What does it take to be successful at email marketing? Many factors influence email program performance, from budget and staff to technology. But the person managing an email program can have the most significant impact on success.
Just as author Stephen R. Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People® sets out a guide to help people accomplish their goals, the following principles can help email marketers revolutionize their email programs.
1. Set clearly defined goals. Common goals such as “grow the email file” and “generate more ROI” are a great starting point but aren’t specific enough. What is your target percentage of list growth? How much ROI increase are you targeting for each customer segment? Defining your email marketing program goals helps focus your time and effort while making it easier to measure success.
Not sure where to start? The most successful marketers consider the goals of the broader business and align email program goals accordingly. This approach is more likely to get executive support and collaboration from other departments to more effectively reach your goals.
2. Have a plan. Effective email marketers not only define what they want to accomplish, but how they’ll reach those goals. Mapping out an action plan helps you determine the tools, resources and time you’ll need to be successful. Once you have defined goals and crafted your action plan, it’s time to communicate them to people or teams in your organization who may assist those efforts. Your ability to get buy-in from dependent resources is critical.
3. Know your customers/prospects. Too often brands consider what they want to tell customers before first considering what customers want to hear. That level of understanding is only possible when marketers take the time to get to know customers and prospects. The most effective marketers consider who users are and why they are using their products or services. They think of personalized marketing as person-to-person marketing.
Most people see a daily influx of marketing messages in their inbox, so to keep subscribers engaged your messages need to be targeted, relevant and provide value. Understanding who your subscriber is helps you more effectively communicate with the individuals receiving your messages.
4. Hold yourself to a higher standard. Most people adapt to whatever environment they find themselves in. If you’re feeling stuck and not making progress, you need to aspire to standards that truly challenge you. It’s how you push yourself out of your comfort zone to improve.
If you’re only measuring success based on last year’s program performance, challenge yourself to measure against benchmarks for the email industry, or your specific brand vertical. Consider the marketing strategies and testing tactics of best-in-class senders. If you want to achieve more, you should look at the email programs – and people who will hold you to a higher standard than you currently hold yourself.
5. Take risks while accepting and learning from failure. If everything you do is working, you probably aren’t taking enough risks. Even if you accomplish small wins often, without risk you likely won’t challenge yourself to tackle the big wins that will elevate your program in a significant way.
Risk-taking is what helps us learn and grow. Seeking out new perspectives, challenging assumptions and testing new approaches can lead to significant growth. Even when risk-taking fails, it is an opportunity to discuss what went wrong in order to learn from that failure and refine your future approach.
6. Educate to innovate. The ever changing and evolving email landscape requires marketers to stay current on technologies, trends and emerging tactics. The most successful marketers use that knowledge to come up with new ideas, methods and solutions to exceed customer expectations, overcome program challenges and stand out from the competition.
7. Ask questions. Often when you ask questions, you discover something new. Discovery can lead to new ideas and perspectives you may not have otherwise considered. Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google said, “We run this company on questions, not answers.” Asking questions is the best way to get information needed to make informed decisions. If you keep asking questions you can keep finding better answers.
8. Test/learn/apply; repeat. Testing is critical for any successful email program. The results analysis and application of findings can optimize every aspect of your program performance, from send times and frequency to subject lines and content. Yet many marketers struggle with knowing what, when, how and to whom they should be testing
Successful marketers recognize the importance of building a testing strategy which is aligned with email program goals and includes clear objectives and defined measures of success. They look beyond standard KPI metrics such as opens and clicks and consider how to influence the subscriber journey and customer’s lifetime value.
9. Take advantage of digital tools. According to a survey by Litmus, for every dollar invested in email marketing, marketers can get a return of over $38, an ROI of 3800%! But in order to run successful email campaigns, you need effective email marketing tools to help you work smarter, not harder while scaling growth.
The right digital tools can help you with every aspect of program optimization, from campaign creation and segmentation to testing and analysis. Take the time to evaluate available tools and resources and determine which will best support your goals and objectives.
10. Information share. Poor communication can cost organizations an average of more than $7,000 a day, according to a study done by Harvard Business Review. One of the most significant challenges to effective communication involves people and teams operating in silos and not sharing information. This lack of collaboration damages innovation, performance and growth.
Success requires communication and collaboration both internally and externally. Share your goals, strategies and results with internal teams. Take time to hear their feedback and suggestions. And don’t underestimate the power of external networking. Join industry groups and attend conferences where you can learn from others who are challenging themselves to innovate and excel.
Colin Powell said “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” While being successful may mean different things to different people, becoming successful at email marketing requires embracing most, if not all of the elements above.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Director of Professional Services at Validity
Laura is an Senior Email Strategist for Return Path, the worldwide leader in email intelligence. As a true Maximizer, she leverages email program data and insight to identify what’s good and make it excellent, somewhat obsessively at times. After spending more than 15 years in the email industry, she’s passionate about helping her clients create better subscriber experiences for increased engagement, retention, and overall email program performance. She continues to work with clients across multiple industries to identify email program vulnerabilities and opportunities, refining strategies to achieve success.