In my role at Silverpop, I spend a lot of time with our customers discussing their email strategy and how they can better use our technology to improve their email marketing results, and more importantly, increase revenue. Taking your email marketing program to a higher level requires improving practices throughout the email lifecycle — from acquisition to retention. Here are seven email marketing programs and tactics – some new ideas and some old ideas with a twist — that you should consider implementing today:
1) Capture more homepage opt-ins.
Where are your opt-in forms on your company website and homepage? The easiest way to increase revenue is increasing opt-ins on your site homepage, yet as many as 56 percent of companies (according to a 2011 Silverpop study of the Internet Retailer Top 500) place their email opt-in at the bottom of their company homepage, with only 36 percent highlighting it at the top. Many businesses have seen lifts of 2 to 5 times simply by moving the opt-in “above the fold” on the homepage. The hottest trend now is to incorporate popovers as soon as or shortly after a visitor visits the homepage. Popovers are also producing 2 to 4 times lifts in subscriber acquisition, but need to be tested and deployed carefully so as to not compromise list quality.
2) Evolve your “welcome” email to “onboarding” programs.
So, you’ve got a new subscriber, now what? Ideally, you’re already at least sending a welcome email when a new subscriber joins your database. To take this idea further, and make the initial contact more effective, consider shifting your frame of thought to an “onboarding” program. Currently, for example, if a new visitor comes to your site and browses designer jeans, then signs up for your email program, the initial offer they receive might be for workout gear. You’ve probably missed an immediate opportunity to convert this prospect. Instead, send a progression of emails and incorporate content and offers based on pre-opt-in browse behavior to get them engaged or converted more quickly.
3) Remarket to cart and browse abandoners.
Shopping cart abandonment emails have long been a staple in many email marketing programs – some businesses drive millions of dollars in revenue annually from these remarketing emails. It’s now time to consider moving higher up the funnel to address the next opportunity. Leveraging Web tracking, trigger remarketing emails to subscribers who visit key pages or sections of your site and use content designed to move them to the next level in the purchase process. Because browsers are earlier in the purchase process than cart abandoners, conversion rates are much lower but the volume can be much higher. Expect revenue per email several times what you produce from broadcast emails, but well below cart remarketing emails.
4) Take birthday, and other date-based special days, emails to the next level.
An ordinary (but successful!) birthday email program typically goes like this: capture birthdate, create email with an offer, set up the trigger and see good results. Now, take that method of thinking and add some personalization with dynamic content and a series of emails. Consider including recently browsed items, wish lists or recommendations based on previous purchases. We all want to feel a little special on our birthdays, so to encourage someone to gift themselves, a personalized series goes a long way. Also consider other “special date” campaigns – purchase anniversaries, subscriber/membership anniversaries or other events can trigger happy buying memories.
5) Segment based on behavior.
Sending an email that’s completely irrelevant to the recipient is the easiest way to get a quick “delete.” Silverpop client and custom invitation and stationery company Paper Style needed a fresh approach to its email program. Working with the agency and Silverpop partner Whereoware, it analyzed site behaviors, purchase patterns and the wedding process and produced an automated email program based on a wedding timeline. The company set up a nurture program for those who had purchased or browsed wedding products or clicked on a link in an email asking if they were purchasing for their own wedding or someone else’s. The campaign resulted in a 244 percent increase in open rates, 161 percent increase in click-through rates and a 330 percent increase in revenue per mailing. By taking a step back to evaluate the online behavior of Paper Style customers and prospects, the company evolved its email program and experienced big-time business results.
6) Focus on early activation over reactivation.
Inactive subscribers are a reality every email marketer faces, with most companies seeing about 40% or more of their database defined as inactive. But, instead of focusing on programs that attempt to reactivate these inactives 6 to 12 months after they are already showing such a lack of interest, focus on saving them at the first sign of disengagement. Deploy an early activation program, a series of emails designed to get the attention and regain engagement for subscribers who haven’t purchased or engaged with your emails in 2 to 3 months, for example. These early activation programs can include emails with surveys, special offers or “best of” your company offers, different content approaches and other techniques.
7) Get focused and get started.
My final tip is about what to do after deciding that you want to move forward on one or several of the above six ideas. The most important thing to remember when considering any change to your email program is to identify and solve your biggest business problem(s) first. Once you have the problem and goal nailed down, focus on getting started, and not just what “best” practices are. If you try to be perfect, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. It’s also important to remember to take baby steps – trying to do too much can delay the launch of a new program for months, leaving a lot of revenue on the table.
1) Webinar recording: "10 Email Marketing Ideas You Can’t Ignore"
2) White paper: "Print Money Today: 7 Emails Marketers Should Automate to Drive Massive ROI"
3) Blog post: "Is It Time to Renovate Your Email Program?"