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The Email World Cup at Marketing Week Live

In June I gave a presentation at Marketing Week Live 2014, about how to make your email marketing a “World Cup Winner”.

The presentation was based on the 2014 Email Marketing Industry Census, published by Adestra and Econsultancy earlier this year. This was based on a survey of over 1,100 email marketers. Inspired by it, we created an infographic to present some of the key findings: “Is your Email Marketing Premier League? Or more Sunday League?”

I decided to revisit these findings and update them with more detail. And, in light of the World Cup, I kept up the tenuous football theme with:

What do you need to win the Email World Cup?

A dedicated team

“83% of companies with teams dedicated to email marketing also rated the channel as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ for ROI.”

Email is sometimes seen as an “unsexy” marketing channel. Compared to social media or advertising, it’s technical limitations and process-driven approach leaves it looking like a poorer cousin. But it’s a brilliant results- and revenue-driver.

Companies that recognize this and dedicate resources to it’s success, unsurprisingly, see the best results. Whether you build the team in-house, or rely on outside help, buying-in expert talent, it’s worth the investment.

A system they understand

“37% of the companies using more than three-quarters of their email systems’ functionality rated their ROI as ‘excellent’.”

You can invest heavily in marketing technology to get your team the latest kit for a worthy Email World Cup winner, but if they don’t understand everything it can do for them, you won’t reap all the benefits.

Make sure your marketing technology vendors have a solid onboarding plan, and then make sure they follow-up when you’re a customer. What ongoing training do they offer? How often will your account manager go through a review with you? How do they keep you up-to-date on the latest industry developments?

A team matched to the system

To have a successful email marketing program and become an Email World Cup Winner, the key elements are:

Different email systems, and their providers, have strengths in different areas. Which of these elements can you provide in-house? Which need to be outsourced? Can your technology provider help you? What sort of support do they offer?

A solid understanding of best practice

“More than 77% of companies doing advanced segmentation rated email as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ for ROI.”

Technology, like football strategy, is constantly changing, but most of the best practices don’t change – they just become more important. With new subscribers opening emails on different devices, email clients being updated, and governments introducing tougher data protection legislation, being an Email World Cup winner depends more and more on doing the right things.

Focus on segmenting your email data, targeting it with personalized, relevant content, and testing and optimizing all your campaigns. Putting the hard work in is the key to success.

A focus on strategy

“Nearly two-thirds of company marketers (63%) are spending more than two hours on design and content for a typical campaign, with only 17% spending at least two hours on optimization.”

Making sure your emails look good on your subscribers’ email clients, and that your content is relevant and engaging is important – but making sure you have a solid strategy is even more important. What are your marketing goals? How does your email program help you achieve them?

Focus on continuous improvement – optimize every campaign you send to maximize your results. Football coaches spend hours watching recorded footing of the game to see where the players went wrong and where there is room for improvement. So why not learn from them? Will sending another email result in a high number of unsubscribes and low engagement? Or will it achieve higher sales? Keep an eye on the ball, and always shoot for goal for your chance to score in the Email World Cup.

Automatic excellence

“49% of those surveyed felt the implementation of their email automation was unsuccessful.”

Automated doesn’t mean hands-free. You can’t just leave your automated campaigns to run and consider that as a job done. You need to spend time optimizing your automated emails, making sure they’re helping you achieve your goals.

Review your customer journeys. Could you optimize customer touch-points with triggered emails? Could an automated campaign stimulate purchasing behavior at a certain point in the buying cycle? Ironically, you have to spend time to save time.

Give fans what they want

“47% of companies have emails optimized for mobile, while 61% have a “basic” or “non-existent” mobile strategy.”

We’ve reached the tipping point where more emails are going to be opened on mobile devices than desktop. Do you know your split? Have you checked your email client reports?

You may be slightly behind the trend, but what’s your tipping point? You need to start thinking now about your mobile email approach. Getting a responsive template is one thing, but what’s different about your mobile openers? How do they behave differently to desktop openers? How can you take advantage of the differences? Keep your fans happy to keep them coming back.

An eye on the future

“64% of companies would like to improve personalization, 64% automation, and 63% segmentation.”

You can’t stand still, there’s always room for improvement. No email campaign is perfect just like no pitch strategy is perfect. Know your what your opponents do (i.e. other brands targeting the same audience). And then outsmart their strategy. Think about your priorities for 2014. Where do you think your biggest wins will come from? Remember, sometimes it’s better to focus on making lots of small improvements that add up to a big result, rather than aiming for one big change that may be difficult to realize.

This article is adapted from a post originally published on the Marketing Week Live 2014 blog.