Marketing’s Weekly Dose of the Truth

Ken Magill

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Getting Email the Credit It's Due: Part 1

10/1/13

How do we make sure email gets the credit it deserves so we can get the budgetary resources we need?

That was one of the questions put forth by the audience at email service provider Apsis’ E+mail Marketing Evolved conference in Stockholm, Sweden two weeks ago.

According to Ann Hofvander, director, international sales for Apsis, it is the professional question she hears most.

“It is the most frequent and consistent question that we get from marketers with respect to advancing their email marketing efforts,” she wrote in an email to the Magill Report.

I put the question to the digital marketing experts on Bill McCloskey’s Only Influencers email discussion list. Not surprisingly, they had quite a bit to say.

Starting today, I’ll be running the answers in a multi-part series.

Our first answer is from Loren McDonald, vice president, industry relations for marketing services provider Silverpop:

While under attributing revenue from email is likely a problem at many/most companies, it may not be the main reason that email marketing is under resourced. Email marketing in many companies is actually highly valued as a channel, but it is under invested in because it is thought of as inexpensive and easy to do. Many companies email strategy is "batch-and-blast" based and is often on auto pilot.

Management sees it is working well with existing resources and when we have an underperforming in-store promotion or product SKU, we just ask the email team to "send another email" - and it works.

What is needed is analysis and a roadmap that clearly lays out how email marketing supports strategic initiatives and the ROI that will result from increased budgets and resources.

I recommend the following:

- Beyond channel attribution, analyze how the different channels work together and where they excel. At your company, search, for example, might be responsible for the majority of first purchases; but email marketing delivers most of the second and beyond purchases. "Email" customers may be more loyal, purchase more and have a higher lifetime value.

- Show how email marketing currently—and even more in the future with increased investment—supports converting customers into replenishment, repeat, wine club, rewards program, premium subscription, etc members/customers.

- Create a forecast and plan that delineates the additional programs and technologies required to support the above and the resulting ROI.

- Provide reports to management not just on total revenue from email, but revenue per email and conversion rates for each type of email program—broadcast, onboarding, transitional, cross-sell, cart and browse remarketing, bounce back, birthday and purchase anniversary, etc. Then lay out a plan that shows how each of these programs can be improved and revenue increased by XX percent by integrating your ESP with your Web analytics, CRM, recommendation/personalization vendor, etc. and expanding these emails to a series and adding dynamic content, etc.

- Show management what your email marketing program looks like today, but then layout a plan that shows the dozen (or whatever) additional email programs you can add; what resources, integrations and budgets are necessary to deploy them—and a reasonable, conservative ROI from each. Total it up and show them by taking your email marketing program to another level of sophistication, the company can increase revenue from email by XXX percent.

- To support all of these efforts, get case studies and presentations from your ESP/MA provider or agency or ask them to present to you and management a simple roadmap and examples of programs from other clients and sample metrics. Getting outsiders involved can be key as management will often not listen to, or diminish the credence of ideas from their own employees, but are "convinced" when an outsider delivers the same or similar message.

In summary, while attribution is key, what is likely to really get management's attention is not that email marketing contributes 20 percent of sales rather than the 17 percent they thought, but instead that you have a solid plan to increase that 17 percent to 20 percent to 30 percent in the next 18 months.

And that by doing so it does not takeaway form the other channels, but likely helps increase revenue for them as well. In the end, this is not so much about fighting over slices of the pie, but rather how do we best increase the overall size of the pie.

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