4 New Year’s Resolutions You Can Actually Keep

Posted by George Bilbrey 

My track record in keeping my New Year’s resolutions is mixed, but I’ve been most successful when I’ve made one (or at most a few) feasible resolutions.

If you want to try the same approach with your email marketing program, I’d suggest considering the following projects, all of which can be achieved through minimal technical integration with your current ESP and team.

Drive a bigger list through more aggressive on-site capture. List size is a great “force multiplier.” A larger list allows marketers to drive more opens, clicks, and conversions from their current email marketing investment in technology and people.

To get a larger (and frequently higher quality) list, you must be aggressive at capturing email addresses from site traffic.  Ask politely for addresses at the end of a client visit through a lightbox-type popup. Place a header bar that includes the ability to subscribe at the top of every page. Test offers that might drive higher subscription rate (e.g., discounts, new/better content, premium features, etc.). With a little searching, you can find a wide variety of reasonably priced solutions that can help you capture more addresses from your web traffic.

Improve your list through analysis of list quality by source. As I’ve indicated in several previous articles, the makeup of your list (the percentage of addresses that are very active with commercial email) is one of the most important determinants of success in email marketing. A lively list that receives mediocre creative almost always outperforms a dormant list with excellent creative.

The way to improve something is to measure it. Measure list quality by “source” and double down on investing in sources that drive higher quality addresses.

The term “source” typically means the origin of the website traffic that led the visitor to sign up. Source can also mean acquisition methods outside the website, such as point-of-sales capture. Quality can be measured by measuring open, click, and transaction performance normalized for the length of time a subscriber has been on the list.

Run frequency/cadence tests. If you are losing less than five percent of your subscribers to unsubscriptions and  “report spam” complaints annually, you likely have an opportunity to send more messages per subscriber per week. Choose a randomly selected portion of your list to send more messaging to, then keep track of what happens on a per-subscriber basis. Are you seeing more opens, clicks, and transactions per subscriber? The answer is usually “yes.” How many incremental subscribers are you losing with increased sending? Calculate and expected lifetime value of clicks or conversions in the test and control groups to see if sending more email can drive more revenue.

Get rid of “rule of thumb” suppression rules. Many marketers have simple, rule of thumb suppression policies that are usually a function of custom (“it’s what we’ve always done”) rather than serious analysis. By reviewing several key factors (address source, how long the address has been on your list, how long since the subscriber has opened/clicked/visited the website/purchased), it is possible to create more finely tuned suppression rules that minimize the probability of throwing away perfectly good addresses.

What are you going to commit to this year? Happy holidays to you all.

This post originally appeared in Media Post.

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About George Bilbrey

George Bilbrey is the founder of the industry’s first deliverability service provider, Assurance Systems, which merged with Return Path in 2003. He is a recognized expert on the subjects of email reputation and deliverability and is active in many industry organizations, including the Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group (MAAWG) and the Online Trust Alliance (OTA). In his role as president of Return Path George is the driving force behind the ongoing innovation of our products and services. Prior to Return Path, George served as Director of Product Management at Worldprints.com and as a partner in the telecommunications group at Mercer Management Consulting. He holds a B.A. in economics from Duke University, and an MBA from the Kenan-Flagler School of Business, University of North Carolina.

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