Tuesday, April 22, 2008


I quit writing about email awhile back. I figured everything that could be written about it pretty much has. It has been the topic of plenty of SAST posts in the past (search them out on the blog using the tool below). All of that being said, I have recently seen some other pieces about email that triggered some thoughts so I was inspired to touch on it yet again.

A LOT of companies have adopted email as a marketing and sales tool, and rightfully so. Email can be an incredibly effective tactic to increasing interest, keeping clients and interested audience members tuned in, etc. Even in a world that has produced many alternatives and lots of fear around email (spam, scams, etc.), when it is properly utilized it is still very efficient and very effective.

Unfortunately, it is still misused, in my estimation, by at least 85% of the organizations that engage it. How do I know? I receive a lot of it from groups that I want to stay in touch with and it is usually poorly executed. Sent at bad times, frequency issues, poorly conceived and executed content, poor click through opportunity, and no real payoff or value proposition for the communication just to name a few.

It is easy for me to critique, so how about some recommendations to improve this oft abused tool?

Well, contrary to the issues mentioned above, when you collect your email recipients' email addresses the correct way, that is the first huge step in a successful email strategy. Do not be tempted to buy lists or secure email addresses without expressed permission of the desired recipient. Next, take the time to properly segment your lists. This will allow you to create content that your recipients actually care about - it will be relevant. One size does not fit all in this medium and segmenting your lists will insure that you see the benefit. Insure your recipients understand the payoff to them if they click through the email to further engage with your brand. make it valuable based on their interests, not yours. If you have a click through rate lower than 10% - 15% on any email send, you have effectively failed. Industry standard click through rates traditionally have hovered around 3% - 5%. Those rates may be acceptable to someone, but this guy has seen email most effective only when click throughs exceed that 10% to 15% watermark. If you, or your email vendor, are not delivering those higher rates - stop, reassess and try again.

Lastly, quit measuring open rates. They are often inaccurate and it is hard to secure an actual conversion on an open. Create an opportunity that your audience finds valuable enough to click through and further engage. Click throughs are measurable because the user has to take that action, moreover it is a better way to understand what your audience finds valuable. Define the conversion funnel and allow email to kick it off in a way that is meaningful to your audience.

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