Advanced Email Strategies to Boost Response Rates

John Harrison from Yesmail led this discussion. Among the measures the experienced email marketers in this group look at are Open rate, click-through, opt-in rates, channels they came through, time spent of site, net gain or loss of subscribers, what do the campaigns do to opt-out rate of a contact stream.

Conversion metrics typically used include new registrations, downloading a PDF, or whatever the objective of the campaign was. It all depends on the goal. Another organization has used inferred means, such as purchases over time. People who have more interaction with their email have been shown to have higher value.

Some have used email to test messaging for direct mail marketing. Intuit, for example, matches customer registrations (about 70 percent of purchasers register) against their email and direct mail history, to see whether people have gone online to purchase or purchased in a store.

Generic rental lists of email addresses typically have bad response rates. If companies have advertised with a magazine, however, renting that subscription list may be better. It’s important to scrub against your house list to be sure you’re not spamming. The key is to create a value proposition that causes them to register to become part of your house list. If it costs $200 per customer to acquire a customer through other marketing channels (e.g. TV or direct mail), a list rental may be cost-effective. It will never match the performance of your house list.

Email Strategies – John listed several subject areas to consider. We didn’t get to all of them, but if people have ideas to add in the comments, I know others would be glad to hear them.

Contact/Frequency — Ranges may be 3-5 times per month at max. Companies centralize management of the list to prevent various marketing groups from contacting the same people. For people who have requested a specific category of updates, they can get more than the basic rule would allow. Others are once per 30 days unless they have opted in.



Subject Lines — From address and Subject Line are overlooked elements, and should be user-friendly and tied to your brand. Purpose of the From address is brand and recognition. If you do that right you can have more flexibility with the subject line. The only purpose of the subject line is to get someone to open the message.

Creative — Gerber, for instance, does a series of Baby Center emails based on pregnancy phase, sending emails during each week letting expectant moms know what to expect. Petsmart created a Pet-of-the-Month contest to integrate into its email messages.



Emerging Media — Widgets branded for Desktop, RSS, SMS, Mobile delivery, social networks. Adoption of RSS is slow, limited mainly to geeks. Email is a glue that holds other channels together. It’s one thing that everyone “gets.” Even the social network sites have email notification options. That’s one reason they work well, because those who aren’t constantly living in Facebook get alerts through email or by text message.

Time to market/getting an email out the door — Political campaigns are great at timeliness, whereas some businesses can take weeks to take advantage of a timely opportunity.