If you’re new to this blog, I tend to use song titles or song lyrics that are relevant to the topic of discussion. Today’s blog subject will be email marketing and we’ll get to that in a second, but you should also know that a great band called Okkervil River sings this song and I’ve embedded it below because it deserves a listen!

email-marketing-toolsThere’s a lot of noise among marketers out there about segmenting and targeting your email blasts. One of the leading email providers out there, Mailchimp, just updated their excellent article about list segmentation and its effects on some pretty important metrics. In fact, if you’re not using metrics like open rate, clicks, bounces, etc to manage your daily email marketing initiatives and make informed decisions about what to do and who to target down the road, you may want to take up knitting.

But one thing this article totally ignores is conversion rates and revenue. To write a piece about measurable metrics without even giving a passing mention to paying attention to your revenue and conversion rate performance is odd. It MUST be factored in.

If you can increase your open rate, that’s awesome! It means you’ve got a creative sense of subject lines and an authoritative brand. If you can increase your clicks from emails, that’s great! It means the content in the email you built was compelling and stylistically appealing enough for someone to dig deeper. But what if increased open/click rates don’t increase your conversion rate or revenue? Well, then you have some nice powerpoint graphics to show people, but no performance where it counts and probably a need to improve your website.

Every company is different. I spent almost six years at a niche retailer and I set up emails to fly out nearly every single day in 2015, most of which were highly segmented emails based on obvious marketing triggers – a welcome for initial visits, spending thresholds, product category purchases, RFM segments and yes, even the time-honored traditional birthday emails and many more. The results? Exactly as Mailchimp points out – kick ass open rates, great CTR, minimal bounce rates. Revenue? Eh. Don’t get me wrong, these emails were effective and the conversion rates were good, but the money didn’t pile up.

But revenue? Always much better with a full email blast. Full email blasts pushed off lower conversion rates, but more revenue. And I don’t mean emailing everyone who ever signed up in the history of the company. You NEED to be managing your list – removing the lapsed customers, etc – there’s plenty of articles out there about that. Email marketing costs money, so pare down your lists.

I’m not saying stop or cut back on segmented emails, because they are extremely effective and I’m a believer. But my experience – and yours could very well be different – dictated that if you needed to hit the gas on some revenue, a full email blast is the way to go.

Now, with that said, consider some potential negatives. Do NOT do full blasts every day or even every other day and also keep a very close eye on your opt-out rate, because if you increase your full blasts and you see that opt-out or “marked spam” number heading north, you’ll need to adjust. I spent a few months coming up with what I thought was the best mix based on our results and here’s one handy tip – you can still add a touch of personalization to email blasts as well – experiment with using first names and potentially have the email come from a real person at your company.

As I mentioned before, every company is different, so it’ll take some time to come up with your optimized mix.

Remember, targeting is a terrific, powerful tool to improve customer engagement, nurturing and lifetime value – and you had better be utilizing it in today’s marketing world. But if you worked in an environment where you’re under intense pressure every single day to deliver dollars (like I was), do not abandon the old-school email blast, but be careful and observant with it.

Now enjoy some Okkervil River.