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How can marketers adjust their e-mail programs in a slower economy?

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At a time when economic concerns are forcing companies to look carefully at marketing budgets across the board, e-mail is still an attractive option given its extremely high ROI. (According to the Direct Marketing Association, e-mail will generate $45.65 for every dollar spent in 2008.) To achieve that ROI however, you must look at allocating your spending so that every dollar is working to drive the maximum benefit.

The first step is to categorize and analyze the expenses associated with your e-mail programs, including the money being invested in database development, customer profiling and segmentation, strategy, e-mail creative, e-mail deliverability, e-mail production and e-mail deployment. Because highly targeted, tested and well-crafted e-mails almost always generate better results, you’ll want to make sure that you’re investing properly in these areas.

If you find that a lot of your budget goes to e-mail deployment, you should ensure that you’re leveraging the right solution to meet your needs. While many companies have historically outsourced e-mail marketing to e-mail service providers for lack of a viable alternative, the latest generation of in-house e-mail marketing solutions can enable companies to lower their costs by eliminating CPM fees, which increase alongside e-mail volumes.

The bottom line is that reducing your e-mail deployment costs will allow you to allocate more of your budget to strategic areas that can actually lead to increased conversion rates, such as A/B testing, dynamic content creation, database enhancement, transactional e-mail optimization and Web analytics integration. Spending your money on the areas that can make the most difference is always a smart decision, but even more so in a slowing economy.

Ryan Deutsch is director of strategic services at StrongMail Systems (www.strongmail.com), a provider of e-mail marketing solutions.

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