Email marketers don’t have time for shiny new things

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A new article on Martech.org says that you can easily figure out if you’re wasting your time chasing the bright-and-shiny.

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The author says that the perennial “bright-and-shiny” disease can be just as contagious as you-know-what. None of us is immune to the rush of discovering a tool that will magically solve all of our problems. In fact, we’re just as susceptible to the quest for bright-and-shiny things now as we were 20 years ago when email technology took its first great leaps forward. Although, 20years ago, everything was bright-and-shiny. Today, many more outside things distract us — new privacy regulations, changing technology limitations, new challenges to customer engagement, changing customer sentiment, and more.

The key to every digital job ismaking sure everything you do, from your strategies to your tools to your processes, helps you achieve your goals, but how can you be sure you’re not chasing the wrong thing when all the shiny things are temptingly arrayed in front of you all the time? These three questions can help you evaluate your options:

1. Do I have a clear and defined key performance indicator?
So many businesses are driven by revenue. The measurements might differ by industry, but they all roll up into revenue. As emailers, if revenue were our only KPI, we’d all be blasting out (for the record, I hate this term) emails twice a day, every day. As email marketers, we need to have a greater sense of purpose. While your organization focuses on revenue, your goal has to be different. Is it click-throughs? Repeat customers? Leads? Will it achieve a goal better than doing nothing?

The author says they measure every idea or opportunity against goals to clarify priorities. Will the needle move forwards or backward? Will it deliver a long-term benefit or a short-term boost that fades fast? Have you defined how you’ll achieve that KPI? Do you measure it accurately? Many marketers don’t, or they don’t account for other factors.

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2. Is it worth the expense?
One of the author’s large enterprise clients told them she was thinking about adding a service to her email program. This service charged an insane amount of money to do a proof of concept. My first question to her: “How does this affect your profitability?” Now, email is still cheaper than most other channels while delivering higher returns, even with add-on services. But those costs can add up quickly. One often-overlooked point is whether a bright-and-shiny add-on will be profitable based on the customers who respond to your campaign. That’s because your costs aren’t factored on the people who don’t respond.

It might be billed as adding two cents to every email, and that might not seem like much at first. But the actual cost could be nine to 10 cents per email. That’s because you paid for everyone to get that email, but not everybody will respond. So you assign that cost to the people who did respond. You have to measure the response and decide if it helped you achieve your KPI.

3. Does it scale?
Ten years ago, the industry discussion was all about getting a fast boost on performance. Mostly because it was fun to talk about, “OMG, did you try this?” We were talking about email hacks, like using subject lines that said, “Don’t open this email!” (my personal favorite.) Another popular hack: Sending fake apology emails. One brand replaced its regular HTML email template with a text-only message. It got huge results that one time. So, of course, everybody else tried it, and the law of diminishing returns kicked in soon after. All those short-term gains turned into long-time losers because subscribers got used to them. When you go for a short-term boost, you end up feeding the attention monster over and over again.

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