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Email Marketing: Measure Once . . . Then Measure Again


By Joe Harrison

Open ratesIncrease conversion rates. Improve lead generation. Grow email list size. These are the top three email marketing objectives in the coming year for the small and mid-sized businesses we polled in a recent research study. Just 12% of respondents called themselves “very successful” with achieving their important objectives, and 21% admitted to being “somewhat unsuccessful.”

How these organizations measure success may vary. According to the Direct Marketing Association’s 2015 Response Rate Report, email has the lowest cost-per-acquisition of all the media in the study when house lists of current customers are used . . . however it also suffers from one of the lowest response rates.

Click rates were lowest for lead generation emails sent to prospect lists (3-4%) and highest for B-to-B emails sent to house lists (17-18%) in the DMA study. For 36% of respondents, the primary purpose of emails sent to house lists was to make a direct sale. For emails sent to prospect lists, 62% say the main purpose was lead generation.

Like any marketing channel, email marketing follows a “test, measure, refine” improvement process that gets marketers closer to reaching their goals. What can you do in enhance your results?

  • Keep your list clean. Before removing anyone from your list who isn’t opening your emails, try to re-engage. A subject line like, “Because We Miss You,” personalizes your message that can include a special offer to encourage interaction. With multiple consecutive “un-opens,” you should remove them from your list, along with any undeliverable addresses.

  • Commit to split testing. Take a small percentage of your total list, and send half of the test group one email version while the other half gets another. Pick one variable: subject line, content, image or offer, for example. Then send the version that gets the most opens or clicks to your remaining subscriber list.

  • Now test some more. Identifying the best times and days of the week to send your emails starts with understanding the needs and expectations of your subscribers. You learn more by varying your deployments and analyzing performance. Also consider a short survey to ask subscribers about frequency and subject matter preferences.

  • Embrace a multi-channel strategy. Email can be a fast, affordable and effective channel for most marketers . . . and is best when part of an integrated engagement strategy. According to the DMA study, 44% of their survey respondents use three or more channels for their marketing efforts. In these instances, the most popular channels tend to be email, direct mail and social media.
  • Ask us for a free copy of Email List Growth from the Small to Medium-sized Business Perspective for more tips and important insights.