If there ever was such a thing as an “opt-in for life”, it is well in the past. Permission Marketing has been silently replaced with its brother; tease marketing, continuously building on a brand relationship based on mutual interest.

The challenge is no longer just about matching message, timing and recipient, but also in presenting an – already in itself – appealing and attractive message. This demands that we benchmark our email marketing efforts in a different way.

Presenting an – already in itself – appealing email marketing message

There are plenty of opportunities for email marketers to rise above mediocrity. Even a seemingly simple tactic like segmentation of your email newsletters can have a great positive impact. According to econsultancy research, marketers that use segmentation say their ROI is very good 95% more often than those who don’t. It is a sign on the wall. Optimized marketing pays off, sending less irrelevant emails too, but there are also other forces at play that demand a different way of looking at engagement and benchmarking.

SEO shows what the core of engagement is about

Let’s take an example from another digital discipline. There is a thriving SEO industry built around one of the most well-known filters in the world: Google. The rules for premium (first page) placement in Google seem to change daily, keeping up with the misuse of quick-win-low-value tactics.

How do search engine algorithms determine what is interesting and what is not? Fortunately there is one constant: behaviour of users indicates that certain content is interesting, is rewarded. The reverse is also true: Negative behaviour ensures that messages are filtered out more often.

We crave a new benchmark method for email marketing

Companies want to know where and how they can improve their email marketing engagement. Often we look at the market and competitors, in order to create a truly helpful email marketing benchmark.
Unfortunately, there is little use in benchmarking activity on the standard metrics (opens , clicks , etc. ) because of their superficial value.

A bit exacerbated: “We have a higher or lower click-through rate” as a benchmark, is not actionable. It can give you a ballpark feeling, you might conclude that you need to do better, but that was already our the starting point. Thus, a new method of benchmarking needs to be created if you want to benchmark your competitors, based on their actions.

The tease factor is an indication of the allure and magnetism of an email. An indication of the extent to which you encourage your recipients to be active and engaged. Think about the combined influence of imagery, offers, text and the right Call-to-Actions.

The intensity of the customer messaging

A strong customer relationship includes a higher level of tolerance and allows for more contact moments, and even more sales opportunities. A strong welcome email can give that relationship a flying start. While you must keep in touch, frequency should not be exaggerated. The second metric we introduce is the Recipient Intensity Factor.
How intense your messages are experienced in the inbox among others depends on:
• Frequency of contact
• The type of message
• The sculpting of your subject lines

That data is also turned into a weighted score: the recipient intensity factor. This puts your email in a box: the desired, skippable or interruptive.

The four quadrants of Recipient Intensity versus Tease Factor:

Combine the Recipient intensity with the personal perception of quality and seductiveness (tease factor!) and four quadrants appear.

Hidden Persuaders (high tease, low intensity)
Introverts (low tease, low intensity)
Actives (high tease, high intensity)
Informants (low tease, high intensity)

Plenty of untapped potential

There is plenty of untapped potential in the email marketing space. By only taking a look at this 5 Stage Email strategy template from Smart Insights, you will quickly realize there is plenty of potential growth for most.

Let me give an example that came from a research we did in the automotive industry: 21% of automotive brands in a research we did, never sent a single email after registration. The majority (63%) of car brands sends monthly or less. There are hardly any welcome emails sent.

This means that a new registrant and potential hot lead doesn’t get his first touch until weeks later. I was shocked. Failure to follow up after showing interest against all laws of marketing (if there were any) and has no place in the mind-set of a direct marketer.

What would your ideal tease and intensity be? I have seen brands being seduced to take a route in their email marketing strategy that made them end up in a different quadrant than they would like to be.

Image via Het Nieuwe Instituut (cc)