Neglected Email Marketing Tools

by , October 15, 2014,

Over the course of a lengthy career in email, I have encountered more than my fair share of email RFPs. Contained within those documents are two indisputable truths:

1.     Much of the RFP is not about email at all, and

2.     A large portion of the request focuses on advanced features and functionality that the marketer will never use.

I understand the desire to partner with a vendor that can help you not only today, but that you’ll be able to grow along with. The challenge is that, even today, many of those “must-have” features aren’t being used, or not being used effectively.

I also understand that there are some brands out there doing terrific things with their programs, using the tools available to them and really innovating. If that is your brand, congratulations! You are the exception, not the rule. Too many brands just keep doing what they have always done either because it seems to be working just fine (so why change it?), they don’t have the time to even consider what else could be done, or some combination of both. Regardless of the reason, the fact remains that there is so much more that could be done. The list is long, but following are three capabilities that every email marketer should be taking advantage of:

Real-Time Subject Line Testing
Subject line testing is one of those things we have been talking about as an industry for more than a decade. The fact remains that it’s still important — but not in the same way it once was.

It used to be that marketers would test a subject line methodology that they would then subscribe to and use until they were ready to test again. Today, that just doesn’t work. What resonates with customers right now may not be the same as what would grab their attention tomorrow. So use those real-time, subject-line testing tools you have! Craft your subject lines, set them up, define what “winning” means, and let the system do the rest. There isn’t a single reason I can think of to not do this. Make it part of your process and let the testing begin!

Automated Programs
You may think you check this box because you trigger a single Welcome Message or Abandon Cart Message, but what I’m referring to is more involved.

Automated programs provide the option to react to a specific consumer behavior, action or inaction, in a predetermined manner. There are tools are out there that will allow you to map a path for each recipient to follow based on actions they may or may not have taken. The challenge for many marketers is taking the time to build the strategy behind these programs. They are certainly more work on the front end, but when done right, can be extremely effective — both for team efficiency and the bottom line.

Data — Yes, Data
You may not consider data a tool, per se, but it is. It’s a powerful tool that all marketers have at their fingertips. The amount of data you have may vary, but even if you just collect email addresses and send to your subscribers once a week, you still have data about them. Have they opened, clicked or purchased? These are all data points that you can leverage in determining what to send next.

There are certainly folks out there who believe less-targeted, broader communications are the way to go. And for some brands, that may work just fine, but in an era of  “me-minded” consumers, the better you can demonstrate your relationship and understanding of them, the better off your program will be (at least that’s what I’ve seen with the brands I’ve had the opportunity to work with.)

As email marketing folks, I have no doubt you are busy — and your time is a valuable commodity. But, as Steve Jobs once said, “Technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have a faith in people, that they’re basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they’ll do wonderful things with them.” So go on, do some wonderful things with the tools you have!

 
MediaPost | Email Insider

 

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