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How can e-mail marketers improve ROI in their e-mail campaigns?

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When looking at campaign ROI, marketers should closely examine both parts of the equation—the return and investment. The first is the return the campaign is yielding. The second is the cost associated with gaining those results. Both are important in determining if a campaign is achieving the apex of its potential.

The ultimate goal is to minimize costs while maximizing return. To do this, you need to first look at the processes your e-mail marketing team has in place. Is the e-mail campaign being executed in the most cost-efficient manner possible?

Second, look at the metrics to determine if the e-mail campaigns are yielding at least as much as you’re investing, from both a financial and human resource perspective. A recent study by Forrester Research suggested that about 50% of b-to-b marketers don’t use e-mail metrics to measure their results. Amazingly, even those who have the information available don’t bother to reference it in assessing campaign performance.

Third, examine the relative performance of the same campaign over time and as compared to others. If your results are lower or slipping, find out why.

Finally, take a critical look at the impact of your campaigns on your brand and lifetime value of your customers. Despite a positive campaign ROI, you may find that customers are disengaging because of blasting or over-mailing practices. If so, you’re making the most expensive mistake a marketer can make: eroding your customer’s loyalty and damaging your brand in the pursuit of short-term revenue. The signals are obvious (declining clicks, higher opt-outs, etc.), but sometimes masked by other factors if you’re just looking at top-line results. Dive into your metrics to find out what’s really happening.

All in all, relevancy is the key to success in e-mail marketing. While the content of your message will always be important, customers are becoming more finicky about their communication preferences and expect them to be respected in the frequency, timing and channel of your messaging. Consequently, your ROI is becoming increasingly dependent on getting the right message to the right person at the right time and place. If your results analysis doesn’t consider these factors, you risk not only losing your campaign investment by not generating sufficient revenue but also damaging your brand reputation and ultimately losing the loyalty of your customers.

Dave Lewis is CMO at Message Systems (www.messagesystems.com), a provider of e-mail software solutions.

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