How relevant is your e-mail program?

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Relevance is a marketing buzzword that everyone uses. Your e-mail copy should be relevant. Your targeting must be relevant. Your list segmentation has to be relevant or you might as well just forget everything, right?

A report released this week—“Marketing Beyond the Status Quo”—from marketing solutions provider Responsys and marketing consultancy NxtERA Marketing takes a look at what it means to have a relevant e-mail program. In fact, according to the report, a large retailer recently achieved an almost 500% lift in revenue from its e-mail program by segmenting and highly targeting its e-mail messaging.

We interviewed Elana Anderson, founder of NxtERA, along with Responsys CMO Scott Olrich to discuss the new report and what marketers can do to add relevance to their own campaigns.

EMI: Why did you write this report now?

Anderson: The report is meant to help drive marketers forward. There are a lot of things we say that marketers should be doing, but what we find is that not all marketers are at the same stage. There are a lot of marketers that are broadcasting e-mailing to their entire list or not doing any targeting. Our purpose is to try and help marketers break down internal skill sets according to the four key competency areas [strategic, analytical, technical and process] and start working forward with an action plan.

EMI:You say marketers are all at different levels. Is there a commonality, though?

Olrich: We did find that most marketers fit between level two and three, where they have done some basic list segmentation and basic targeting and might have one or two e-mail programs; maybe they have a welcome program in place, but it might only be a single e-mail. It’s not a welcome series of e-mails, which would be the next big step. People still aren’t looking at the customer lifecycle. They’re not [yet] up to looking at the Web site, too, and building an e-mail program around cart abandonment yet. We talk about the need for integrated marketing and marketers say, ‘Yes, I need to get there,’ but they’re not even close.

EMI: How will this report help them move their marketing programs ahead?

Anderson: We’ve designed a self test to help people build an action plan. A good example of how this works: We take a balanced scorecard approach. We look at what they are doing manually, how many campaigns they’re using, if they have a strong understanding of the customer. The assessment helps them focus on what they are doing now and what they can automate.

EMI: What are some of the first steps most people end up taking once they review the assessment?

Anderson: They start looking for ways to react. So that idea of [e-mailing after a customer has abandoned the] shopping cart or, if the marketer ran a webinar, how can the marketer respond and react to those events [such as cart abandonment] automatically so they are instantly more relevant and customer-focused. If they are already doing basic targeting, add in responsiveness and integration between e-mail marketing and what you’re doing with other marketing programs.

To download the free white paper, which includes a self-assessment for marketers, visit

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