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
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.
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.
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 SnagAJob.com, 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, SnagAJob.com 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, SnagAJob.com 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 SnagAJob.com 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
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.