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January 8, 2009

Get Your Email Marketing House In Order

IS IT JUST ME — or is it time again to pull out the time management videos, newfangled task management systems and motivational tapes that have been gathering dust in the center console of our automobiles?  Every Jan. 1, I get the urge to “refocus and realign” my personal and professional goals.  I think the self-inspection is healthy and helps set the tone for a productive start to the New Year.

Not surprisingly, some of my reflections applied to email marketing, so I’m presenting them here to help you get your programs on the right track in 2009.

1.    Lower the cholesterol. Apparently, our blood carries good and bad cholesterol.  I continually struggle with the bad one because I LOVE the stuff that introduces it into my system — mainly red meats, fatty salad dressings and alcohol.  So, this year I am going to lay off those things.

As an email marketer, the lifeblood of your programs is your list, and I know many of you have some really bad cholesterol in there.  I am not talking about the obvious stuff like hard-bounced email addresses — I am speaking of those members of your list who simply do not offer any value and may eventually harm you.  These are the recipients who have not opened an email in three months and have not clicked on a campaign since this time last year.

You know how they got there — an email append program here, an affiliate marketing program there, an import from the sales force automation tool.  Just like the blue cheese dressing, these list growth tactics are hard to avoid and can negatively affect the health of your email house file.  Here’s the good news: many companies I have worked with have instituted a “treatment program” for their email lists.  They review activity metrics and segment inactive recipients from their active file.  They mail this inactive list on a different IP address (limiting the likelihood that this less-engaged audience will negatively impact email delivery) and they craft different messages for the inactive file (increasing the chance of reengagement).

So, while I work on lowering my cholesterol by cutting back on the things I love to eat, you can maintain the health of your file and continue to “eat” whatever you want.  Sounds like a commercial featuring Dan Marino that I saw this past weekend!

2.    Try new things — move away from the hum-drum! Another New Year’s observation: it seems my wife and I enjoy our routine a little too much!  Dinner with the kids Friday night, sushi and a movie Saturday night, kids’ hockey game and football Sunday… wash, rinse repeat. Not this year!  I am introducing new things into the routine, and you should be doing the same thing with your email marketing programs.

JupiterResearch has reported that marketers who integrate email communications with the print channel should expect nearly 3X improvement in program performance.  If integrated print can have that impact, let’s consider for a moment the possible impact of leveraging new digital channels that are becoming more accessible and useful for both marketers and consumers.

On a panel at MediaPost’s Email Insider Summit in December, Chip House of Exact Target explained that mobile is becoming an excellent way to move an off-line conversation online.  The concept is simple — allow consumers to text an email address to a short code found in a magazine, on a billboard or on TV.  As consumers become more familiar with SMS and devices make it easier to leverage, the mobile channel becomes a place where we can engage a consumer and begin a digital dialogue.  This is something many marketing organizations have tried over the past couple of years, but I think we are getting to a point where we can seriously leverage mobile as an integrated acquisition channel.

Now, what about social networking?  I know, it’s “all-the-rage,” but in this area as well, we are starting to see opportunities to integrate social networks with email programs that may really enhance the already viral nature of our channel.  Can your recipients immediately post email offers to their Facebook pages?  Can they easily forward the same content to members of their Gmail and Yahoo address books?  Empower this behavior (AND TRACK IT), and you will undoubtedly be thrilled with the results.   So, email is cool and direct mail is reliable, but you owe it to yourself and your company this year to experiment a little with some new channels.

That wraps up my two main goals. What about you? How many do you have for you and your marketing team?  Please share your goals here on the Email Insider Blog, and we promise to help keep you on track!

Ryan Deutsch is senior director of market strategy at StrongMail Systems, a leading provider of commercial-grade solutions for marketing and transactional email.

2 Responses to “Get Your Email Marketing House In Order

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