Cleaning House in 2013: Email Marketing Right Now

Leah Kinthaert

In today’s Media Post Email Insider article “How Email Marketing Will Change in a Post Recession Economy” Mike May talks about the current fiscal optimism and how it will reflect on email marketing: “Leading the way is email, at about $40 in sales for every $1 spent, according to the DMA. Do not be surprised to see email funds stolen back from social media, where the ROI is only about one-third as much.”

Before we all decide to switch gears to email marketing, however, it’s a good idea to look at worldwide IBR or inbox placement rates. In 2011 they showed a decrease from 81% in the first half of 2011 to 76% in the second half.

This is good for email recipients, and although scary, it’s ultimately good for email marketers. Essentially Google and other ISPs have taken it upon themselves to clean those emails lists we’ve mechanically been sending to. Now unless a recipient is opening, clicking and otherwise engaging with your email – you will be considered a spammer.

We need to take a much closer look at our lists. Rob Willis, in his recent blog article at “Postcode Anywhere” describes the crisis marketers are having with data today. He discusses recent research done by the company Dynamic Markets which says that 29 per cent of companies believed they had lost a customer because of inaccurate data. The most common problem caused is sending mailings to the wrong address, and this includes both email and direct mail. The second most common problem is sending multiple mailings to the same customer.

No one wants to deal with data clean up. If you’re lucky, your email service provider keeps your lists tidy for you. But if your company doesn’t have a large email service provider, then you’re probably stuck with messy lists.  Your sales team doesn’t understand why the list that looks like several thousand people is actually only a handful of engaged people, a handful that gets smaller as you keep sending to those unengaged groups. If you are stuck doing it manually, I advise you just grin and bear it. In fact, it should be the beginning of your relationship with a new client or sales team  – the list cleaning should come before anything else, because that great content won’t be reaching anyone if you don’t attend to the lists first.

Once you’ve got some nice cleaned lists, it’s time to focus on relevance, content and timing. There are tons of articles out there with the most recent best practices, so I won’t go into those. However, I found some noteworthy ideas from Listrak’s White Paper “7 Reasons Your Messages Are Missing the Inbox”.   They advise marketers to  target their best customers to help them rebuild their reputation, something I had never thought of doing.

  •  Here’s how they say to do it:
    •  Entice them to click links
    • Ask them to click the “Not Spam” button with an emotional call-to-action.  Try subject lines such as “We’re in trouble and need your help!” or “Attention Gmail User:  Please Help!”
    • Set up an automated re-engagement campaign to non-openers
    • Perhaps the first email includes your very best offer and uses a subject line such as, “We miss you & want you back”
    • Your second email might ask, “Would you like to continue receiving promotional emails from us?” and includes the option to say Yes or No, as well as the option to change the frequency of messages
    • A third email tells non-openers that it’s their “Last chance to save” or “We hate to see you go.”  Ask them to verify their subscriptions, and tell them that if you don’t receive a response to this email, they will be permanently unsubscribed from the list.  Position a “verify your subscription now” button centrally within the message body
    • The last message is your “Breakup and Goodbye.”  Tell them that you’re  sorry to see them go and that their accounts have been suspended, all while providing a way to re-subscribe.
    • Purge everyone from your list who hasn’t opened within one year—bigger isn’t always better!



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