The latest report from E-consultancy shows that 7 in 10 companies use email marketing as the most powerful way to engage with their customers.
The E-consultancy/cScape Online Customer Engagement Survey Report 2008 found that the overwhelming majority of companies surveyed (69%) agree that email newsletters have resulted in a tangible improvement in customer engagement.
Hollie Williams, Client Strategy Consultant at Adestra says: “Despite the growth of social media networks, blogging, video, microsites etc – this report clearly shows the best way to really engage with your customers is via email marketing. Timely, relevant and targeted newsletters help build long term loyalty as part of your online strategy.”
The future of email looks promising too: in terms of spending over the next 12 months, the report found there will be most investment in email newsletters, with 59% of respondents saying that their organisations will increase their spending in this area.
Linus Gregoriadis, Head of Research, E-consultancy adds: “Done properly, email marketing is a proven way of boosting customer loyalty and getting a tangible return on investment. Our research shows that email newsletters stand head and shoulders above other tactics as the most effective and tangible way of driving online engagement.”
The success of email marketing as a customer engagement tool is due to a number of key reasons: email is a personal medium and once customers have opted in they are interested in receiving material from your company; it is ideal in a multi-channel scenario working alongside direct mail, call centre and website strategies; and it allows techniques such as behavioural targeting to be used that improve relevancy. In addition, using accurate tracking means the established metrics such as open rates and click-throughs enable marketers to demonstrate the effectiveness, and even ROI, of each campaign.
However it must be remembered that 43% of marketers cannot track the ROI from their email marketing – according to E-Consultancy/Adestra Email Marketing Industry Census 2008. Without accurate tracking, testing programs cannot be measured. Without measurement, improving your email marketing will always be slow progress.
Top 10 tips for effective email newsletters:
1. Segment, target and test – the golden rules
2. When to send – test different times of the week and follow-up non-opens/non-clicks/abandoned baskets
3. Implement ROI tracking – it may be simpler than you imagined!
4. Before sending – select relevant and informative subject line
5. Make call to action clear
6. Content – place key messages above the fold, not image heavy, keep it simple
7. Focus on each step: deliverability, opens, click-throughs and conversions
8. Data hygiene – it’s extremely important, keep it updated regularly
9. Set clear objectives for each campaign
10. Monitor user behaviour – even simple split tests can boost response
Co-registration could be the answer for you…
What exactly is Co-registration?
A textbook definition would be along the lines of : a negotiated arrangement in which companies collecting registration information from users (such as e-mail sign-up forms and shopping checkout process) include a separate box for users to check if they would also like to be added to a specific third-party mailing list.
So users opt in to receive marketing communications from multiple companies – usually complementary products – eg offering magazine subscriptions when you buy a product/sign up to a newsletter in the same industry sector.
The partnership is simple to set up and can be integrated into your current registration process. Setting up a co-registration partnership is easy – one site collects the new registrations for its partner by either adding a separate form to the registration process or an option to opt in. Data can then be double posted to yourself and your partner usually on a daily or weekly basis, whichever suits.
How does it work?
One way to boost your email database using co-registration is using someone else’s newsletter registration to acquire new members. For example, when a visitor to your partner’s website registers for their newsletter, they are offered the option to sign up for newsletters from your website. So because they’ve already expressed an interest in a newsletter, they are quite likely to sign up for an additional one so long as it’s relevant to them. A promotion or incentive is a great way to encourage people to sign up – when you consider the lifetime value of these potential customers, and the cost of acquiring new business elsewhere, this could be an ideal answer.
Make sure you enter into a co-registration deal with a company who targets a customer base with a similar profile to yours, but isn’t directly competitive (clearly your competitors would provide the ideal customer base, but that’s not really feasible!). Consider looking for complementary organisations and brands. One sector, for example, is event organising – where you share registration for similar events or offer magazine subscriptions relevant to that sector. As Adestra is a co-sponsor/co-registration partner of TFM 2009, when users register on the website they are encouraged to sign up to receive our latest industry email marketing whitepaper.
Typically, co-registration is open to all types of email marketers – and can equally work for both b2b and b2c sectors. The trick is identifying relevant partners and tracking responses. Remember, building relationships with key organisations now could forge strategic partnerships in future – make sure your competitors don’t beat you to the best data owners.
What’s in it for me?
Co-registration delivers confirmed subscribers who have positively opted-in to receive communications from you – they want to hear from your company! So make sure you have a planned approach to communicate relevant marketing messages.
List growth with co-registration is fast – ideal if you need to boost your database for a new launch or key sales period such as Christmas. When done correctly, co-registration can often generate thousands of new subscribers each day, so ensure systems are in place to deal with them.
Another key point is that the results need to be directly measurable – monitoring new sign-ups is one thing, accurately tracking the worth of the customers long term, and ROI, is quite another. Discuss with your Email Service Provider about how to go about this.
What are the drawbacks?
Co-registration can be an effective tool to increase your database in a short space of time, however there are a few limitations: because you are using third party data – be aware of what that means – Open rates, click-through and conversion rates tend to be much lower than qualified, segmented in-house lists.
Unsubscribes tend to be higher – it’s human nature for people to change their minds after a short time – therefore it’s critical for your new readers to make your early communications targeted, relevant… and interesting! Ensure that you are able to fully track your core metrics – typically you can expect to be looking at high volume, low quality data, generating very little ROI.
Armed with that intelligence, you need to be asking some hard questions, chiefly “is it really worthwhile?”
This is part of your marketing strategy and represents your brand online, so make sure you are able to have enough space on the signup pages to include your logo and some compelling copy to attract your target audience. Again, relevancy is king.
What best practice methods should I follow?
At sign-up, it’s a legal requirement to use the standard confirmed double opt-in methods for data capture. Be up front about who you are and make it clear what new subscribers can expect. Just saying we won’t spam you doesn’t wash.
When contacting co-registration lists make sure you carry out your own segmentation of data and make your messages relevant (this will significantly help to keep your open rates and click-throughs up and unsubscribes down). Let them know why they are receiving the email (this is especially important if they have signed up from the partner’s site and not your own) and include the usual unsubscribe message at the end.
Trigger a welcome message after opt-in has been confirmed – this way they see you while they still remember what is it that they have signed up for. Don’t leave it a week, otherwise it’s too late.
What does it cost?
This is usually on a pay-per-registration basis, in other words a set price for each new email address that subscribes. You need to work out how much a new subscriber is worth to your business and how much you can afford to spend, you could even look at paying on performance.
Better still, don’t pay for it. It appears an outstanding idea if it costs you nothing – ie a data swap – what have you got to lose? Here you would swap a set number of contacts with the cooperating organisation – aim to carry out an initial test where you track to the value of the data over a set period, say 3 months. If you’ve not done it before, this practice might make a good introduction to co-registration as you’re more likely to get management buy-in if you use the f word (free that is!).
Return on Investment
Tracking the performance, i.e. ROI, of your new list is absolutely critical to see if co-registration is a successful tool for your organisation (or if you have identified the correct data partner). Large volume is not the most important factor here, identifying the lifetime value of that customer is.
If 80% of the co-registered names unsubscribe within the first four months, then the list has a very low value. However, if your co-registered customers convert more than those who signed up using other methods, then you have a nice profitable partnership.
How do I find a partner?
The easiest way to find co-registration partnerships is by using list brokers. They can help you identify the right customer base profiles and begin a new business relationship.
Other data generators
Don’t forget, other ways to boost your database quickly, and can be used in tandem with co-registration for website and email campaigns, are viral marketing and encouraging ‘forward to a friend/colleague’ techniques. An example, such as Thresher’s 40% off in-store promotion that went ballistic after staff forwarded it around the world, shows the power of this technique. Note if it’s a good enough deal, most people will forward it anyway. Also using viral games as promotions have proved successful for brands such as IWOOT.com and ba.com.
Overall, co-registration could be a fast lead generation activity for your business. It’s a good way to collect lots of names, but beware the quality – it’s critical to track the value of the dataset over time, otherwise your carefully planned marketing communications strategy will fall at the first hurdle. A smaller, better quality database could produce significantly improved results.
Given the state of the economy at the moment, managing to engineer a free data-swap is a great way to embark on your co-registration journey.
Hollie Williams, Client Strategy Consultant
A question that often comes up is “how to code an email for a “blackberry”, “iPhone”, “windows mobile” etc…
Before you start you should probably ask your clients if they prefer to receive TEXT or HTML emails, a good time for that would be at the signup process.
Ok now let’s have a look at some of the current popular models:
They have several different models, Storm, Bold, Curve is to name a few. At the moment most models don’t have HTML switched on as default and they will display the TEXT version in a multipart message or even worse, the HTML email non formatted. The screen resolution is everything from 240×260 to 480×320 pixels.
The iPhone is a mobile from Apple. The iPhone has native HTML email support but you also have the option to download different applications via its app store, the screen resolution of an iPhone is 320×480 pixels, unfortunately Apple also removed the preview pane before the release of the iPhone.
Windows mobile is currently in version 6.1 and an update is scheduled for 2010, its market share for smart phones is about 13%. With Windows mobile you can get HTML emails via outlook mobile but they do not support CSS.
Android is like Windows Mobile an OS, however it has only been around for a couple of months, one big factor with Android is that it’s an open platform, so anyone can develop applications that can render HTML emails.
Symbian is the largest OS for smart phones, with a market share of 46.6% (Q3 2008) according to Canalys. As Symbian is an OS there are several different screen resolutions, ranging from 240×320 pixels to 800×352 pixels. When it comes to email clients there are many options.
Ok great, the variations are endless. Well as on desktop email clients the variations are endless, so let’s be a bit restrictive.
As the smallest resolution among these system is 240×320 pixels I would recommend that you have your call to action in the top 240 pixels and not wider than 320 pixels.
Images are not downloaded by default on most clients so having an alt tag is a must (the image label which will show prior to image download) Also don’t rely on images to display important information!
As most mobile devices will display the raw url instead of the masked it is always good to have a short url and human readable if possible.
As a lot of end users pay for what they download the size of your emails will matter to them, so avoid big file sizes and make sure that your images are not too memory draining. Some devices have a size cut-off point.
Try to stick to a single column layout as some handhelds will display the first column and then the second – very user unfriendly.
Makes sure that your codes is XHTML compliant and test it against a validator before doing live tests and sends.
Territory Manager, North America