4 Data-Driven Strategies to Help You Ace Your Email Marketing Game
As a savvy marketer, you’re well-versed on the essentials of email marketing. But, are you covering all of your bases when it comes to truly mastering your craft?
Before I founded Daasity, I spent several years working for an online flower company– ProFlowers–and in that time, we sent over one billion emails per year.
By executing and analyzing thousands of successful campaigns, and let’s be honest, a few not so successful ones, I learned a ton about leveraging data from email insights to build and grow customer relationships while also generating tons of revenue. Here are a few of my email marketing lessons-learned and helpful tips for how to unlock powerful, data-driven insights, create more successful campaigns, better connect with your audience, and drive more revenue for your brand.
4 Data-Driven Strategies Learned From Sending One Billion+ Emails Per Year
1. Data First, Second, and Always
“What gets measured, gets managed” is a household saying for a reason: the numbers never lie. Nailing your data analytics strategy, in our humble opinion, is synonymous with nailing your email marketing strategy. Why? Because it removes all the guesswork. Without data, you’re flying completely blind.
Here are some of the metrics that matter most:
Email Sends — the number of emails that go out from your account to all of your subscribers. This will determine how much you will end up paying your email provider.
Email Unsubscribes — the total number of unsubscribes divided by the total number of emails sent. The industry average sits at about 0.5% and large spikes in your unsubscribe rate can affect your deliverability while driving your comms right to junk mail.
Open Rate – the number of unique opens over the number of sends.
Note: I mentioned unique opens because I want to understand what percentage of people opened the email.
Click to Open Rate – the number of unique clicks divided by the number of unique opens. I use this instead of Click Rate because this normalizes against the open rate. If I have a bad subject line my open rate will be low. If I have bad content in my email then my click-to-open rate will also be low. Using click rate muddles these and makes it hard to understand what didn’t perform well.
Direct Rev/1k – the revenue per one thousand emails sent (based on people that purchased by directly clicking on a link in an email). This is a really helpful metric as it allows you to compare the revenue performance across campaigns as each campaign will have a different amount of recipients, and thus, different revenues.
View-Through Rev/1k – the revenue per one thousand emails sent to people that either opened or clicked on the email. This metric takes some work (Daasity provides this out-of-box) and it is a great way to think about the influence of email. The intent of email is to drive engagement. This metric helps you understand if people saw your email, opened it, and then purchased later through a different channel.
Want to learn more about the metrics that matter most to your business? Daasity put together a series featuring bite-sized videos with tips and insights on the metrics most critical to business success. Check out all of our Data Snacks here.
2. The Power of Personalization
Whether it’s part of a killer campaign you’ve crafted or a thoughtful note to grandma, one thing remains true: love really is in the details. Sending personalized email messages to your customers isn’t just thoughtful, it’s good for your bottom line.
The top five benefits of personalization include increased visitor engagement (55%), improved customer experience (55%), improved brand perception (39%), increased conversion rates (51%), and increased lead generation and customer acquisition (46%).Evergage, 2018
And it matters more than ever now. Increased digital use these days is good for business, but it also means that brands will struggle to strike a note with customers amidst tons of online noise.
As a business owner, you have a unique insight into the customers who are receiving your emails and as such, should capitalize on your ability to send personalized emails that can help generate engagement and drive growth. Some of our best performing emails at ProFlowers were personalized based on data customers gave us.
When our customers told us about special occasions, birthdays, and anniversaries, we coupled that data along with their purchase history to generate content that allowed us to remind them when these dates were coming up while recommending products. We made the purchase process even easier by including links that took them straight to the PDP where they could instantly buy. These emails had a 10X performance improvement over our regular bulk campaigns.
Pro tip: Segment your audience. A simple way to get started is to use RFM (Recency, Frequency, Monetary) to create simple buckets of customers. Have they purchased in the last year (Yes/No) and have they purchased more than once (Yes/No)? Asking yourself these types of questions can help you determine the types of messages you should be sending, and how often (read more on that here).
Here are a few ways to segment your database so that you can prepare some simple, but targeted communications:
- Purchase 1x (<1 year ago) These are the people you’re ‘dating’. You like them but they haven’t committed. Get them excited to ‘call’ you with new product info, interesting stories, and what makes you better than everyone else.
- Purchase 2+ (<1 year ago) These are the people you love, your core customer. Get them excited with previews, etc. Make them feel special and offer discounts at different times (e.g., non-holiday, surprise and delight).
- Purchased 1x (>1 year ago) The date that went cold. Your goal here should be to re-engage and get them interested in your brand again. Try sending updates about your product or remind them to purchase the same item again (but try to avoid discount-focused promotions). More about lapsed-purchasers read here.
- Purchase 2+ (>1 year ago) An ‘old flame’. These customers were loyal at some point, so try to get them to re-engage by offering a discount.
Automation: Set It And (Don’t) Forget It
One area that almost all brands ignore is the new customer experience. Using automated workflows is one of the best things you can do. When a customer orders for the first time, this is not only your best opportunity to educate them about your brand, but also to learn about them and engage with them.
Using automations is key, but you’ll want to make it a practice to update them, too. It’s easy to turn on an automation and then forget about it because they work, but they don’t usually have a large volume in comparison to regular bulk email. Here’s why that’s a problem: doing so can result in your automated campaigns having worse performance over time. Why? Products, images, and other content in an email can be seasonal, meaning that your automations have a limited shelf life before they need to be reviewed, groomed, and updated.
You have to look holistically at your business to compare the content in your emails vs. how your business is performing so you can adjust accordingly. If it’s Summer and your automated emails are still promoting Winter coats, you’re going to lose a lot of engagement — and this can bubble up to impact your regular campaigns as well. That’s why at ProFlowers we reviewed all of our automations once per month to make sure everything was still relevant.
Content Is (Still) King
Every single email you send is a valuable moment to engage your customers and drive brand loyalty. Every single email you send is also loaded with data that you can use to refine your strategy. Looking closely at metrics like the ones we called about above on a regular basis is key because it can tell you so much about what is, and isn’t, resonating with your customers — and that usually comes down to content.
For example, if you notice that your open rates are looking good, but click-to-open rates are low (or lower than usual), that’s likely because what’s actually in the email isn’t driving real engagement.
Note: this is also a major reason why we recommend using open rate in tandem with other engagement metrics — because opens happen by accident all of the time.
Additionally, if your unsubscribe rate is higher than what you want it to be, it’s probably because you’re sending customers content too frequent or that’s too promotional. Most importantly, however, you need to look at transaction data on your marketing emails. Getting engagement matters, but if customers are clicking and not buying, you know you need to tweak your approach.
Put simply, you need to test your campaigns and see which subject lines or content works best for your audience.
Being data-driven about email means that you can take a scientific approach to the way you’re engaging your customers. It allows you to reliably test and test again the look and feel, the copy, and the CTAs in each email. Doing so means that you can optimize how you’re showing up in the digital space and help you to stand out from the crowd. And in today’s crowded and competitive digital environment, that’s more important than ever.