Q&A: Stephanie Miller, VP of email and digital services at Aprimo
Stephanie Miller, VP of email and digital services with Aprimo, discusses factors including campaign management, audience segmentation, customization and an investment in technology to make your email campaign pay off.
Direct Marketing News (DMN): What are the biggest challenges right now toward creating an effective email marketing campaign?
Stephanie Miller (Aprimo): The things that I see are really oriented around thinking about email marketing in a broader context of campaign management. That means that instead of just broadcasting messages to a list, you're managing your communications at the subscriber level, which means your doing segmentation, creating segments of your files to figure out which types of content to send to which types of people. You're trying to get the right message to the right person at the right time. You can't do that unless you're actively managing the data that you have on your subscribers and using that to create custom experiences for them.
DMN: How does that best happen?
Miller: It happens when marketers have access to the database and are managing email marketing as part of a multichannel campaign. So that's why you should look at it from the subscriber level instead of the list level. If you look at it from the list level, you are sending the same thing to everyone on the list, and that's usually not most successful way to engage and to energize your subscriber.
DMN: Are there marketers doing this better than others?
Miller: Yes, marketers who take the time to understand about their subscribers' interest. So they ask for and use the data provided on a form but they also create a different email experience, so they're sending different content and a different subject line to people in different life stages with your brand and people who are in different segments: a demographic segment like gender, or a behavioral segment like recent purchase. Most marketers have some combination of approaches they use, so will send some generic like everybody gets the Wednesday sale message. But then they are more purposeful with using the data to customize experiences based on everything we just talked about: whether the person active in social networks, gender, purchase data, behavioral data.
DMN: Are there industries doing this more effectively than others?
Miller: I think you can find examples of this in almost any industry. The differentiating points between marketers is not which industry they're in, but which approach they're taking. It's more about attitude than industry. There are many retailers, for example, who take on this attitude, and thy use campaign management software and database marketing in order to create custom experiences. It takes more effort and more investment in technology, but the result is more relevancy for your subscribers and the ability to create multichannel campaigns, so you can make more money, get more revenue out of the email channel.
DMN: Are marketers coming around to the need for that investment?
Miller: I think so. Every marketer paying attention to the data coming out of their email program realizes they need to do more segmentation and more customization in order to earn more revenue from the channel. It's not a question of knowledge but more a question of resources and having IT support and being able to make a business case for why this investment in technology and creative assets and staff or the training of existing staff. You need to make a business case for that, and many marketers still struggle with how to do that. But I think it is essential. If you as a marketer want your email channel to continue to grow revenue, you must continue to make these kinds of investments. You have to have the right attitude toward making these investments and testing out new ideas and collaborating with IT and with your technology partners to make this happen.