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3 Existential Questions to Ask About Your Email Marketing Program

by: Jay Jhun (@emailrocks)
22 October 2015

Caution: Asking these questions about your email marketing program may have side effects that include but are not limited to nausea, panic, frustration and feeling overwhelmed. If symptoms persist, please consult with your CMO and/or a digital marketing expert.

Ask anyone that’s responsible for email marketing at a company and they’ll be quick to tell you there’s no shortage of opportunity, but also barely enough time to get through the work of today. Over time, it’s easy to feel our world is not unlike that of Bill Murray’s character in Groundhog Day — day after day repeating itself, with only enough time and opportunity to affect a slightly different outcome.

But if you had a superpower that allowed you to hit the “pause” button on everything for a day or even a week, what would you do with that time? What if the superpower wasn’t really a superpower at all but something you could decide today, would you hit that “pause” button? What if you realized the most important thing you should do is to ask some tough, existential questions about your program before you relive Groundhog Day again?

Here are three challenging questions that, when addressed properly, could alter the trajectory of your marketing program:

Question #1: “What is the value of our email program?”

It seems like human nature to take great things for granted and lose sight of their value until one day those things are no longer there. Only then do we realize their full value. While some brands (e-tailers in particular) can give a precise valuation for their email program, I would argue that the majority of brands today cannot answer this question.

For those who don’t have that number ready for your CMO, it might be a hard and controversial undertaking, but imagine removing email from your digital mix and seeing how things look. Then, as you place it back in you might be able to begin articulating where your email marketing program’s value lives on the scale of “worthless” to “invaluable.” I would venture to bet that your email marketing program has far greater value than anyone yet realizes. It’s up to you to tell that story.

Many CMOs talk a big game about how important it is to grow their email subscriber database, yet they can’t explain what the value proposition is for the consumer. Savvy marketers would be wise to put themselves in their customers’ shoes to objectively determine whether they would buy into the value proposition of their own program. Better yet, take the time to ask customers what their expectations are and use these findings to refine your program goals.

Question #2: “What really matters to the business?”

When your eyes roll into the back of your head after the umpteenth time reviewing every granular piece of email performance data for your weekly newsletter or promotional campaign, you might find yourself realizing that all the reports and dashboards you’re sharing with your CMO and other execs are meaningless to them.

At any given point in time, there is a hierarchy of priorities for a business. Taking the time to determine how your email program performance is tied to your company’s success could give you moments of clarity that have been missing for too long. Knowing what matters the most to the business can inform how and where you invest your resources. Suddenly, your campaigns and programs have more purpose, and your time and effort becomes more meaningful.

Question #3: “What will we do with a 360-degree view of our customer?”

The power and potential of email and omni-channel marketing lies squarely on the shoulders of data. Marketing, IT, Business Intelligence, E-Commerce — all these departments and disciplines are pursuing the holy grail of the 360-degree view of the customer. In principle, it sounds great to have the ability to anticipate the wants and needs of customers to help deliver the ultimate customer experience. But is your marketing organization even thinking about how it would fulfill what could be called the “360 Manifesto”?

Just from an email marketing perspective, the content, creative support and way you think about campaigns would have to fundamentally change. Then add on social media, SMS, push notifications, display and … yes, your brain just exploded.

When assisting brands with program road maps, our team often casts a big vision, but we also help clients assemble a plan of action that enables them to crawl, walk and then run. The evolution of the data we harness must evolve likewise. Most brands have valuable, actionable data right underneath their noses. Leveraging that data to trigger relevant, thoughtful customer experiences is the right place to begin crawling. But make no mistake — now is the time for marketers to envision what it will take to soon walk and then run with the power of a 360-degree view of the customer. To help ensure success, be sure to address questions #1 and #2 before you attempt to wrestle with question #3.

Related Resources:

1) Ebook: “Ultimate Guide to Assessing Your Digital Marketing Program

2) Blog: “The Email Experience Audit: Why You Need One

3) Tip Sheet: “10 Tips for Driving Engagement Using Email + Social




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