates, boosts campaign results, and yields more sales.
Despite its effectiveness, Chris Hexton says segmentation is the most overlooked email marketing strategy. In his conversations with email marketers looking to better their results, he says, they “rarely focus on the one thing that always helps to increase conversions: segmentation.”
Besides segmenting your list according to demographic profiles, interests and behavior, you also can segment inactive subscribers rather than simply eliminating them. This way, you can try to arouse their interest through special offers and other stimuli.
3. Automation Boosts Monetization
Survey data show email automation can increase engagement, conversion rates and revenues. As TowerData CEO Tom Burke relates, companies like SmartPak Equine and Hear and Play Music have experienced dramatically better results using automated triggered emails.
Automation will send in mails in response to any number of triggers you set, including welcomes, thank yous, anniversaries, reminders and transactions.
Real-time triggers sent immediately in response to a prospect’s activities are the leading edge of this practice. This requires a more sophisticated infrastructure that can monitor user behavior and dynamically parcel out personalized content on the fly.
Here too, data quality plays a key role. As Eloqua points out, without quality data to support it, marketing automation really can’t do what it’s made for. The “garbage in, garbage out” principle applies, so the stronger the prospect list and cleaner the data, the better your results.
4. Monitor, Measure & Track
Email marketers who have been playing fast and loose can improve performance by monitoring and measuring campaign results. You can make your life even easier by employing a dashboard. For those who want to get started, Christopher Penn of WhatCounts and Carrie Hill of MarketingLand and Kristi Hines of Kiss Metrics tell you how to set up an email marketing metrics dashboard using Google Analytics. Kristi includes links to plenty of examples and templates you can grab and use. Clive Patterson on the Moz blog also offers a tutorial on Dashboard basics to get you started.
The most sophisticated marketers use methods such as real-time multivariate testing and predictive analytics to improve campaign results. In my next post, I’ll look more closely at the leading-edge methods being used to generate more revenues. Subscribe to the TowerData blog now so you don’t miss it!
Photo Credit: peter pick