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Email marketers use a wide variety of techniques to improve response in their retention and acquisition email programs. Following email best practices drives strong improvement over the baseline. As in all marketing, however, the devil is in the implementation details, so campaign success varies.

Despite the benefits, response and the key drivers of response are not being actively managed—resulting in erratic success rates, lower performance, and declining response rates. However, the availability of good data and evidence of strong success when testing best practice strategies indicates that marketers are interested in moving well beyond the batch-and-blast tactics that spawned email marketing back in 1999.

This overview will give you an industry baseline for measuring your own 2006 opportunity. Dig into the data directly to benchmark your success against other marketers, and learn (or steal) some great ideas for what works and what doesn't.

Email Marketing Optimization Techniques: Success & Learnings

The 2005 Email Marketing Survey was conducted by MarketingProfs and includes responses from 1,033 marketers, 68% of them in the US or Canada. About 73% of respondents are corporate marketers. Roughly 50% are B2B and 23% are B2C. Another 19% market to both businesses and consumers. The survey was fielded online during November 2005. Analysis is provided by Return Path’s Strategic Services team of email best practices experts.

1. Response Optimization

Findings: 50-70% of marketers manipulate various response elements in every campaign. Primarily, marketers focus on the offer, the call to action, and the subject line. While 84% adjust promotions and content, there is a 30% drop off for custom content or even personalization. Good news: 72% test Subject Lines every time! Between 5% and 40% do not adjust at all the various elements available to them to improve the response.

In addition, 68% say they use landing pages to boost response, and 64% of those who optimize use a dedicated landing page; however, nearly 40% of those still just use an existing Web site page (usually a product page).

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Stephanie Miller is vice-president of market development for Return Path, Inc. (www.returnpath.net). Reach her via Twitter (@StephanieSAM) or stephanie.miller@returnpath.net.