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Thursday, October 22, 2009

7 Ways To Pull Your Email Marketing Out of The Dark Ages

Email has been like a direct marketer's dream come true. Just think about it: no postage, instant deliverability, highest direct marketing ROI and almost instant response to your marketing message. But these clear advantages over 'snail' mail have left a lot of email marketers lulled into a state of lethargy and failing to adopt more advanced email practices.

Usually, the more expensive an advertising channel is, the more vigilant marketers are about their investment compared to other cheaper methods. Most companies have seen a high return on investment using email and have thus been less attentive to new technologies and innovations in this field. When deliverability, for example, became a growing concern, most companies responded by just sending more emails.

Whenever a marketing method is as economical and effective as email, then you can expect overuse and even abuse of the subscribers. Email marketing abuse has led to more scrupulous subscribers who guard their inboxes like their purses. Marketers who fail to adapt to this new consumer attitude will continue to see diminishing returns for their email marketing.

Marketers must therefore continually change with the market place to remain on the cutting edge of email marketing by using the latest tools and technologies if they hope to remain viable. Below are seven ways email marketers can improve their email campaigns.

1. Be proactive about deliverability. An email message that never gets read represents wasted resources. So be sure to use an ESP that employs new technologies such as Return Path that can predict deliverability issues before your campaign is sent out rather than afterward when it is too late. Many ISPs are now using email filtering programs to determine which messages should reach customer's inboxes. Customers also have the option to rate email messages as "junk" or inbox worthy. So your email reaching its destination is no guarantee that it will get read.

2. Use updated email benchmarks. Open rates and click-through rates have been the basic benchmarks for years now, but email marketers need to go beyond these gauges. Marketers need to address questions such as, "Which links in an email were clicked, how many times and by whom?" "How many subscribers forwarded your emails and where and when they used the 'Send to Friend' link in your email?" There are more data collection tools now available than just five years ago and so other email parameters can be determined. The data aggregated from these tools can be used to improve subscriber engagement and retention.

3. Use customer data to enhance segmentation and targeting. Direct marketers agree that the more they know about the demographics of their list, the easier their targeting becomes and the higher the conversion rate. The use of surveys and other subscriber profiling strategies can allow you to further refine the segmentation of your list according to user preferences and other subscriber dimensions. The more personalized an email appears to a subscriber the more likely it would be opened and read. When subscribers view your email messages as relevant to their needs then unsubscribe rates would drop.

4. Make use of email automation. An opt-in form on a website collects a visitors contact information, automatically sends them an email response, sends them follow-up emails and allows them to manage their own subscription. Automation should lead to greater efficiency in marketing, but many marketers are not using the latest tools that can free up their time for those tasks where human input is really critical. For example, subscribers can be sent marketing messages to match yearly holidays, seasons and even birthdays without further input from the marketer.

5. Make your email marketing a conversation. The success of the new Web 2.0 technologies such as Facebook, YouTube, MySpace and Twitter shows how much consumers want to be heard. They are not lacking in opinions on a host of issues, and asking them to rate and review your products or services can lead to higher responses. These reviews can also be used in your own marketing as testimonials and as evidence that you are not just talking to the consumer, but listening as well. When consumers feel like their opinions count, your company will experience an increase in customer loyalty.

6. Integrate offline marketing with your email marketing. A hard-line segmentation of offline and online marketing can prove a mistake. An offline marketing model which has worked well for your company can be integrated into your online marketing rather than abandoning the offline approach completely. Email marketing should be seen as a new way to reach the consumer - a new communication channel - rather than a whole new other world. For example, offline coupons can be translated into online coupons sent by email. You should therefore use email marketing to compliment your offline efforts not replace it.

7. Use the cumulative data collected to incrementally improve conversion. Simply having the technology at your fingertips to collect more information about your subscribers is not a reward in itself. The real reward comes from analyzing these data and responding by making the changes that will improve results from your marketing campaign. The ultimate goal should always be email optimization and customer satisfaction. This requires testing new methods, data analysis and responding to new findings. And this cycle should never end.

No longer can the email marketer rest on his laurels and feel secure in using old methods and email approaches while ignoring new consumer attitudes and innovation in email marketing. With the new tools available and the information accumulated on consumer behavior, to continue using obsolete email marketing practices is simply foolhardy.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Email Marketing - How Much Does It Cost?

Email and other Internet marketing approaches have a distinct advantage over non-Internet marketing: Statistics that measure the success can be obtained easily and inexpensively. Almost every aspect of an email marketing campaign can be tracked, measured, and tested, as we discussed in an earlier blog called Tracking Your Email Campaign.

But, how can you determine how many mailers reached a physical mailbox or how many of those that did were opened and then dropped in the trash? It would be neither simple nor inexpensive to determine these things.

Just as different things in an email campaign can be tracked, there are different ways that advertisers can be charged for delivery and other services ... and different ways that the effectiveness of a campaign can be related to its cost.

The most common methods of paying for email or other Internet advertising include the following:

  • CPA - This stands for Cost Per Action or Cost Per Acquisition.

  • PPA - Pay Per Action is another name for CPA.

  • PPC - This is Pay Per Click. This is also called Cost Per Click (CPC).

  • CPL - This stands for Cost Per Lead.

  • CPI - This is Cost Per Impression.

  • CPM - This is for Cost Per Mille (Thousand) Impressions. It can also mean Cost Per Thousand names on an email rental list.
Let's now define these various terms and how they are used.

CPA - Cost Per Action or Cost Per Acquisition
When a recipient of your email marketing message clicks on a link in the email, this is called taking action. Whether the objective is to get more users to sign up for an email newsletter, download a white paper, or purchase a product on the web site, a conversion is tallied, when the user performs the desired action.

Perhaps it would be better to call the Cost Per Action (CPA) approach to charging Cost Per Conversion instead, since the advertiser pays for each specified action (conversion). Bear in mind, however, that in some contexts, a conversion only refers to gaining a new customer. As always, you must be aware of how a term is used.

When CPA is referred to as Cost Per Acquisition, the focus is on the fact that most offers by advertisers are about acquiring something ... typically a new customer by making a sale. The term Cost Per Acquisition is actually more specific, but not all Cost-Per-Action offers can be accurately referred to as Cost Per Acquisition.

CPA is often considered the optimal way to buy online advertising, since you only pay if the desired action takes place.

Cost Per Action (CPA) Versus Cost Per Lead (CPL)
CPA is focused on an immediate action, whether it is a sale or a newsletter signup. However, with CPL, the advertiser is paying for the contact information of an interested lead ... someone whom the marketer can engage in multiple ways ... for example, signing up for the newsletter, joining the community site, or joining a rewards program. The objective is a relationship which includes multiple sales over the long run.

Cost Per Impression (CPI) or Cost Per Mille/Thousand (CPM) Impressions
An impression is the loading of an advertisement onto a user's screen. This could happen when the user opens a marketing email that was received or when the user visits a web page that displays the ad.

Just as we discussed for click-throughs, you have to know how the value is being calculated. Does the ad server increment the count every time the ad is displayed or are reloads and other non-qualifying activities excluded from the tally?

Very simply, CPM estimates how much it costs to show an ad to one thousand viewers.

With opt-in email marketing, CPA (a click-through, for example) or simply the cost per email for delivery are more often used as the basis for charging. CPM, in this context, typically refers to the cost per 1000 names on a rented email list.

Per Per Click (PPC) / Cost Per Click (CPC)
The idea behind PPC or CPC is that an advertiser only pays when their ad is clicked. CPC is the amount of money an advertiser pays the search engine or other Internet publisher for a single click on its advertisement ... a click that brings one visitor to its website. Although these terms aren't typically used in the area of email marketing, they are included because of their extensive use in the general area of Internet marketing. provides a wide range of email marketing services at affordable prices.

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