Sunday, March 11, 2007

Email Tools and Forrester's Best & Worst of Email Marketing

Are you looking at different ways to evaluate your email effectiveness?

There are few different ways that you can evaluate email usability, effectiveness and ROI. I've found a few email tools and resources that you may find useful. Many of these tips are fairly obvious but how often are you checking to make sure that you and your team are following these best practices? Do you actually measure your overall email effectiveness in terms of ROI?

Measuring Email Usability / Effectiveness

If you're asking the following questions:
  • Is my email sign-up process fully optimized?
  • Can I improve my "from address" and subject lines?
  • Is my email design appropriate?
then check out Email Labs Email Marketing Usability Rating Calculator as well as the Email Evaluation Scorecard from Forrester (page 4 - provided by Responsys).

In the Forrester report: "The Best and Worst of Email Marketing of 2006", there are some useful tips for email marketers. For example, it outlines that the subject line should not only outline what is in the email but also what value the recipient will derive from it. American Express had a successful example: "book a Caribbean cruise and enjoy special offers”. Another useful tip is to test your email with the images disabled - are the call to actions still visible? In B2B, the average score for the Forrester Email Evaluation Scorecard was -0.8 (10 was a pass) which is horrible (that comment summarizes the report). I've created a way to score yourself using a new tool called InstaCalc. All you need to do is plug in your answers (either positive or negative) below and your score is calculated.

Measuring Email ROI

To measure email ROI it all depends on the type of campaign. If it's a straight up e-commerce campaign in which you can see the exact dollars that come directly from an email campaign, the following email calculator from MPlans may help you plan out your campaigns. Just plug in the audience size, your campaign costs (do this by holding and dragging your mouse up or down on the text field), the expected response (clickthrough rate) and conversion rate (number of sales in this case). You also need to know the average purchase price. Email Labs has a similar email ROI calculator.

For more complex sales, a more complex calculator is needed. Instead of just looking at number of sales, you would also want to know the number of lead, qualified leads, opportunities and eventually sales. In addition, one email campaign typically doesn't get you the sale. However, if you practice proper close loop marketing, you should be able to trace back closed opportunities to those that responded to emails. How do you do this? A number of different ways - I typically see clients use the campaign feature in their CRM. What is needed is an email engine that directly ties into this so that your company can track your email success and compare it to your other marketing channels. For example, email was tied to 90% of closed deals while our live events only accounted for 45%. This may be a bad example but you get my point.

What do you use to test the effectiveness of your email campaigns? Do you look at the stats, ask for feedback, calculate ROI?


PS - Here is another InstaCalc example over at the 50 Best Tools blog that allows you to plug in your email numbers to get basic metrics such as open, clickthrough and conversion rate. You can take this further to gauge these numbers against the industry benchmarks
PPS - This tool from the Advanced Marketing Institute evaluates your headline text. You can also use it for your email subject line. It lets you know the emotional marketing value which can be key in getting someone to click on your email rather then having it deleted.

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