Collecting addresses for email marketing
It can be frustrating staring at a blank sheet of paper or squinting from the glare of an empty Word document, whilst waiting for inspiration to help you plan your email campaign to obtain email lists for direct email marketing. Rather than continually visiting the coffee machine, a better option is, as with most complex tasks, to break the plan into smaller units.
Many find it best to start with a target, a mission statement, a creative brief, a direction, call it what you will, but we will call it a target and define it as a summary of what you want to get out of the email campaign. Everything else can be built on that foundation.
A target has lots of things going for it. It can show those involved what the point of the email campaign is. It can be very useful if your campaign involves other departments or agencies. A simple, straightforward, clear and comprehensive target should mean that everyone is working for the same result.
So how do you choose a number of email addresses to aim for? The fact that you can make more money from an email address than it takes to collect it might well lead you to consider going for every one out there. What could possibly put a limit on your aspirations?
You are probably well ahead of me here and your first thought might well have been budget. A target will be limited by your budget.
You should have a target, a figure that will mean you can cope with fluctuations in completions, and perhaps demand for your product or services on offer, without requiring massive additional investment in staff or resources, or, just as importantly, that your are efficient in their use and deployment.
Many costs are fixed. These would include:
- The rental for the bought-in list
- The creation of the emails
- Any supporting campaigns
- The costs of creating and maintaining the microsite, including the supporting pages, such as notification of successful completion, or the error page.
- These are ‘fixed’ in the sense that they are not dependant on the number of subscribers who opt in. There are variable costs, including:
- The offer, to include fulfilling any orders and the cost of any back-up offer
- The cost of documentation, including systems and staff to record the information
- Follow-up enquiries
- The target figure will enable you to calculate the amount you can invest in fixed costs. The email campaign must support the brand identity in terms of quality and style. Whilst the lad on work experience might be somewhat cheaper than a graduate graphic artist, you might consider the harm a poor quality email template presentation might do to your brand image.
An integrated email campaign, one that uses multiple disciplines for obtaining email address, will require similar standards of image in all aspects. Training can be a considerable drain on the budget but not as much as ignorance.
The investment in a microsite can be spread over a number of email campaigns. It is easy enough to modify the appearance and specific content while the regular items remain the same. Each email will require such things as links to a privacy statement, terms and conditions together with contact address and telephone number.
Once the fixed costs have been considered the target figure can be used to calculate the variable costs.
For the offer to be tempting the price must be lower, or more benefits must be included, than the email recipients can obtain in normal circumstances. Whilst an item that costs you £10 will return a profit if offered at £12, if it was selling well in normal circumstances at £15 this is a cost of the campaign.
Adherence to targets stops you raising expectations only for them to be dashed. If the 4* holiday in the Algarve proves more attractive than you initially believed it would be then subscribers might be reluctant to give their email address if they suddenly are told that it is now a 3* in Brittany even if they might have opted for that if it had been on offer originally.
Some people are reluctant to subscribe via email, wanting to discuss matters with the company involved. You can, of course, abandon these but even so they will still put pressure on your call centre staff. There will be some element of training but the main implication of the extra work is extra staff or, perhaps, removing staff from some other function temporarily. Either way it will cost, and how much depends on how many calls are expected to be received and over what period.
Further, there will be follow-up enquiries from the offer from other contacts who did not receive the email campaign, whilst these will be spread out over a longer period, they should also be accounted for.
So a target figure, or indeed figures, can help you plan your budget and also limit the variable costs.
If you use a bought-in list you might be concerned that you have underestimated or overestimated the likely completion rate. You do not want your staff overwhelmed by the demand nor do you want them organising a card game to overcome the boredom. You could, perhaps, try dipping your toe in the water by using a percentage of the list to test responses. If the completion rate is higher than your planed target then you have a decision to make. Do you increase staff or spread the sending of the emails over a longer period.
In an integrated campaign you have the additional possibility of fine tuning the response by increasing or decreasing their input.
If you have used, for instance, a third party newsletter, or other medium you have limited control over, as a part of your email campaign then you must ensure that you have built into your campaign a degree of flexibility to cope.
If conversion rates are disappointing then it might make more financial sense to modify the offer to make it more attractive rather than have the costs of staff draining your budget without return. The only way of deciding whether this ideal or not is to have an accurate target.
Of course, this does not help much in deciding what figure to pick. How can you decide where to stick the pin? It might be better to ask what the figure is for. What purpose does it provide?
You want the email lists for a direct email marketing campaign. So you should have a figure in mind, an optimum, and this should be the basis of your target.
Let us assume you have your budget, you have your target, you have your rented list and you have other email collection exercises going on. You press the button for your campaign to start and you await the first returns.
With the first clump of reporting data assessed you are able to work out if the demands on your support resources are within the bounds you had anticipated. If not then the campaign needs to be tweaked to increase or decrease the conversion rate or, perhaps, you might want to delay or bring forward the start date of the email shot.
Wipe from your mind any conception of the target for collecting addresses for direct email marketing being a success or fail figure. It is purely one of campaign management. Despite the word being used in singular form throughout this article, there is nothing against, and a lot for, having a number of targets.
For instance you might have an initial target figure for conversions which will signify the breakeven point. The one for a sufficient return on investment. But these are just figures for reassurance. Much more useful would be a daily conversion figure for the minimum number of completions for efficient use of resources and a maximum figure which would stretch them. In the case of the latter being reached you would then have to decide if you should recruit more staff, accept a delay in documentation or slow the email campaign.
Having such targets is especially useful when using email collection methods over which you have little control, such as a viral email marketing. One that catches the public’s imagination might seem to be the Holy Grail of virals but if you do not monitor the figures and compare them to targets there is every chance of such a great response being wasted or actually affecting your campaign negatively.
The fact that targets are there for management purposes and are not to be used to beat staff about the head should be communicated to your team. And, of course, to those above you. A successful email campaign is one where the budget has not been exceeded, your staff have been fully employed without being under so much pressure that they made errors, and that you have an adequate return on investment.
Or, to put it another way, when you have hit or exceeded your target.