Email, Email Marketing Advice

Your ESP has ESP – Use It

Is there a marketing medium in history as routinely underutilized as email? Not in terms of volume – few folks outside prison are clamoring for more messages in their inbox. But in terms of using the full capabilities of the medium, the vast majority of email marketers are just scratching the surface, and I don’t get it.

Email marketing ESP 300x243 Your ESP has ESP   Use ItEven the most basic email program should provide you with this data about each of your recipients:

  • Whether they routinely open email from you, and if so, when (for today, let’s set aside the fact that open rate is an unreliable metric)
  • Whether they routinely click links in emails from you, and if so, when.
  • What types of links they click, images or text
  • What types of links they click, by content type
  • Whether they keep your email in their inbox and open and click over and over

If you add some simple subject line testing, from line testing, time of day testing, and day of week testing to that data, you could (and should) create a robust, scientific email program that geometrically improves your results.

  • The right subject line
  • The right from line
  • The right time to send
  • The right layout
  • The right type of content

Sound Email Marketing Isn’t Hard

I recognize that this may sound complicated, and impossible to lasso with declining budgets and marketing staffs. But it’s not. If you’re using any sort of legitimate Email Service Provider (ESP), the tools necessary to test and optimize your email programs are built right into the software. You have to be mildly comfortable with math of course, but the same is true of Fantasy Football.

With the economy stumbling along like Lindsay Lohan leaving the Viper Room, shouldn’t all marketers do more with less? And to me, the easiest way to do that is to take the time to learn how to improve the emails that you’re already sending.

A Call to Action

But perhaps the ESP industry has done a bad job explaining and demystifying email testing and optimization, because often when I talk about taking email programs to the next level scientifically, people get all skittish and worried – like Luke and Han and Leia in the trash compactor.

So, I’m going on the record to ask for two things. First, I want the ESP community to spend less time rolling out features that customers are scared of, and more time making features approachable. And second, I want you to commit to just trying one email test between now and the end of the quarter. Start with subject line. Split your list into 4 even pieces and create 4 subject lines. See what happens. A little spreadsheet action won’t kill you, and you might be very surprised to see how much you can improve your results.

(disclosure: the largest ESP in the world, ExactTarget, is a client)

(photo by Willie Lunchmeat – seriously)

Related
  • http://twitter.com/burntorangesky/status/2532353406 Matt Bivons

    RT @jaybaer If you’re sending email, realize that your ESP has ESP. Use it. http://bit.ly/21Pjx

  • http://twitter.com/andrewkordek/status/2532383452 andrewkordek

    RT @jaybaer: If you’re sending email, realize that your ESP has ESP. Use it. http://bit.ly/21Pjx (AK: how true)

  • http://twitter.com/unseenntmktg/status/2533369644 Unseen Net Marketing

    Your ESP has ESP – Use It | Email Marketing Advice | Social Media …: Social Media Strategy Blog Social Media C.. http://tinyurl.com/ltle39

  • http://twitter.com/seoptimizer/status/2533649082 Adam Horowitz

    Your ESP has ESP – Use It | Email Marketing Advice | Social Media Consulting – Convince & Convert http://bit.ly/BRZvy

  • http://twitter.com/jacaldwell/status/2535486672 John Caldwell

    RT @andrewkordek @jaybaer: If you’re sending email, realize that your ESP has ESP. Use it. http://bit.ly/21Pjx (AK: how true) (jac: nice)

  • http://twitter.com/joelbook/status/2536492653 Joel Book

    RT @tweetmeme Your ESP has ESP – Use It | Email Marketing Advice | Social Media Consulting – Convince & Convert http://bit.ly/BRZvy

  • http://twitter.com/djwaldow DJ Waldow

    Exact Target is now the “largest ESP in the world”, huh? Interesting. Is that their new tagline? Ha ha. Just kidding. (but still interested in where that phrase came from).

    While clearly biased (formerly with ESP Bronto and now with ESP Blue Sky Factory), I don’t think that ESPs have done a bad job explaining testing. I just think that sometimes clients are reluctant to do anything that will take more time. This is not to knock the marketer in any way. My belief is that most email marketing managers are also doing 6 other jobs (SEO, webmaster, PPC, etc).

    IMHO, ESPs need to do a better job convincing the decision makers (ie. VP of Mktg) that there is *value* in sound, strategic email marketing (which includes testing and using the available data to make informed decisions).

    My 3 cents.

    DJ Waldow
    Director of Community at Blue Sky Factory
    @djwaldow

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ Jason Baer

      I just assumed that any ESP that hired me must be the biggest, and best ;)

      I agree that marketers aren’t pushing the envelope either, but ultimately the purveyor of the software is responsible for its appropriate usage. Same goes for over the counter medicines.

      Not enough ESPs are proactively calling up clients and saying “you know, you could do this better if you just tested this and this”. But you’re right, both sides have to embrace it in ways that (sadly) they haven’t yet. (at least not universally).

  • http://twitter.com/djwaldow DJ Waldow

    Exact Target is now the “largest ESP in the world”, huh? Interesting. Is that their new tagline? Ha ha. Just kidding. (but still interested in where that phrase came from).

    While clearly biased (formerly with ESP Bronto and now with ESP Blue Sky Factory), I don’t think that ESPs have done a bad job explaining testing. I just think that sometimes clients are reluctant to do anything that will take more time. This is not to knock the marketer in any way. My belief is that most email marketing managers are also doing 6 other jobs (SEO, webmaster, PPC, etc).

    IMHO, ESPs need to do a better job convincing the decision makers (ie. VP of Mktg) that there is *value* in sound, strategic email marketing (which includes testing and using the available data to make informed decisions).

    My 3 cents.

    DJ Waldow
    Director of Community at Blue Sky Factory
    @djwaldow

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com Jason Baer

      I just assumed that any ESP that hired me must be the biggest, and best ;)

      I agree that marketers aren’t pushing the envelope either, but ultimately the purveyor of the software is responsible for its appropriate usage. Same goes for over the counter medicines.

      Not enough ESPs are proactively calling up clients and saying “you know, you could do this better if you just tested this and this”. But you’re right, both sides have to embrace it in ways that (sadly) they haven’t yet. (at least not universally).

  • http://arneedition.blogspot.com/ e_edition

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am very new to the marketing game, and I didn’t even think to look for those tools that have been at my fingertips all along. Thanks for the insight and the motivation.
    .-= e_edition´s last blog ..A Guy, a Cup and a Coffee Shop =-.

  • http://arneedition.blogspot.com e_edition

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am very new to the marketing game, and I didn’t even think to look for those tools that have been at my fingertips all along. Thanks for the insight and the motivation.
    .-= e_edition´s last blog ..A Guy, a Cup and a Coffee Shop =-.

  • letstalkandchat

    I just found a great company that builds websites for info products. To keep your costs low, they’ll mentor you on how to create your site, design a marketing funnel (one of the guys works in Hollywood and makes really slick videos), and the other guy programmed Myspace. If you’re looking to have professional web design for your small business and not waste any time or money then check their site out. Check them out: http://www.mikelmurphy.com/easy-info-product-site-system/