While the results from multichannel marketing can be spectacular, so much comes down to planning and execution that takes nothing for granted, combined with an unerring focus on the behaviours and preferences of the customer. Jason Sullock, UK Digital Marketing Manager at Zeta Interactive, presents a checklist to ensure maximum success
Turning the handle faster and faster isn’t the best way to evolve your marketing. Today’s campaigns are an always-on, ever-moving feast, and that makes taking the time to analyse results difficult. Marketers can become fixated on getting the next campaign out of the door. And that’s a big mistake. Specifically, plan time into the campaign schedule to test, measure and review activity to keep engagements relevant and maintain customer engagement levels. If you can’t plan time in, it’s incumbent on your CEO to force you to do so. Yes, it’s that important.
Don’t over-focus on creative
Marketing roles are changing dramatically. The trend is away from being creatively led, to being analytically driven. This is not a new phenomenon and it has long been recognised that the increase in response rates from good data far outweighs the effect of good creative (i). What has changed is the ease with which marketers can handle and gain insight from a huge volume of data from a huge variety of data sources.
This means that today’s marketers need to be more focused on data insights than whether a campaign ‘looks good’. Disparaging to creative teams? Not a bit of it! Just an acceptance that marketers are time-poor and should concentrate on what will give them the best return for their time, and leave the creative to the creative team who should be the experts.
Make sure your emails are actually being delivered
Many marketing managers simply don’t realise how few of their emails are actually being delivered into their target’s inbox. ISPs are constantly changing their blocking and filtering technologies to protect their customers from spam and virus infected emails, so when they see huge volumes of the same email, or regular cycles of the same activity, or keywords or phrases within emails, they automatically start down-grading the sender’s reputation. Acquiring a good email sender reputation is optimal for building success as a marketer. So, when the best marketing agencies begin campaigning on behalf of a client, they build up volumes and cycles slowly and intensively monitor the copy, ensuring their sender reputation is kept high. Here are four pieces of advice for building an excellent email reputation.
1. If the messaging isn’t relevant and interesting to the user, it will be overlooked. To ensure relevant emails, senders must utilise trigger technology and conditional content messaging to communicate in a timely and personalised manner.
2. Avoid list fatigue from over-emailing and sending to entire lists. Senders can avoid it by tracking responsive readers and avoiding those that are entirely unresponsive. Open rates as well as click rates are a very good indicator of engagement, and should also be closely monitored.
3. Control spam complaints and spam traps by maintaining a list of recipients that opted-in to receive the emails. Sending emails to those who asked for them, making emails relevant and keeping a clean list will all help in reducing complaints.
4. Preferential treatment is afforded to good senders who are on ISP whitelists. There are also a few external whitelists like Return Path who certify IPs for good senders. Return Path maintains a relationship with several ISPs globally. Being on a whitelist does not guarantee a straight path to the inbox, but it certainly helps high volume senders reach their customers in a timely manner.
Personalise wherever possible
Personalisation works. In many cases it has been shown to improve response rates by up to 50 per cent (ii). People just love seeing their name, especially when it’s used within context rather than simply dotted throughout a campaign piece. In fact, the more personalised a marketer can make a campaign the better. A ‘handwritten’ note added to a direct mail campaign will out-perform one with no note by up to 49 per cent (iii). By adding images with ‘handwritten’ elements this holds true for digital campaigns too.
We live in a mobile world, and we can’t predict where or when our emails are going to be opened. The latest figures suggest that at least 43 per cent of all emails are now opened on a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet, and that a responsive email is 15 per cent more likely to be clicked than a non-responsive version (iv).
Get your targeting right
It’s worth expanding on the differences between the best and the worst data. The best data will often out-perform the worst data by a factor of six, and this all comes down to the magic word ‘relevance’.
Marketers are increasingly seeing data as having a ‘variable shelf-life value’. In other words, each type of data is more valuable in certain situations and, indeed, changes value depending on timing, place, channel and point in customer lifecycle. So, for instance, real-time abandoned basket data is extremely valuable immediately after abandonment, but decreases in value with time. The reason this shift in thought is occurring is because marketers now have the ability, as more and more enterprise and mid-market companies take on-board multichannel marketing platforms and real-time decision making to create dynamic responses. In one recent study, marketers who incorporated real-time data into their campaign segmentation delivered 172 per cent more revenue than those who didn’t(v).
Get to the point
Say what you mean in as few words possible. In a 2005 article (vi) – a marketing lifetime ago – the amount of time customers spent reading an email was believed to be 15 to 20 seconds, with the reader’s eye hopping around the email like a grasshopper. This left the marketer with approximately two to three seconds to get their message across. Continued fragmentation of both channels-to-market and technology means it’s only become harder since.
Always make sure you can report on your campaigns
No results, no proof. No proof, no insight. No insight, no progress. No progress, no hitting KPIs. The great chain of causality.
Write the brief!
It’s the basics, but you’d be surprised how often it doesn’t happen. Taking the time to write a brief beforehand helps marketers focus on getting all of the above as nearly right as possible – given the pre-campaign knowledge available – and doubles up as a yard-stick to measure levels of actual success once you’re able to report on response rates.
i. The typical multiplication difference on conversion between best and worst data lists is x6; whereas the typical multiplication difference on conversion between best and worst creative is x1.35
ii. “Commonsense Direct and Digital Marketing”, Drayton Bird
iii. “Yes!”, Noah J Goldstein, Steve J Martin, and Robert B Cialdini
iv. “The Science of Email Clicks: The Impact of Responsive Design & Inbox Testing”, Litmus.com Report, December 2014
v. “The Value of Multichannel Real-time Segmentation”, Relevancy Group, David Daniels, Nicholas Einstein, John D. Polcari, Amy Jones
vi. “Alarming Research Results: Average Email Open Time is 15-20 Seconds — Recommendations for Emailers”, Marketing Sherpa