October 08, 2007

E-Mail Success, or E-Mail Failure?

Many of you now know that I'm a fan of e-mail marketing, but I'm not a fan of e-mail performance.

Any direct marketing activity that drives the volume (per e-mail) that e-mail delivers is immensely frustrating to me.

Sometimes, however, we get down on ourselves, when in reality there is room for optimism.

Take this example. In 2005, a company had an e-mail subscriber file that averaged 1,000,000 names. One campaign was sent per week, generating $0.15 per e-mail delivered. In total, the annual sales generated by e-mail marketing was 1,000,000 * 52 * $0.15 = $7.8 million.

In 2006, the e-mail marketing team was disappointed with the following results: The average subscriber file was 1,300,000 names. There were 60 campaigns during the year. Each campaign drove an average of $0.13 per e-mail delivered. In total, the annual sales generated by e-mail marketing was 1,300,000 * 60 * $0.13 = $10.1 million.

Was e-mail marketing a failure because productivity decreased from $0.15 per e-mail to $0.13 per e-mail?

Or was e-mail marketing a success because annual sales increased from $7.8 million to $10.1 million?

All too often, we focus on "SMALL" metrics. Open rates, click-through rates and conversion rates are all "SMALL". SMALL times SMALL times SMALL = Really SMALL!

Chief Executive Officers, Chief Financial Officers and Chief Marketing Officers don't like to hear about small metrics --- especially small metrics that decrease. Who wants to learn that only one in seven hundred recipients purchased from an e-mail campaign?

Executives like to hear about BIG numbers ... like an increase in performance from $7.8 million per year to $10.1 million per year. That's an increase of 29%, an increase of $2.3 million dollars. Those are BIG numbers.

When working with your leaders, focus on BIG numbers. Work your tail off behind the scenes to improve e-mail productivity. But when working with the highly paid folks, tell a positive story using BIG numbers.

1 comment:

  1. I hear you Kevin! Sometimes, analyzing web metrics is like managing a fantasy football team. You can overload yourself with facts and figures, but the key is to win--it does not have to be pretty.
    The metrics with small numbers are nice tools to help you keep an eye on patterns or for testing your ideas. However, it's the big picture and big numbers the execs like to see and share with their team.

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