Thursday, September 8, 2016

Email Marketing Budgeting Cheat Sheet

For most companies there's hidden ROI waiting to be found in 2017 Email Marketing Budget Allocations.


Innovative. Game Changing. Transitional.

^^ These are all terms that should come to mind when you think about your 2017 Email Marketing Budget. I've long written the tools available to marketers are years ahead of how they are being used. That's a good thing. 

For most companies there's hidden ROI waiting to be found in how they allocate their 2017 email marketing budgets. Here's a cheat sheet of items to review and consider.
  • Current KPIs vs. Future KPIs: YoY stats are a marketers friend. It makes for a nice visual to senior management and provides logic for email campaign decisions. There's a problem, what if some of those KPIs are outdated to measure success? 
Easy litmus test, if your organization places a premium on email database list size, pause. Pause because the names at the top of the list need to be cherished, and understood. The names at the bottom of the list, beyond pumping up the size of the email list, may provide no incremental value -- and in some cases might even create challenges delivering your message to the high value names at the top of the list.
  • Campaign Effectiveness: Invest in understanding how your email program functions in the current state. From email acquisition paths, to segmentation, to automated email messages designed to 1) improve customer journey, and 2) provide a lift to your KPIs. Consider allocating a percentage of your budget (and team's time) to email campaign audits, strategy development and testing email creative.
  • Integrations (in-house): Related to personalization consider what data you have in-house on an individual. How is it keyed? Example would include email address, customer ID, etc. Now think back to your full email list... How is this in-house data being used with the high value top of the list email addresses? How can it be used better? When possible make this data bi-directional. Yes, we want to have this data incorporated into the email campaign -- we also want the meta data associated with email interaction being shared back to these in-house data sources. Invest in strategy and whiteboarding customer journey enhancements with various stakeholders. 
  • Integrations (3rd party): Whether you call it omni-channel or multi-channel, today's Email Service Providers have a wealth of flexibility with integrating with 3rd party programs. If there isn't a widget, plugin, or application available to configure between the 3rd party and your ESP, there is likely an opportunity to use the ESP's API functionality to architect such connections. The term "API" makes some people nervous, don't let it. These integrations will bring your data to a new level and allow for better client brand interactions. It can also take a process that is burning lots of $$$ and/or manual hours to complete and make it automated -- both a great long term investment, and a chance to free up time in the day-to-day to focus on other performance opportunities within the campaign.
  • Deliverability: You sent X-number of emails, Y-number opened it, and Z-number converted. Many organizations are too weighted on X and Z. Worse, many are taking on more risk than they may be comfortable with, boosting X-number of sends up knowing it'll produce a higher Z-number of conversions (though with diminishing returns on the additional emails sent). What's missing, Y-number opened. Invest in auditing and understanding Y-number opens. Understand not only who is opening (automated + personalization opportunity), but how the opens are performing across the various ISPs such as Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, and Microsoft (Hotmail, MSN, Outlook, etc). This is the least sexy part of email marketing (see 2016 Email Deliverability Trends We Can't Ignore). View it like an insurance policy -- allocate budget here to hedge for a rainy day. If you have pressure to send a massive email to X-number of people, fight for this type of insurance. That big email a month from now could cause people the following week with a Gmail address to not get your email (not good for Z-number of conversions for those emails). Invest in auditing your email lists, confirming email authentication is present and proper DNS records are in place. Also confirm the leading spam filter companies not blacklisting your emails (whether for past sending reasons or false positives). Again this more like insurance, think ROI hedge -- heck in certain cases this can be viewed as an IT / Security budgeting item and not a marketing budget item. 

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