Q. We hear a lot about how well email can generate conversions, but what, exactly, is a conversion in email?
A. Essentially, a conversion happens when someone does something you want them to do. In its purest form, an email marketing conversion is either an open or a click. However, marketers typically extend the definition of conversion to include any consumer action that has been influenced by an email. The initial click then becomes a micro conversion that leads to a macro conversion elsewhere.
Rather than simply measuring opens and clicks – which are vital, but somewhat meaningless to an organisation’s profit and loss statement – a conversion could be a purchase, a subscription, an event registration, a download, or a preference centre update, among others. Now we’re talking real dollars, real consumer engagement, and real data… giving you real results such as revenue, audience, and insights to do better marketing.
Email is consistently ranked as a top-performing marketing channel, but its results remain all smoke and mirrors for many organisations. If you can start reporting that “our latest campaign returned $15,000 in sales”, instead of “our last email saw a 55 percent open rate”, then you can expect your budget to grow.
Q. How can email help a marketer to increase conversions?
A. By moving away from broadcast email – the "batch and blast" model – and replacing it with "1:1" emails. This is the essence of First-Person Marketing, which uses customer data to create highly personalised content relevant to each customer, whether to a segment or in a triggered message, and using marketing automation to do it at scale.
When you send a single eDM to your entire audience, you connect with only a small percentage of customers, and it's completely at random. The conversions your email generates are due to more luck than skill. By using data to create content that reflects your customer's preferences and behaviour, your messages become more relevant and valuable, and you encourage customers towards that conversion – much the same as a retail assistant presenting you with an outfit that is your favourite colour, the right size, and in the right price range… there is a good chance that you would buy it!
Q. First-Person Marketing, segmentation, automation… aren’t these difficult to implement?
A. Research states that marketers typically use 20 percent or less of an email and marketing automation platform’s features because they simply don't know how to use the more advanced offerings. If you fall into that category, then either find a new provider or get them to help you out!
Strategically, these are not difficult concepts to grasp or implement. You don't need a complex set of data on each subscriber in your database to begin creating subsections of your database that share one or more characteristics (gender, location, previous purchase, etc.). In fact, you can start if all you have are an email address and the date it entered your database: Create a segment with new subscribers and send a special onboarding email (see previous page).
Most email marketing platforms offer some level of marketing automation these days. If yours doesn’t, then find a new provider. If yours does, then give it a go. However you may find that the problem isn’t that the feature itself is not available, but instead lies around lack of data integrations to drive the relevant triggers – this simply needs to be scoped out, or lack of service and support to help turn your ideas into actual implementations – this comes down to your vendor.
Q. What can marketers do right now to improve their conversion rates and generate higher ROI?
A. The most important thing is to understand that you can't do it all right away – you can't jump from broadcast email to triggered and targeted messaging, using dynamic content and creating 1:1 experiences for every subscriber. That shift can take years ago to accomplish. Besides, you still need to get your campaigns out the door. It's like living in a house while you renovate every room all at the same time. It's also hard to know where to start if you don't know what to fix first. Instead of trying to launch a full-blown program, which could take more than a year, take it one step at a time.
First, find something you could change in your next campaign – a new trigger, a new call to action, anything that doesn't call for major upheaval. Make the change and measure your results. Then, next week, change something else. Now you're trying two new things. The week after that, add another change to the two you've implemented already.
Build on your incremental innovations every week if you can. Before too long, you'll look up and see how far you've come.
- Contact Rob Hollier at Adestra: firstname.lastname@example.org
This story is part of a paid partnership with Adestra.