How to get the most from your e-mail campaign

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Are you getting the most from your e-mail marketing campaigns? The following questions will help you out.

How do you welcome new subscribers to your program? Keep new subscribers out of your regular communication stream. Contact them twice as often for the first few months. Welcome messages can drive customers to preference centers to deepen their engagement — and provide valuable profile information — remind them of program benefits, and set expectations about future content that they'll receive.

What are you doing with unengaged or “lapsed” customers? Between 20% to 50% of the addresses on most house lists are dormant, i.e., not clicked or opened a message in 12 months. Recognize these inactive customers, tell them they are missed and ask them to update their preferences. Try “sweeter” offers to reengage this lapsed audience. Too often online marketers look at campaign performance indicators rather than customer engagement metrics when determining a program's success.

How do you drive the dynamic content in your e-mails? Start with join date, last response (open, click), conversions, etc. Try domain-based campaigns, i.e., sending consumer domains (AOL, Yahoo, MSN) on weekends and business domains on weekdays. Basic data can drive re-engagement messages, cross-pollination and cross-sells.

What have you learned from recent tests?  Campaigns should test something, whether an A/B split test of subject lines, or multivariate tests of combinations of content or placement. A/B tests generate 3% to 10% lift in response while multivariate tests drive a 20% to 80% incremental lift in revenue per campaign. Timing, targeting and frequency are important variables.

Is your e-mail contact strategy mapped to your customer buying cycle? Campaigns tend to reflect campaign calendars and seasonal product promotions. Use the e-mail channel's ability to reach people at the right time — consider overlaying a typical customer shopping cycle on your campaign calendar to see where opportunities are out of sync or missed altogether. While auto manufacturers can tune campaigns to test-drive prospects, maintenance buyers and the need for re-purchase, other purchases are much more sporadic and difficult to predict. So integrate Web site and search activity to drive communication as a purchase (or up-sell) decision is made.

Listen to your customers in terms of activity, interests and response, and keep your campaigns customer-centric. Asking the right questions of your program will get you started.

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