Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What's in your inbox? 10 questions on the difference between email + efail marketing

I checked one of my email accounts on New Year's day...late in the morning. In the account I set up for all manner of automatic notifications, I noticed five retail email offers, sent in the wee hours of the morning of January 1. And these weren't mainstream spam promising enhanced verility, hot dates, or internet riches.

No, these were offers for clothes, household goods, electronics and books from name-brand retailers: The same ones who'd been 'engaging' my inbox every other day for the 10 months leading up to--and flying through--Black Friday, Cyber Monday and every other special day in between.

I've worked with some great people on email and direct marketing campaigns...the best solutions were, of course, always about asking the right questions first. So, in that spirit, I have a few questions:

1. Was I seriously considered a prospect to purchase a sweater...or a kitchen appliance...on New Year's day?

2. Did the daily deployers figure that 60% of the email offers that are clicked are clicked in the first 24 hours and that failure to click meant I needed more frequency?

3. Was I really a target or was this mass media mail in disguise? I hadn't bought anything from two of the five retailers in more than 2 years; my total lifetime value at one of the five was less than $100. What made them think I would purchase a $1500 TV?

4. How did the 5th get my email? Do they know they got the one designed to collect trash?

5. If retail emailers see 'everyday' increasingly as the most popular day to send retail email, when will they ask me what day is the most popular day for me to actually receive it?

6.  If the going rate for spam distribution is $0.08 per thousand  [here], why do these retailers also spend on direct mail, newspapers and other vehicles to reach me when the cost is orders of magnitude more in CPM terms?

7. Does a consumer survey by the Chief Marketing Officer Council that found 22% of respondents saying they had decided to stop purchasing from a company because of too many or irrelevant e-mails, and that another 41% would consider doing the same, speak to a hidden cost of email marketing? 

8. Does the fact that "...only six percent of consumers feel that the promotions received through loyalty club communications are based on preferences or past purchasing behavior [here]"  say anything about the current state of integrating marketing, data, and customer loyalty communications for a majority of consumers?

9. Does the fact that the typical email user receives 12 promotional emails a day mean that email marketing  risks a run down a rabbit hole to irrelevance or, worse, to relevance only as spam?

10. Can retailers do better with analytics to know what works, and what doesn't, for which customers and prospects? Do they want to? 

I'd like to believe that the answer to this last question is 'Yes'.  Sometimes failure is an option, though.

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