Now that the calendar says it is spring (I know, several folks in the Midwest and Northeast may disagree), it’s time to start thinking about email spring cleaning! Spring is a great time to take a step back from your email marketing program and identify ways that you can optimize, enhance, or test your current program to make sure it’s in great shape heading into the busy second half of the year. Here are a few areas to focus on and questions to ask yourself as you perform a seasonal audit.
Where to start
How about we start with simply making sure that your messages are getting to the inbox? Deliverability is always important, but now is the time to identify any weak areas within your email program. Here are some things to look at to make sure you’re in good standing with the major ISPs:
- Make sure you’re following best practices for maximizing deliverability. This post from our friends at Pardot gives you five important things to look at.
- Check your Sender Score.
- Run an inbox test – either through a service like Return Path or by including a test list with the major ISPs on a recent promotional deployment.
Build your list
Acquisition is key to the overall health of your email program. Ask yourself, “How is acquisition going?” No matter how strong your acquisition efforts currently are, you can always gain from acquiring more subscribers. In addition to optimizing your website for acquisition, make sure you have optimized every channel for email acquisition.
- Are you acquiring more email subscribers than you are losing through natural churn? If not, do some thinking about how you can acquire more quickly, and about how you can stop the bleeding.
- Identify your top sources of acquisition. Monitor the performance of each of these acquisition sources to determine where you are getting the most return.
- Do you have new sources of acquisition identified for the end of 2014? You should. Holiday season is right around the corner.
Engagement is a big factor in determining whether or not your email is going to land in your subscriber’s inbox. Take some time to perform some data analytics to find who your most engaged subscribers are and put strategy around how to target them differently than those subscribers whose interest is waning or completely gone.
- Who are your most engaged email subscribers? Are these subscribers also your most loyal purchasers? If so – great, you have the perfect audience group setup for testing loyalty programs, new product launches, and value-add emails that aren’t as promotion driven. If there is a disconnect between your most engaged email subscribers and your most loyal purchasers, then you need to dig deeper to solve for the disconnect.
- Who are your least engaged email subscribers? Are they also not purchasing often – if at all? This is a great opportunity to develop a winback campaign to re-engage those subscribers that are still interested and to gracefully stop sending to those subscribers that just aren’t interested in your emails. You don’t want the dead weight of unengaged subscribers on your list – it provides a bad brand experience for the subscriber and harms your reputation as a sender.
- Who is in the group with waning engagement? That is your group with the most opportunity. A well-crafted survey could re-engage these subscribers as well as provide you information about how they want to be marketed to, how often they want to marketed to, and what they want you to send them.
Trip their trigger
Triggered emails are sent as a result of an action taken by your email subscribers. We already know that triggered emails make up less that 5% of the average email volume, but can be responsible for over 20% of email marketing revenue, which is why it is so important to optimize these communications. Ask yourself the following questions about your triggered programs:
- Are you sending triggered emails?
- Of those triggered emails, are you leveraging my e-commerce data to inform my strategy?
- Are you sending the major triggered emails? How can you optimize them if they’re already in place? If they’re not in place, what do you need to do as an organization to make them happen?
- Abandoned Shopping Cart
- Welcome Series
- Post Purchase Series
- If you already have the big triggers in place, what can you do next to grow your program? Think about adding in these other triggers to help drive engagement:
- Birthday Email – their birthday or your birthday (or both!)
- Anniversary Email – observe the date they opted-in, made their first purchase, or maybe even an actual wedding anniversary if you have access to that data
- Value-added content – if you generate content as a brand, an email with value-added content will improve your reach and further drive engagement with your brand.
Fit the screen
Responsive design is the way to code your emails now, and if you’re not currently coding for responsive design, the time to make that change is NOW. DEG has put together a ton of references to make the case for responsive design. Here’s a roundup of those resources to help your team get started:
- Video: How responsive email design works
- Case Study: How responsive design can increase mobile revenue
- Case Study: How responsive design can increase subscriber engagement
- Tutorial: How to efficiently build responsive emails
In addition to designing for the mobile experience, don’t forget to design for enhanced inbox environments. With Gmail’s new Pinterest-like grid layout for their Promotions tab, it is even more important to optimize your design for every possible environment in which your subscribers might interact with your message.
Need some help getting started on your spring cleaning? I’d love to help as long as you don’t make me vacuum! Send me a tweet @hornerjm to get started.