It isn’t that hard to start a simple email newsletter, but it is a challenge to create a well thought out email marketing strategy that brings home the bacon.

A good email marketing strategy will always pay out, but where to begin? Because biting off more than you can chew, could lead to not getting it done in the first place.

A realistic email marketing plan doesn’t only define the end goals. The strategic email marketer also maps the steps to get there. This often means a crawl, walk, run process. Taking steps in the right direction before you are able to implement the ideal email marketing plan. The following areas are where ‘perfect’ can stand in the way of good. So see how far you can reach on each of these areas and plan your steps on the road to develop a better email marketing program.

Abandoned shopping cart email

For ecommerce sites, the abandoned shopping cart email is highly effective. It can show conversions and revenue of 16x or more compared to the normal email marketing program. So triggered emails are definitely something to include in your email marketing strategy.

Ideal: A perfect abandoned shopping cart email would send a tailored email offer based on the individual product(s) left behind and the customers’ previous shopping behavior. Maybe even a series of emails and a re-marketing via other email messaging (like a newsletter or transactional email) Within a short timeframe after the abandonment.

Good first step: Getting an autoresponder in place that will send an general offer or reminder to the person that abandoned their shopping cart.

Calculating email marketing ROI

calculating email marketing roiEmail is famous for it’s high Return On Investment (ROI). Calculating email marketing ROI can justify additional investments when needed. It also shows strengths and weaknesses in an online marketing program. Yet, it isn’t always easy to get the right data and find the formula to calculate the ROI.

Ideal: The ideal ROI calculation will show you exactly how much acquisition costs were made per contact. It will show the production costs for each campaign, what sales and value can be attributed to different campaigns and to the complete email marketing strategy. In short, it will show you what works and what doesn’t work.

Good first step: Make an educated guesstimate about the resources that go into your email program, start monitoring your results and metrics. And find out where budget is wasted and the potential lies. It might just be 30 minutes work, but will already give ideas for email ROI improvement. You can already get some insights by trying an online email marketing roi calculator.

Testing and email marketing optimization

Email marketing is highly measurable. This is one of the reasons that A/B split tests have become popular tactic for improving email marketing results. By creating several versions of an email message, and using the winner email campaign results get an easy boost.

Ideal: Email optimization is ideally a continued effort for improvement. Structured in a plan with improvement goals and mixing split testing and improvement on current templates with out of the box content and refreshing designs and different offers. Both for general campaigns as for event driven / transactional mail and taking segment differences into account. Not only the email messages should be optimized, but the whole chain leading up to conversions and sales.

Good first step: An easy optimization is testing subject lines. But many get ‘stuck’ only testing subject lines. For a true first step, get some obvious best practices in place and use A/B testing to optimize your main email template for clicks and conversions.

Customer relevance in your email marketing program

We all strive for higher converting messages. With the right combination of data, strategy  and creativity we can create more relevant messages. More relevant messages will generally lead to higher converting and more loyal recipients.

Ideal: Ideally we would have an abundance of customer data, neatly transformed into actionable insights on a per customer level. The customer data, purchase behavior, contact data, preferences, email and site behavior are all linked and offer a complete customer view. With scoring, interest and profiling to create the ideal tailored message.

Good first step:
Unfortunately a lot of emailings are still batch-and-blast. Sending the same message to all recipients without any regards to customer profiles or preferences. A first step in blast rehab is to avoid non-interesting content across the board. By using available data and capturing (basic) preferences, we take a first step to segmentation of your marketing program.

Also consider your email frequency along with that target segment to ensure that you are hitting a relevant market at the right times (and not too often). This frequency can be different per segment.

Develop a better email marketing strategy

Email marketing strategy means thinking before doing. But that doesn’t mean we should postpone improving your email strategy while waiting for the ideal solution. The low hanging fruit can free up email marketing resources. Results can create management buy-in for improvements at a later time. So start with taking some good first steps, but don’t let the ideal solution disappear from the radar.