Strategic Email Marketing Programs - BlueHornet Whitepaper


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Strategic Email Marketing Programs - BlueHornet Whitepaper

  1. 1. BlueHornet Whitepaper Strategic Email Marketing Programs Advanced messaging tactics proven to drive better results and increase ROI. Executive Summary Nearly all interactive marketers use email, and they expect it to increase in effectiveness over the next two years. But research indicates that most email campaigns don’t deliver expected results, leaving marketers wondering how they can increase the strategic value of their email programs to close the gap between expectations and actual results. This whitepaper highlights some of the industry research on strategic email marketing maturity and provides detailed explanations of several advanced email marketing programs proven to increase email’s effectiveness and drive specific business objectives. Page 1 1 ©2007 BlueHornet Networks, Inc. A wholly owned subsidiary of Digital River, Inc. | owned subsidiary of Digital River, Inc. | ©2011 BlueHornet Networks, Inc. A wholly (619) 295-1856 |
  2. 2. Table of Contents4 . . . . . State of the Industry: Email Marketing Maturity4 . . . . . . . . Figure 1: Three Phases of Email Marketing Maturity5 . . . . . Getting More Strategic5 . . . . . . . . Figure 2: The Customer Lifecycle6 . . . . . Lifecycle Development6 . . . . . Transactional Emails6 . . . . . Segmentation7 . . . . . Opt-Down7 . . . . . . . . Figure 3: Example Opt-Down Preference Center7 . . . . . Welcome Series8 . . . . . Abandoned Cart8 . . . . . . . . Figure 4: Abandoned Cart Program Anatomy8 . . . . . Social Email9 . . . . Lead Nurture9 . . . . . . . Figure 6: Lead Nurture Program Anatomy9 . . . . Personas10 . . . . . Win-Back10 . . . . . . . . Offer-Based10 . . . . . . . . Content-Based10 . . . . . . . Figure 5: Example Content-based Win-Back Program11 . . . . Engagement11 . . . . Video in Email12 . . . . Text-to-Join12 . . . . . . . Figure 7: Chuck E. Cheese’s Text-to-Join Program12 . . . . Conclusion Page 3 ©2011 BlueHornet Networks, Inc. A wholly owned subsidiary of Digital River, Inc. |
  3. 3. State of the Industry: Email Marketing MaturityResearch indicates that a majority of email programs are not yet sophisticated, and major brands still fail to measure thelong-term benefits of their email programs. Figure 1 from MarketingSherpa’s 2011 Email Marketing Benchmark guideindicates that only 37% of email programs are in the strategic phase of maturity, with half of organizations “stuck” inbetween the trial and strategic phases.It’s important to evaluate your existing email program and determine your current phase of email marketing maturityin order to find out where to start making improvements to your email programs. Some advanced programs should beimplemented before others, so outline the business objectives you want to achieve using email, and choose the bestprograms to fit your current needs based on the results they drive.Figure 1: Three Phases of Email Marketing Maturity Three Phases of Email Marketing Maturity Trial Phase Transition Phase Strategic Phase Organization does not have Organization has an informal Organization has a formal process a process or guidelines for process with a few guidelines they with thorough guidelines they performing email margeting. sporadically perform. routinely perform. Chart: Half of all organizations stuck between Trial Phase and Strategic Phase of maturity We do not have process or guidelines for performing Trial email marketing Phase 14% Strategic We have a formal process Phase with thorough guidelines we routinely perform 37% We have an informal process with a few guidelines we Transition sporadically perfom Phase 49% Source: MarketingSherpa Email Marketing Benchmark Survey Methodology: Fielded Sep 2010, N=1,115
  4. 4. Getting More StrategicThroughout the development of email programs, it’s essential to move customers through the customer lifecycle -- fromacquisition to brand advocacy. Email marketing plays an important role in an effective multi-channel marketing strategythat can help create brand advocacy by engaging customers and driving them to higher lifetime value through increasedrelevancy.While strategic email marketing programs drive customer loyalty, and ultimately, more revenue, it can be difficult andtime-consuming to execute these programs. We recommend that you take a phased approach. Make a commitment toimplement 2-3 new programs each year. Over time, you’ll form a sophisticated email program that will become a powerfulasset to your bottom line.Each strategic email program covered in this whitepaper targets customers at different points in the customer lifecycle asshown in Figure 2.Figure 2: The Customer Lifecycle Aquisition Subscribers Converters Loyalists Influencers Personas Win-back Social Email Lead NurtureLifetime Value Lifecycle Development Opt-Down Engagement Segmentation Transactional Abandoned Cart Text to Email Welcome Video in Email RelevancyLet’s take a closer look at some of these programs and how they can improve email’s impact on your overallmarketing goals. Page 5 ©2011 BlueHornet Networks, Inc. A wholly owned subsidiary of Digital River, Inc. |
  5. 5. Lifecycle DevelopmentDeveloping programs that meet the needs of the consumer based on their position in the purchase lifecycle is vital to aneffective email channel. During the lifecycle development process, it’s important to implement programs based on existingengagement and customer need. From a newly acquired subscriber, to a loyalist or an influencer, each stage must haveprograms that speak specifically to each consumer.So how do you determine the stage in which your subscribers currently sit within the lifecycle? Here, it’s all about data, sowork with your email service provider to integrate your commerce, social media, mobile and web analytics data and buildout complete subscriber profiles. Once you have this data funneling into your email program, you can create segmentsbased on activity distinctive to each stage of the customer lifecycle.To identify subscribers in the converter stage, for instance, you’ll want to pull a record of customers whose email opensand clicks have resulted in them making a purchase on your site.Taking a phased approach is often beneficial - weighing the impact of each initiative against another to determine priorityand developing programs that contribute to lifetime value and relevancy over time.Transactional EmailsOn average, transactional messages represent about 4% of a company’s email volume, can have 60% open rates, and canproduce 30% of the total revenue for an email program. With these numbers, it’s surprising that many companies don’ttake advantage of this prime revenue source.While transactional content such as order confirmations and shipping notifications should be the central focus oftransactional emails, companies often include a small portion of up-sell or cross-promotional content – roughly 20% inaccordance with the “80/20 rule.” By incorporating relevant product recommendations, a newsletter opt-in call to action, orlinks to your social media profiles, transactional emails can drive incremental revenue and move customers in the converterstage of the lifecycle toward the loyalist and influencer stages.It’s important to understand many interconnected components that should be considered when developing a transactionalemail program, including CAN-SPAM requirements, third party dynamic content integrations, HTML vs. text, sending times,etc. This information is available in another BlueHornet whitepaper titled “Best Practices for Transactional Emails”.SegmentationIf you’re working towards a more sophisticated email channel but don’t know which new program to implement first,a segmentation program can be a powerful starting point. Relevant email content is integral to higher retention andconversion of customers as well as deliverability within many ISPs. In order to increase relevancy, marketers must useavailable data to segment subscribers and deliver the right message, at the right time, with the right content.Basic segmentation starts at the acquisition stage when customers fill in their contact information and select theircommunication preferences. Each of these data points can be used to message subscribers uniquely, such as state orzip code to send relevant information about brick-and-mortar locations in their area. Once customers have signed upto receive emails, engagement metrics like opens and clicks can be used to segment subscribers further based on theirinterest level with the brand.But advanced email marketing moves beyond stated preference and email response data and should incorporate anyinformation that the marketer can gather about the consumer over the course of the lifecycle. Data integrations withwebsite activity and e-commerce transactions can be tied into subscriber profiles, and from this information, marketers canbuild out more intricate segments and develop content that is more targeted towards specific consumers.
  6. 6. Opt-DownStudies have shown that the top two reasons for a subscriber opting out are too many emails and irrelevant emails.Historically, opt-out mechanisms have served to simply remove someone from a list completely. Recently, strategy hasshifted toward a concept called “opt-down.”Opt-down gives the consumer choices about the emails they get. For example, they may change the cadence of emails theyreceive (1 per week, 3 per month) or change their topic preferences (more information about X and Y, and nothing about Z).Given a choice, marketers would rather communicate more relevant information to a subscriber than lose them completely.Your subscriber preference center is the key component of a successful opt-down program, so you need to decide whatoptions you’re going to give your consumers. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to this type of program, but generallyspeaking, providing options for frequency and content is a great start. Once your preference center has been updated,change your unsubscribe link verbiage in the footer of your emails to something like “Unsubscribe or change yourpreferences,” or provide two separate links altogether.Figure 3: Example Opt-Down Preference CenterWelcome SeriesA strong relationship with customers is critical to the success of email programs, so it’s important to start the customerrelationship on the right track. A welcome email series helps to begin building that relationship.When considering how to put together the strategy for a welcome series, think about short and useful information that willactually benefit the customer. Do you have a niche product? Or maybe your company has a great story to tell? Sometimesit’s difficult to communicate that story in a single welcome email. Here, a welcome series can help. A welcome series is asimple way to educate your subscribers on the value of your brand, company and products.This series of emails is sent when a subscriber joins the email program. They should strengthen the subscriber’s knowledgeof your company and their relationship with the company from the start. A welcome series generally follows theseguidelines: • Educational- or relationship-based • Not too sales focused • Highlights a product, service, common problem, or brand value • Contains more copy than a promotional email • Look and feel is reflective of the brandFor example, a cosmetic retailer would like to share information about their products and services. Through a welcomeseries, they develop two emails that talk about how the products are made, the charities that benefit from certainpurchases, or how the founder uses the product. Page 7 ©2011 BlueHornet Networks, Inc. A wholly owned subsidiary of Digital River, Inc. |
  7. 7. Abandoned CartAbandoned cart programs are remarketing communications designed to recover lost revenue by online shoppers who additems to their shopping cart, but do not end up completing the transaction. By integrating online shopping behavioral datawith email marketing customer profiles, retailers are able to send targeted messages to customers who leave their siteswith items left in their carts.Abandoned cart strategies have changed over time. In the past, marketers avoided the “big brother” mentality by sendingemails 1-3 days after the cart was abandoned. Today, messages are sent instantly and incorporate a more relational tone,which minimizes the “big brother” feeling and resonates better with consumers, leading to higher conversions.An abandoned cart program may seem difficult to implement if you, like many other retailers, use separate vendors foryour e-commerce transactions and your email marketing communications. However, leading providers like SeeWhy are ableto integrate commerce data points with your email subscriber base, making it easy to set up and automate abandoned cartprograms.For example, cart abandonment service provider SeeWhy has seen between 15% - 50% of carts recovered when theuser is contacted within minutes of the abandonment using a relational strategy– answering further product questions,providing site assistance, offering discounts, etc. This approach should be considered when putting together the strategyfor an abandoned cart program.Figure 4: Abandoned Cart Program AnatomySocial EmailSocial email combines preference and activity data from both email and social media channels to provide a morecomprehensive view of your customers that can be used to increase relevancy and drive deeper engagement with yourbrand’s social influencers.A social email program can also drive acquisitions on both channels – social media can be used to acquire new emailsubscribers, and email marketing can drive social media engagement. Including social media profile links within your emailtemplate or incorporating an email sign-up widget on your Facebook page are two ways to build your audience on eachchannel.By integrating engagement metrics on both channels, social email allows companies to identify their social influencers andmessage them uniquely based on their social media preferences and behaviors. What began as “forward to a friend” hasevolved into “share with your network” – a new component of email we’ve seen emerging in the past year that has provedto be an effective tactic for identifying a brand’s social influencers.Building segments based on email-driven social media engagement allows you to target subscribers in the Influencer stageof the customer lifecycle with purchase-driven messages they’ll want to share, allowing you to extend your brand reachand increase the ROI of both channels.
  8. 8. Lead NurtureLead nurture campaigns (also called drip campaigns) are used to automate communication with customers in an effortto keep the sender “top of mind” with the customer. In a B2B application, companies use lead nurture programs tocommunicate with sales leads in situations where the sales cycle is longer than a typical B2C sale – sometimes up to 30,60, or 90+ days. Lead nurture campaigns offer an effective way of communicating with customers over a longer period oftime. Rather than a heavy “buy” message, lead nurture programs generally take an informational approach that relies oncontent marketing information, with the end goal being to enable prospects to make an educated purchase decision whenthey are ready to buy.Lead nurture programs aren’t limited to B2B communications, though. Think about consumer products that typicallyrequire a longer period of purchase decision making, such as cars, homes, televisions, or vacations. With a lead nurtureprogram, you can help consumers make decisions on their future purchases by sending informative content related to theproduct over the course of several weeks.For example, a consumer electronics company notices that consumers shopping for flat panel televisions usually visit theirsite multiple times in a 30 day period before making a purchase. By developing a lead nurture email stream for theseconsumers around the best televisions the site has to offer, including user reviews, consumer electronics reports, andbenefits of each type of television technology, the company can automatically deploy one of these messages every weekfor the next three or four weeks, depending on the typical sales cycle. By the end of the program, these consumers shouldfeel well-informed and confident that they’re choosing the best product to meet their needs.Figure 6: Lead Nurture Program Anatomy Product Highlight #2 (*With Offer) 1 Wait 2* 7 Days If lead clicks + Send Product Send Product Intro Highlight #1Subscriber Wait Wait 1 1 Day 7 Days Added Product Highlight #2 If lead doesn’t click 1 Wait 2 14 DaysPersonasPersona development is the process by which a marketer aggregates the typical characteristics of people that use or buytheir products and services to better recognize ideal customers and reach them based on those characteristics. It canplay a significant part in determining the voice and message that is used to communicate with consumers. Knowing theconsumer persona and their motivations allows for relationship building and more relevant messaging.Different communication methods are used for each persona to get the consumer to convert. For example,communications would look different when emailing an “impulse shopper” vs. a “loyal shopper;” or, a shopper whoconsistently pays full price vs. a shopper who only purchases with a discount.To develop a persona program, you need to identify trends in the email consumption and shopping habits of yoursubscriber base, and build segments within your email database around those trends that are consistently updated withaccurate data. Once you have those segments in place, you can message to these persona groups uniquely to drive deeperengagement and higher ROI within your email program. Page 9 ©2011 BlueHornet Networks, Inc. A wholly owned subsidiary of Digital River, Inc. |
  9. 9. Win-BackAttrition is a challenge for many companies. Customers abandon email programs for a variety of reasons, so it’s importantto put programs in place to prevent this attrition and minimize its impact on revenue.Win-back, or re-engagement programs, provide a cost-effective way for companies to contact both long- and short-termattrited customers by using targeted messaging to re-engage them. Successful communication with these consumers willbe important to the longevity of the retained customer.There are two major types of win-back programs to consider: offer-based and content based. Offer-Based For e-commerce sites, offer-based win-back programs provide the consumer escalating value offers that are not normally available to the consumer. The end goal is to make the customer an offer they can’t turn down, with the most aggressive incentive occurring in the last email. When creating an offer-based win-back program, it’s important to limit the duration of the promotion to encourage a sense of urgency. Also, make the offer codes exclusive to the individual to prevent coupon sites from picking up the offer. Content-Based For content or non-sales sites that offer articles, loyalty or rewards programs, or free services, these win-back programs offer email subscribers articles or value propositions to re-activate their interaction with the site or service. The key to success of the program is relevancy, so speak to topics that may have prompted subscribers to join in the first place. Additionally, value propositions, like a program or site re-launch, should be done in the first email of the series. Figure 3 demonstrates an example content-based win-back program from, the nation’s largest job search site and most active community of full-time and part-time hourly workers.Figure 5: Example Content-based Win-Back ProgramWorking with the BlueHornet strategy and creative services teams, created a win-back campaigncomprising a series of three emails designed to re-engage subscribers who had not opened, clicked, or submitted anonline application in three months. By implementing this program, was able to re-capture over 10%of the initial target population back into their email program. If subscriber opens or clicks Re-activated Segment Re-introduced into regular cadence of emails No activity (opens or clicks)for past 9 months If no If no If no activity activity activity Day 1 Day 6 Day 9 In-active Segment Isolated these subscribers and only send emails to them on a limited basis
  10. 10. Here are some additional tips on setting up your win-back programs: • Keep the email design/content short and simple with clear calls to action. • Rest the audience that you are trying to win back for 21 - 30 days prior to the launch of the program. • Keep your win-back audience out of the main email cadence while the program is running.If you cannot win the customer back, then you have a few options. Based on the increasing focus of ISPs on engagement,you want to tread carefully in emailing customers if they are not engaging through email. Here are some suggestions thatyou can use for those that don’t re-activate: • Isolate the inactive and send less often. When you do send, make sure it’s highly relevant. • Analyze customer activity across your other channels. • Evaluate response activity across Facebook, in-store, loyalty programs, etc. • This information can help you determine the most engaging content to send to less active subscribers. • Look at the purchasing/browsing frequency of attrited customers. • What are the similarities? Habits? • Did they join at the same time or through the same source?You may discover that your email program is prompting desirable activity across other channels. So don’t lose sight of youroverall business objectives.EngagementResearch shows that when it comes to email, many marketers resort to what’s simple and easy - batch and blast. We knowit’s tough to avoid the batch and blast mentality, but email actually performs better and provides the highest ROI whenyou successfully connect and engage with the consumer by sending the right email at the right time.When we talk about engagement programs, we commonly look to create programs that strengthen the relationshipwith consumers. This doesn’t always include messaging intended to sell them something. Often, it involves contentlike additional product information, surveys, information on charitable activities – content that encourages building arelationship.Engagement programs add value by keeping your subscribers interested in your company regardless of what it is yousell, and if well-executed, these types of programs can move your customers towards brand advocacy. Rememberthe customer lifecycle model mentioned earlier: The ultimate goal of your email marketing efforts should be to movecustomers from the acquisition to the influencer stage, so think of an engagement program as a tool to ensure steadyprogress from one stage to the next.Video in EmailVideo in email is quickly evolving into a valuable engagement tactic. However, many marketers are unclear on its potential,and it remains a relatively untapped opportunity because of past challenges with available technologies, email clientlimitations, and deliverability. The “newness” of video in email can work in marketers’ favor – due in part to its less prolificpresence in email. Video in email provides the potential for increased subscriber interaction, viral growth, and a highlydifferentiated inbox experience.Video content on the web enhances the online shopping experience by providing detailed product views and has proven toincrease conversion rates, so it makes sense that incorporating in-email video can drive equally positive results for emailengagement.Video content providers such as Liveclicker have developed specific technology designed for in-email video using HTML5supported by all major email clients. To account for rendering differences among mail clients, Liveclicker detects eachsubscriber’s mail client in real time as the email is opened and delivers a compatible video asset automatically. By simplyuploading a video to the Liveclicker platform and copying HTML5 code generated by the solution into your emails, videocontent has never been easier to include in your email campaigns. Page 11 ©2011 BlueHornet Networks, Inc. A wholly owned subsidiary of Digital River, Inc. |
  11. 11. Text-to-JoinConsumers, more than ever, are on the move and active in their lifestyle. Because of this, email acquisition is also shiftingfrom traditional methods like point-of-sale capture, handwritten sign-up forms, and website capture, to more mobileacquisition tactics.With the increase in adoption of SMS (text) messaging, marketers have the opportunity to collect information fromconsumers on the spot. By texting their email address to a short code provided by a mobile partner, marketers are ableto collect accurate contact information instantly, and send follow up messaging instantly in return. This means of datacollection has various uses -- events, signage, commercials and other mediums where the consumer is on the move andmore apt to subscribe via mobile than through other means. Figure 7 below highlights an example of a text-to-join programwe developed with SmartReply for Chuck E. Cheese’s. Figure 7: Chuck E. Cheese’s Text-to-Join ProgramConclusionAs marketers continue to invest in email marketing, it will be increasingly important for the email channel to deliver higherresponse rates. Strategic email marketing programs engage customers at specific points in the lifecycle and move themtoward brand advocacy, but it can be difficult and time-consuming to implement these types of programs. Taking a phasedapproach will help you identify the programs that will make the biggest impact on your bottom line, and over time, asyou adopt more advanced messaging tactics, your email program will evolve into a key revenue driver and asset to yourbusiness.
  12. 12. If you’re one of many email marketers wondering how to increase the strategic value of your email marketingcampaigns with limited internal resources and budget challenges, we’re here to help. We know how time-consumingand complicated building out many of these programs can be, so we’ve recently launched a new feature called StrategyBlueprints designed to ease the transition towards more strategic email marketing initiatives.BlueHornet Strategy Blueprints are pre-built email program creation wizards that allow you to quickly piece togetheradvanced email programs through a simple step-by-step process. As you create and implement individual componentsof each program, the Blueprint will automatically track and indicate which pieces are complete and which ones you stillneed to do to complete your strategy. BlueHornet’s Strategy Blueprint programs are easy to implement, automated,and repeatable, allowing you to unlock the potential of your email channel and drive higher ROI.Additionally, BlueHornet’s Strategic Services team is available for short or long-term engagements to help you optimizeyour current email program or launch new email campaigns designed with your specific business objectives in mind.Contact us today at or (866) 586-3755 to learn more.BlueHornet2355 Northside Drive, Suite 250San Diego, CA 92108 586-3755Twitter: @bluehornetemail Page 13 ©2011 BlueHornet Networks, Inc. A wholly owned subsidiary of Digital River, Inc. |