Simply upon reading the word ‘email’, you (and your inbox) might be flooded with thoughts of spam, annoying promotions, or even, dreaded fishing campaigns. But before you write off this humble channel of communication, I’d like to point out why email is still as relevant as ever to a successful marketing strategy.
First of all, it’s cheap. Did you know, that on average, email generates $38 for every $1 spent? That’s a massive ROI for a channel that requires literally nothing to get set up and running for your business, and where your marketing budget is concerned, that’s worth its weight in gold.
You spend a ton of money on customer acquisition through paid channels like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, so looking to retain customers through unpaid channels isn’t just good sense, it’s critical to ensuring your business is profitable in the long term.
If the bulk of your repeat customers (2nd purchase and onward) aren’t coming from unpaid sources then you should take a closer look at your retention strategy. Leveraging email as a channel for retention marketing is a simple way to help optimize your marketing spend for growth.
I spent several years working for a little flower company (ProFlowers, you may have heard of it ;-) ) and in that time, sent over 1 Billion emails per year and learned a ton about making the most of this marketing heavyweight champion.
Here are three tips to help you nail your email marketing strategy:
1) Segment Your Customers
There’s nothing worse than receiving a generic, spammy marketing email. And for the company sending them, you can almost guarantee these will end up at the bottom of a virtual waste bin — unopened and a waste of time. As a business owner, you have unique insight into the customers who are receiving your emails and as such, should capitalize on your ability to send personalized emails that can help generate engagement and drive growth. How much? Campaign Monitor reports that marketers who segment their campaigns see as much as 760% increase in revenue.
A simple way to segment is to use RFM (Recency, Frequency, Monetary) to create simple buckets of customers. Have they purchased in the last year (Yes/No) and have they purchased more than once (Yes/No)?
Asking yourself these questions can help you to prepare some simple, but targeted communications:
- Purchase 1x (<1 year ago) These are the people you’re ‘dating’. You like them but they haven’t committed. Get them excited to ‘call’ you with new product info, interesting stories, and what makes you better than everyone else.
- Purchase 2+ (<1 year ago) These are the people you love, your core customer. Get them excited with previews, etc. Make them feel special and offer discounts at different times (i.e. non-holiday to surprise and delight).
- Purchased 1x (>1 year ago) The date that went cold. Your goal here should be to re-engage and get them interested in your brand again. Try sending updates about your product or remind them to purchase the same item again (but try to avoid discount-focused promotions).
- Purchase 2+ (>1 year ago) An ‘old flame’. These customers were loyal at some point, so try to get them to re-engage by offering a discount.
2) Use Automation / Workflows
One area that almost all brands ignore is the new customer experience. Using Automations or Workflows (whatever your ESP calls them) is one of best things you can do. When a customer orders for the first time it’s the best opportunity to educate them about your brand, but also to learn about them and engage with them.
Don’t make the first emails about getting them to buy again. Instead, use them as an opportunity to teach new customers about your brand and product to help them get the most value from their purchase. Engaging customers early on can also help you get more info that you can use for personalization later: birthdays, anniversaries, where they heard about you, why they chose your product, etc. This is all the information you can use in segmentation moving forward to deliver a better experience.
These campaigns also need to be tested just like your bulk emails to understand performance, and as a benchmark, they should perform better than your regular marketing emails.
3) Key Metrics
Here are a couple of key metrics that I track at the campaign level to see if my emails are performing well:
- Open Rate – the number of unique opens over the number of sends.
Note: I mentioned unique opens because I want to understand what percentage of people opened the email.
- Click to Open Rate – the number of unique clicks divided by the number of unique opens. I use this instead of Click Rate because this normalizes against the open rate. If I have a bad subject line my open rate will be low. If I have bad content in my email then my click-to-open rate will be low. Using click rate muddles these and makes it hard to understand where you didn’t perform well.
- Direct Rev/1k – the revenue per one thousand emails sent (based on people that purchased by directly clicking on a link in my email). This is a really helpful metric as it allows you to compare the revenue performance across campaigns as each campaign will have a different amount of recipients, and thus, different revenues.
- View-Through Rev/1k – the revenue per one thousand emails sent to people that either opened or clicked on the email. This metric takes some work (Daasity provides this out-of-box, btw) and it is a great way to think about the influence of email. The intent of email is to drive engagement. This metric helps you understand if people saw your email, opened it and then purchased later through a different channel.
Email isn’t just inexpensive, its effective. And in today’s current climate, where virtually all customer engagement is happening online, leveraging a channel that has stood the test of time is just good business.