The 2016 Consumer Adoption and Usage Study has found that more than seven in 10 consumers from all age groups favour email over any other channel. This includes direct mail, SMS and mobile apps. In fact, email is the most effective tactic in the digital landscape, with 61 percent of respondents considering so. As such it should come as no surprise that everyone is trying to get it right and make the most of it.
While email may still be the reigning champion this does not mean that it doesn’t come with its own barriers. Some of the most significant are marketing budgets, lack of training, inability to measure ROI and lack of strategy.
If you add having to manage expectations, the pressures of a timely delivery and ensuring that you have achieved the brief, it can all be very overwhelming. If you work in an agency, then reading this really hits home. Fortunately, there are two tools that will undoubtedly help: planning and reporting.
Planning is no longer optional
Research from Litmus has shown that the majority of marketers spend 1-2 weeks creating and developing an idea before sending an email. Our Agency eGuide has found that the email production cycles within the agency environment can take even longer, from a reported couple of hours to three weeks, depending on campaign sign-offs on either side.
Bearing this in mind planning is as significant as ever. It will not only help you save time in the long run by having a plan that everyone agrees on and can’t dispute, but it will give you the opportunity to consider the various elements that may influence the delivery of your campaign. For example:
- How will the overall user experience be impacted by perhaps frequency and series of campaigns?
- Do you have all the data needed to investigate customer behaviour?
- Do you need to segment the data and think of conditional content to successfully target different segments?
- Is automation something worth considering, optimising and expanding?
Planning is particularly important with regards to automation. As programs are becoming increasingly complex and technology is developing, allowing for cross-channel communication, it’s crucial that you have a clear idea of what the aim of your program is. There are a lot of details to consider and it is easy to lose sight of what the overall goal is. As such, we advise creating a rough mind map to help visualize your idea or program. Here are some questions you need to think about before starting:
- What type of program is it: welcome journey, nurture program, loyalty scheme, reactivation program, etc.?
- What would you like your customer to do after completing the program?
- When and how will your contacts be imported?
- How long will this program run for and how many campaigns will be included?
- How many filters do you need?
- How will this integrate with overall marketing plans and other channels?
- What KPIs are you using to measure success?
Future Publishing, for example, created a very complex subscription renewal program that contained 192 permutations. By using conditional content, filters, and dynamic lists, they created an automated journey that helped give each subscriber a unique experience, ensuring they were getting the right message. This resulted in a fantastic 25 percent increase in year-on-year revenue.
Good planning will require some time initially, yet ultimately it will have great benefits:
- Increasing ROI
- Saving time down the line
- Ensuring you are creating targeted automated programs that meet your overall marketing KPIs, while delivering the right message to your customers.
Reporting and the big picture
Planning’s cousin and important counterpart is reporting. Otherwise how will you know if your planning worked? Reporting can impact every element of your campaign from creative concept and design to content and optimal time of launch. Making the right strategic decisions entails that you understand your customers and how they interact with email, which can be revealed through reporting.
Most email platforms can now report on a variety of elements that go beyond clicks, opens and CTORs. As markers, we are accustomed to Excel sheets, charts, pivot tables and trend reports, however these must be interpreted within the larger context. For example, if you see that your customers are reading their emails on mobile, then you must have a mobile responsive template, think of the length of your copy, and the way your content is displayed. If you take into account that budgets are one of the main barriers, then having all this information will make decisions easier to support with senior managers or the board.
Recently one of our agency partners, Fat Media, and their client, The Daffodil Hotel, have proven that understating your results and your customers can result in 2500 percent ROI. During the time between Christmas and New Year, Daffodil sent a simple, image based, mobile responsive campaign.
By using the insight that during this period people are price-led and that 81 percent of their subscribers are opening on mobile, they targeted their created targeted, on-point content and offers.
Figures are important, yet you must not forget that they are not the be-all and end-all, everything must be put into context. Remember the big picture as it could lead to significant growth in email performance.