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10 Questions to Ask to Help You Enhance Your Email Program

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by: Loren McDonald (@LorenMcDonald)
09 October 2013

As I’ve discussed before, increasing your email program’s sophistication with tactics like creating an onboarding program, implementing a “happy birthday” campaign or launching an early reactivation initiative can boost your email program's performance and generate more income to sweeten your company's bottom line.

However, improvement doesn't happen in a vacuum. If you don’t have a solid base from which to build, efforts to enhance your email marketing efforts by, for example, sending more behavior-triggered emails or incorporating more dynamic content into your messaging mix are less likely to succeed.

As you’re assessing how you can take your digital marketing up a notch, think about the elements that play a major role in your forward progress:

  • People: Everyone who touches your email program, including team members, allied employees and vendors
  • Processes: How you get work done now and what you need to change
  • Technology: What you have and what you'll need
  • Strategy: How you'll get approval and resources to move ahead 

Together, these four elements create the foundation for your email marketing program. But do you know today how strong that foundation is, or are there areas you need to shore up before you start adding on new programs?

To help you answer those questions – and avoid endless frustration, mistakes and lost time – Silverpop has developed a decision-making framework of questions that will help you assess which building blocks you already have in place and what you need to work on.


1. Does my team have the skills we need?

You need tech- and data-savvy people who can manage complex projects and integrations, interpret data, map out strategy and tap into resources in other departments across your organization, as well as a creative team that understands the demands brought by automation, responsive design and other advanced programs.

To that end, are you investing in staff education? Education is key to enabling growth of a team’s skills, so ask yourself if you should be fighting for new budget and resources that would enable your team to stay ahead of the curve.

2. Can our vendors and outside agencies grow with us?

Your outside partnerships – your Web analytics and ecommerce providers, creative agencies and other third-party partners – must have the knowledge, technology and skills to help you navigate the new territory of marketing integrations and automation.


3. Are we using data to understand our customers and how they use email?

Every advanced email program uses data in sophisticated ways, whether in triggering emails based on behavior, adding dynamic content in messages or coordinating email, social media and other channels to reap the benefits of multichannel marketing. Are you tapping the latest digital marketing technologies to capture customer and prospect behaviors across every channel and platform in which they interact with you?

4. Are we using the right metrics to analyze and report our performance?

Opens and clicks don't tell the whole story. Instead, you need "output" metrics that measure whether your emails are reaching goals such as number of conversions (direct sales, downloads, etc.), retention and revenue per email.

Analytics can also tell you how your customers are acting on your emails in today's multiscreen environment. Do you know, for example, whether your mobile subscribers are converting on their smartphones or on their tablets or desktops/laptops?

5.  Do we have a content strategy and development process?

One of the biggest stumbling blocks when moving to a sophisticated email program is simply coming up with enough content to populate these new emails. You'll need a new content-creation process, such as repurposing content from your website, direct mail pieces and social media marketing teams, to move from a one-off broadcast program to a recurring email series.


6.  Are we underutilizing the capabilities available to us through Engage?

When you selected your digital marking solution, part of the reason you chose it was likely because of some of its more innovative or advanced features. But have you progressed your program and moved beyond relying primarily on broadcast messages? If not, try taking advantage of features like Web tracking, customer and prospect scoring, and progressive profiling and take your program to another level.

7. Are we using technologies and initiatives already operating in other departments at our company?

If not, check with IT or audit other departments in your company to see which processes, systems or engines you could piggyback on for your email program, such as Web analytics, recommendation engines, or product-review or CRM systems.

8. Are we taking advantage of all the partner integrations that could benefit us?

Depending on your digital marketing platform, there may opportunities to tap your solution's partner ecosystem and implement some pretty cool marketing tactics. Have you examined what new integrations might benefit your efforts?


9. Do we know how we will get management buy-in and necessary budgets and resources?

You should have a feel for your management's preferred path to "yes." If not, consider a phased implementation program, in which you propose project stages, complete with estimated costs, projected revenue and impact on or involvement with other departments, instead of a complete start-to-finish program.

10. Do we have measurable goals and strategies for achieving them?

Goal setting and measurement are necessary components of any email marketing program. However, the goals you set for your program can help you drive the decisions you make on the methods and strategies you will use to accomplish them.

Suppose your goal is to increase revenue from email by 20 percent. You'll need a strategic roadmap, including costs and revenue projections from each new or existing email program (such as standard broadcast emails, birthday or cart-abandonment programs, cross-sell copy in transactional emails) you’ll use to help you meet the goal. This can be the same road map you use to sell management on funding.

Next Steps

Don't be disappointed if you could not answer "yes" to every question in this framework or let it deter you from taking the steps you need to take your email program to that higher level.

Instead, identify the issues you can resolve easily and move on up from there. Before long, you’ll have taken your marketing program to a higher level.

Related White Papers and Ebooks:

1) “Creating Real-Time Individualized Campaigns Around Every Imaginable Customer Behavior

2) “Vision, Skills, Data: Making the Most of Marketing Technology

3) “Print Money Today: 7 Emails Marketers Should Automate to Drive Massive ROI




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