Increase email effectiveness with prioritizing and testing

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Ryan Phelan, VP of strategic services, BlueHornet Networks
Ryan Phelan, VP of strategic services, BlueHornet Networks

As marketers continue to invest in email, their expectation that the channel will deliver higher response rates increases. However, research indicates that the majority of companies using email do not currently employ industry best practices.

There are two common barriers to increasing your email campaign effectiveness: either your technology platform makes advanced programs complicated to build and launch or you don't have the time and resources required to implement them. In either case, here are five steps you can take to build a strategic email marketing plan:

  • Identify your biggest challenges. Maybe you're unclear where your subscribers are within the customer lifecycle, or you're challenged to use content for targeting. Whatever it is you're struggling with, write down a list of what you want to work on over the next six to 12 months. You don't have to conquer these goals all at once.

  • Fix what's broken. Before you tackle your to-do list, take advantage of the low-hanging fruit. It's easy to “set and forget,” so conduct an audit of the elements you have running in your current email program and make adjustments as necessary. Clean your list, review your welcome and transactional messages, and make sure the program is currently running the way it should.

  • Find out what you're missing. You might be surprised at the number of specific business objectives you can drive outside of a weekly offer email. If your database is small, try a text messaging or social acquisition program. If you have a large number of inactive subscribers, you might consider introducing a win-back program. If these programs aren't turnkey in your email platform, consult your ESP's strategy team to learn how to implement them.

  • Prioritize your objectives. The number of programs an email marketer can implement is daunting, but it doesn't have to be a complicated process. Assign the programs you want to deploy to the appropriate stages of the engagement funnel — acquisition, subscribers, purchasers, loyalists and influencers — then start at the top and work your way down.

  • Test, execute and measure. Run a preliminary A/B test to determine which messages resonate most with your subscribers, then evaluate the final results of the campaign to determine what changes to implement next time. Regardless of how many case studies you might have read, you'll never know what will work for your brand unless you test it.
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