Email Thursday – 5 Ways to Increase Your Email Marketing Profitability

By Nik

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Looking for new ways to increase the profitability of your email program?

There’s a point with an email marketing program where most people feel like the needle is no longer moving. That’s okay, it happens to all of us – unless you have a plan, that is. Today, we’ll discuss 5 ways for you to jumpstart profitable changes in your email program that can be baked into your approach over time. Here’s a suggestion: do all of these suggestions, bringing one into your program each month – by Holiday Season of 2012, you’ll be rocking and rolling with some stellar ROI numbers tied to your email program.

#5:

For starters, we hit on a basic: metric boosting. The metrics that hold the key to your profitability are % of sent emails that hit the inbox, % of emails received that are opened, and then the click/conversion metrics related to those who open. The point being, each step can either open many doors or close many doors for the next step.

So, starting at the beginning, get more in the inbox… there are two ways to do this. The one that impacts profitability the most is process-oriented. Make sure that you do intense QA deliverability on your sends. Test on everything from AOL to Gmail. Make sure you don’t hit spam traps. If you do, test alternate subject lines, reducing content, adding content – or the hardest of all, trying to pin-point a phrase that is triggering a spam trap. It’s not easy, but if you do it yourself, it’s cheap. If it’s included in a campaign management service you pay for, like ours at Exclusive Concepts, it’ll be well worth it. You can also influence inbox metrics by utilizing an ESP that has clean IP blocks and policies to keep spammers off the same IP blocks that you’re using for your email sends. Bronto is a great example of an ESP that does this properly.

Next, get the most from the inbox… if you’re in, make it count. Start with your pick up line – that’s your subject. If you’re not testing subject lines against one another in A/B tests, then you better get used to rejection. Testing subject lines over time will give you a strong understanding of what gets your audience’s interest. Without increasing any costs, this process can help you reap higher revenue rewards over time. The same goes for A/B testing your email body. You don’t need to test two distinctly different emails against one another to do an A/B; its actually quite a bit more useful to just test a small change, like mentioning the price of a product, versus how much you’ll save on a product. These small changes will help you develop a more optimized approach over time.

So why focus on boosting metrics? (1) No increase in costs for process changes and (2) This will have a direct impact on your revenue

#4:

Next, try a bit of espionage. If you’re targeting an audience and you know who already targets the same audience with a great deal of success – spy, copy and cheat.

If you have a competitor that has a great email program, sign up and stay tuned. Here, the example is GNC – a great competitor to watch if you sell nutritional supplements. By checking out GNC’s newsletter, you’d see what type of deals their customers respond to – what products are worthy of being highlighted – and what frequencies, newsletter lengths and graphical focuses help pay the bills for your competitors.

Don’t stop there – competitors know how to get a shopping response from your marketplace, but they’re not alone in creating the appetite that characterizes your audience. Make sure you also subscribe to publications that are the tastemakers for your market. Here, we see Men’s Health. If you’re selling what they’re recommending, then you’re in business baby! The affect a publication can have on shopping trends is enormous. For products that are showcased on Oprah, for example, there’s a rippling (often crippling) affect on the sales of what she promotes – this phenomenon is called “the Oprah Effect”.

Why spy with your little eye? (1) Your competitors have made mistakes that you don’t need to make – follow them and you’ll already be closer to the light, and (2) They are setting the trends and creating a pulse for your audience – it would be savvy to stay savvy.

#3:

Re-Send a little. If you really want to make one campaign count, then put the “re-send” spin on your approach. There’s nothing like a little bit of repetition to get your point across – case-in-point, you can get your point across easier with a little repetition.

Re-sending it easy, and you can cut some easy costs while boosting revenue. You cut costs in two ways – you don’t need to create new creative for your second send, since you’re only slightly modifying your message in the re-send. Secondly, you don’t need to send the second campaign to your entire list: only to those that you strategically believe will respond to the second send.

The secret is testing out criteria for who gets the resend, and what the re-send says differently from the original. In regards to criteria – you may want to re-send to people who didn’t open the first time – that way, you get the most people possible looking at an email, even if they weren’t that interested the first time is hit the inbox. Or – you may simply want to re-send to people who opened the first time, but haven’t bought yet – you can then target your message to get them over the hump and into buying mode – a last minute discount, or a message regarding the nearing end of a sale can be very effective.

Why send again? (1) You’ll cut creative costs for an entire email broadcast and (2) You’ll get a ton more attention from one campaign and can maximize it’s effectiveness. It’ll make you want to send again and again.

#2:

Hit your loyalists. Loyalist are not losers that are obsessed with you – they’re your army, your missionaries, your brand’s many faces. If you don’t take the opportunity to do something special with your most loyal group – then you’re missing out on some profitable opportunities.

If 10% of your email list contributes to 80% of your sales, then you’re in for some really great profit numbers when you target your loyalists – while cutting 90% of send costs, you’ll only be sacrificing 20% of your sales. That would take a program with a typical 100% ROI to a program with a 1500% ROI!

At the same time, it gives you the opportunity to speak to your loyalists, knowing that they’ll be receptive to your message. There’s nothing more demoralizing than spilling your guts to an audience that couldn’t care less about what you have to say. It’s why headliners always get the greatest roars from their audience, while openers sing to crossed arms and sleepy yawns.

So why target your loyalists? (1) You’ll reduce costs dramatically while barely impacting revenue and (2) You’ll get the chance to reward loyalty and rabble-rouse your evangelists so that they can go out and spread more word-of-mouth for your brand.

Finally, #1:

Use auto-responders. Imagine if a manager at Best Buy personally thanked every individual as they left the store – asking them for feedback and thanking them for their patronage – that would be quite an endearing experience. Well – you can get robots to do that for you!

Auto-responders are set up in ESPs to be triggered off events, like a purchase of a product from your online store. They can have timers set to them, they can be coded to include personal messages like “Thank you Sally…” or “You purchased the following 4 products – please review them”. When you fully utilize their dynamic content capabilities, set up well-timed message sets, and utilize properly targeted creative and design – you add a highly functional, very cost-effective layer to your email marketing program.

The math is great on auto-responders: the emails are only sent out one at a time, and only to the most qualified recipients of the message – plus, because of the personalization of the messages, you get stellar engagement rates. The impact is equally as compelling: you are able to replicate successful messaging without any heavy lifting after you’ve set them up. They’re a pretty smart way to boost your email program’s ROI.

Why use auto-responders: (1) Low send volumes, highly qualified readers and very target messages – and (2) You get to replicate success without any duplication of effort.

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