Email. Even with all the new communication channels, email continues to have the broadest reach. For example, open rates on emails vary by industry, ranging anywhere from 17% to 27%, while only around 2% of a brand's Facebook fans will see any given post.
Yet the DMA’s 2017 Email Marketing Tracker revealed that only 11% of brands involve the CMO in their email marketing activities. The lack of CMO investment in email marketing is reflected in marketing budgets. Despite email marketing having a 38-to-1 ROI, global CMOs are only allocating 15% of their budgets to it.
Maybe these CMOs think email marketing is too down market for their brand, or that a junior marketing associate task is not worth their attention. Perhaps they're happy with the 10-to-1 ROI their email marketing efforts achieve and devote their attention to developing other marketing channels.
But the fact is, any CMO who leaves email marketing to their most recent junior hire, or doesn't actively monitor their teams' email campaigns, is leaving money on the table.
Let's say a company is getting a 10-to-1 ROI from its marketing (although if the CMO isn't engaged in it, they probably aren't). Imagine the case they could make for more budget to fund all sorts of channels and initiatives if they could show maximized ROI on email. Optimizing email ROI provides a funding source for all the other more advanced marketing campaigns that can provide even better results for the business.
CMOs need to get re-engaged with email marketing. Here's where to start:
Analyze current performance
A CMO who's disengaged from email probably doesn't have a good view of what their email campaigns are doing, or whether they're taking advantage of the most effective email tactics including content personalization and behavioral triggers. These email tactics make sure that the most compelling content is getting in front of the right people at just the time they're most likely to act on it.
This benchmark analysis will also show the state of the company's list. How many subscribers are dormant, never opening an email? How many past customers are getting emails but haven't made a recent purchase? Which current email campaigns have the best performance and which had the worst?
Now armed with some benchmarks, it's time to get actively involved.
Improve List Segmentation
Ensure that there's a segment for each persona. Cross-segment these lists by whether the subscriber is a prospect, abandoned prospect, active customer, dormant customer. Make sure that future campaigns aren't email blasts, but are targeted communications to a specific list segment. People want personalized and relevant emails. As a matter of email marketing best practices, the CMO needs to ensure that all future campaigns meet this threshold.
Up-train Your Team If Needed
The current performance analysis should have revealed where the strengths and weaknesses in a company's email performance are. If the marketing team (including the disengaged CMO) need refreshers and up-training on how to get the best results from email campaigns, get that done or look for outside experts who can assist the team.
Make Sure Emails Are Mobile-Optimized
As of March 2017, more than half of email is now opened first on a mobile device. Emails that aren't readable on mobile aren't read. They're worse than a waste. They're an annoyance that damages the brand. In the current performance analysis, take a look at how email campaigns performed on mobile. Look at company marketing emails on different mobile devices. How's the experience? Good? Poor? Pick a couple of past campaigns and optimize them for mobile, and run them again.
Run a Retargeting Campaign
Email is awesome for reconnecting with abandoned prospects and dormant customers. This is also where some of the best ROI is since the high cost of acquiring the prospect or customer has already been paid. Identify a target rich segment based either on their past behavior or because their interests align with a new product and campaign the company is about to roll out. A retargeting campaign is a great place to find low hanging fruit to boost email performance.
Conduct A Survey
Email is a great two-way communication channel. Take the opportunity to hear directly from your list about what they'd like to see in your emails. Most people initially subscribed with the hopes of getting discounts and hearing first about sales and special offers. That may or may not be true for every company's list. Do they want more information on how to use what they bought? Or would they rather hear stories about how others are using it? Do they want to receive expert how-to advice? Or do they simply want to make sure they have first pick when there's a sale?
Emails Deliver the Brand Image – for Good or for Bad
Any company sending marketing emails is regularly presenting their brand directly in subscribers' inboxes. Brand image and management is the CMO's direct responsibility. If people ignore a company's emails or worse, feel harassed by a constant stream of irrelevant, bothersome emails, that directly reflects on the brand. A CMO who doesn't provide active direction and leadership in managing the brand's email strategy and execution is frankly, leaving their own reputation and performance in the hands of others.
Email is a marketing workhorse. CMOs needs to start working it.