Email Marketing Insights
October 24, 2012 | Kara Trivunovic
Here's an article I wrote for ClickZ:
Email is an integral and important channel to most every marketer's communication mix. It's an effective, relevant, and timely way to message to customers far and wide - and since its mass marketing application took off 15-ish years ago, not too much has changed. Some of the lack of innovation here is due to the limitations put on the capabilities of the email itself by the inbox provider, and some of it is a lack of motivation by the marketer to change it. After all, if it ain't broke…
This lack of motivation is about to change - or is changing, or has changed - for marketers everywhere because of the…yep, you guessed it…mobile revolution. With the mass adoption of smartphones and tablets, the way subscribers are engaging with email communications is very different than it was just a few years ago. And marketers are having to accommodate it - not only from a rendering and engagement standpoint, but also the relevance of the messaging. Many marketers are either employing or exploring the idea of responsive template design - this approach will detect the device type/operating system and adjust its rendering accordingly. But in order to capitalize on the power of the mobile device, it has to go beyond that.
Here are three things to consider for upping the game around your mobile email strategy.
Consider the Geographical Component
It's a little like a game of "Where's Waldo?" email-style. Leveraging technologies like Moveable Ink, you can actually vary your messaging based on the location of the recipient at the time the message is opened. And since we are talking about mobility, let's face it - I can open your marketing email while I'm sitting at the airport in Chicago and again when I land in San Francisco. Wouldn't it make the messaging more relevant if you were able to recognize that?
Clearly that's a big undertaking from a content standpoint if you wanted to wrap content around each of the 50 states - but what if you regionalized the messaging, or used weather as a dictator of imagery, content, or offering? These are all things that are possible today because of mobile technologies - talk about getting relevant!
Alter the Content
Just because content is immediately actionable and sensible on a desktop or laptop doesn't mean it's true on a mobile device. Consider altering the content you serve when a mobile device is detected. You could encourage download of your app (if you have one…and the recipient does not), you could minimize the content to display information that would resonate quickly on a mobile and save you from the dreaded "delete" as part of the triaging effort, or you could even simplify the conversion process/call-to-action to drive higher engagement from readers on-the-run. The point here is that when optimizing your content for mobile rendering, it doesn't mean you have to serve up the exact same content in both places. Think it through.
Analyze the Behavior
As email marketers, we are innately curious about how recipients engage with our email communications; understanding how and when your recipients are viewing and engaging with content on mobile devices can provide a lot of insight into messaging strategies and areas of focus as you move your programs forward. For example, do you have a large audience of recipients who view email on a mobile and delete it? Do they view it on a mobile and later render it on a desktop as well? Do they only click through from the desktop but read and render on a mobile? What can you learn about the email engagement behavior of your subscribers by diving down a level deeper into the repetition in the engagement? It isn't just about open and clicks anymore. You need to focus on the "how" and "when" of the behavior as well.
There are a number of tactics and approaches that one can take to make an email program mobile - but don't stop with the "simple" stuff. Being able to leverage the power of mobile to drive your email programs is the most interesting thing that has happened to email since video…oh wait…nope, not there yet.
Posted by: Kara Trivunovic at 9:51 AM
May 21, 2010 | Kristin Hersant
Before the rise of social media sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, content was typically spread through email – the first social network. Web visitors and email recipients that liked a piece of content would email it to their friends and they, in turn, would do the same.
This had the potential to spread content visibility faster than search engines but sharing options were still limited. Today, email marketing campaign still hold the lion's share of content visibility at about half of the total content sharing on the Internet. However, social media has provided an interesting way for email marketers to increase their reach while using sharing tools as quick and effective calls to action.
What are social sharing tools and what can they do for email marketing?
These buttons allow readers to not only favorite your content, but send it to their friends via email and social media.
However implementing social sharing tools in your emails and on your website is only part of the job. In order to be shared, the content has to be share-worthy in the first place. Stop and ask yourself... would I forward this on? What about this is interesting and valuable? If you can't answer those questions, it's time to go back to the drawing board.
Choosing sharing tools and social platforms for your emails
One of the most common mistakes that email marketers make is trying to do too much with a single email. This is often manifested as a vast forest of tabs targeting every social media network.
Just as you need to evaluate your content, it is important that you think about who your audience is and determine which social networks and social media channels they use the most. This will help you select a social sharing tool that will best facilitate the sharing of your content. Remember that more options isn't always better. Sometimes too many options can detract from the user experience.
You can follow these steps when building a sharing tool strategy for social media and email marketing integration.
1. Content Research: what types of content are shared most often?
Alternatively, which topics tend to quickly turn stagnant? Use the reporting in your sharing platform to understand what people like and don't like. Modify your content creation strategies to feed them more of what they love.
2. Ask: marketing power comes from an audience that is willing to provide feedback.
Ask your readers which social media sites and applications they prefer and what motivates them to share content. Choose sharing tools and options that meet their needs and address their feedback.
3. Expand and Test: Add more sharing tools and social media.
If a piece of content is already doing well in email sharing, try adding social media sharing options. This can revive old content and enable you to fairly benchmark sharing sites against each other.
Why should email marketers use sharing tools?
The average Internet visitor is primarily concerned with speed. How fast can they get the information they need and how quickly can they share it with others.
If you provide sharing tools within your email marketing campaigns, you can give them a quick way to send interesting content to their networks. In a way, these sharing tools function in much the same way as calls to action.
By providing these tools throughout the content after key points or powerful statements (not just at the bottom), you can give your reader a quick way to connect with their friends through similar interests, benefiting your brand.
Do you want more tips to leverage the power of social media in email marketing? Discover StrongMail’s integrated social media and email marketing solutions and download the Email in the Age of Social Media white paper to learn how to effectively integrate social media into your email marketing campaigns.
Posted by: Kristin Hersant at 2:27 PM
March 31, 2010 | Kristin Hersant
According to Forrester Research's 2009 ROI of Relevance report, highly segmented email marketing programs generate 2 - 5X the performance of non-segmented programs. This may seem like a natural email marketing strategy for large enterprises with reams of customer data available to them; however, centralizing all of that data and making it actionable from a marketing perspective is no easy task. InterContinental Hotels Group recently co-presented a case study with StrongMail on how they are tackling this challenge at OMMA Global in San Francisco earlier this month. Here are some highlights from that presentation.
Only 50% of big companies currently segment their customer data for use in email marketing campaigns. This is because consolidating data is hard…many companies have disparate databases and some executives don't want to give marketing control over channels like customer service that are a critical part of the customer lifecycle. IHG was fortunate to have a management team that saw the benefits of creating a customer-centric organization and set about making it a reality.
IHG has 180 million guests per year and 40 million priority club members. To initiate the email customer lifecycle, IHG captures 70% - 80% of their email opt-ins on-property in their hotels. Prior to each stay, IHG sends a pre-stay email to initiate the guest experience, which are transactionally driven by data to sell upgrades, car rentals and other relevant offers prior to each trip. Then IHG follows each trip up with a post-stay email encouraging the customer to set their email preferences.
This is all pretty standard fare for the travel and hospitality industry, but what's unique about IHG is how they measure success. IHG measures email effectiveness by engagement. What matters most is how engaging the email content was – not how much revenue a specific email marketing campaign generated. Instead, they measure revenue by customer and let each channel optimize towards maximum performance. This holistic approach prevents IHG's various marketing channels from competing against each other for revenue and enables email to be the backbone of the customer lifecycle and experience.
Using this framework as a backbone, IHG employs a mix of specified preferences and behavioral targeting to generate dynamic content for custom promotional emails that are based on the types of offers that the recipient has said he or she would like to receive. To prevent cross-channel conflict, IHG dedicates content slots in every transactional or event-triggered email to their local hotels, enabling both corporate and the property to leverage a single customer touch point to promote their respective offers. Most importantly, IHG's email marketing team carves out time in their busy schedule to focus on segmentation strategies so that they can constantly improve on their already successful programs.
So is all of this work worth it? If you judge by action, most marketers don't appear to think so. Less than 30% of marketers take the time to personalize email marketing campaigns because email's return on investment remains sky-high without a targeting strategy. However, if you decide to put in the time, the payoff can be significant. According to Forrester Research, monthly email revenue can lift from $159K (no targeting) to $540K (web analytics) to $664K (segment/target) to $840K (social targeting).
That's some food for thought. If you're thinking about implementing a targeting strategy, we offer this piece of advice: don't try and boil the ocean. Start with the explicit information that you have in your database and then begin to layer in behavioral data after you've mastered phase one. The evidence is clear. No matter how basic the targeting, the rewards will be worth the investment.