Everyone these days is constantly checking their email box – so why is email marketing so hard? Let’s take a look at the challenges. For one, it is important to understand that email marketing is a very legitimate form of advertising. This is not the 90’s where SPAMMERS were pervasive. The FTC regulated the industry with the CAN-SPAM act of 2003, and a number of state laws that are more restrictive must guide your commercial emailing efforts. A deep understanding of email compliance requirements has to be your first step. Email compliance requires transparency, ethical messaging, and providing a consumer the ability to opt-out of receiving more emails. It also requires monitoring Publishers for compliance. Every legitimate mailer follows these compliance requirements, but knowing how to avoid publishers who try and game the system and who can get you in trouble takes years of learnings. It is also important to have the technological tools to monitor your campaigns to avoid problems or bad actors.
Reputational risk is another concern companies have with commercial emailing. They perceive that consumers do not like to be emailed, and while true with a tiny percentage of people, most of us understand what the delete button is for. Frankly, if you are emailing compliantly and honoring consumer opt-outs, consumer complaints really are not much of a concern. Many people appreciate being introduced to new products and services, or the response rates would not be what they are. After deploying several hundred million emails a month for a variety of Brand advertisers, the complaints we receive annually are minimal. Let’s call it 2-3 a year, with half of those being from professional litigants who opt-in everywhere, and then use the lesser known state laws to try and extort a few dollars. Not having a firm hand on compliance however can yield much worse problems. The benefits and ability to scale your business however, far outweigh the perceived risks which are minimal and easily addressed. Again, experience counts here, because an understanding of how to navigate through these problems is critical for both peace of mind and cost savings. (more…)
Let’s face it. Nothing has changed our lives more in the past 20 years than the Internet and email. We receive emails delivered to our computers and phone wherever we are, 24/7. In addition to work and personal emails, companies we do business with (or companies who’d like to do business with us!), utilize email to communicate. We have all gotten used to checking our email regularly, and hitting the “X” button to delete the myriad of messages we don’t have an interest in. Email can be used for communicating with existing clients, re-marketing to clients who have already discovered you, or to acquire new, fresh hand-raisers who have an interest in your product now! Emails that pique our interest by introducing us to new products play a significant role in driving our economy.
Millions of leads and sales are generated daily from this advertising medium. In fact, E-mail Marketing has effectively replaced Direct Mail as the preferred method of driving new business.
So why are so few companies marketing this way?
For one, it’s hard. Most companies fail at it. After working with a lot of well-known brands, the stories we hear about their efforts prior to our engagement are relatively consistent. They have tried it, but the sales metrics did not back out, traffic fraud was pervasive, their forms did not convert and so on. Traffic was not only hard to find, policing it for compliance was even harder. Identifying mailers with the the right Demographic lists and who can also “inbox” are also a challenge. Managing your domains or a couple consumer complaint can be daunting. As with all things, experience and good contacts matter. But for every challenge, there is a solution…
Unfortunately for those of us in email advertising, trying to work with top-tier performance email publishers is like trying to find a wife in Alaska. There are so many of us and so few of them, and they know it. So what happens? Only the most attractive offers survive. Those are the offers with no caps on traffic, no schedule restrictions, higher payouts, etc. If you won’t give it to them, they are on to the next offer, and very few offers can take uncapped traffic at a high payout with zero restrictions.
In an article titled “How to Negotiate with Powerful Suppliers” from the Harvard Business Review Magazine, this kind of difficulty in getting publishers to work with your needs is due to the fact that the good ones are scarce. There are only a handful of top-tier quality email publishers that can really drive traffic at scale at any given time. Therefore, their services are in high demand and they gravitate to the offers that make them the most money with the fewest headaches.
So then, as advertisers, are we totally powerless? No. Luckily this article is titled, “How to Negotiate with Powerful Suppliers.” We have four options:
- Consider playing hardball. Good luck with #1. Remember, these publishers have buyers lined up, and there is no leverage in trying to withhold your business. That just won’t work.
- Acquire an existing supplier or create a new one. That sounds great, but the hard part is that email publishers come and go. There are many stories in this industry of large purchases being made only to have the mailer’s IPs go down the next day. Creating one is probably a better idea, but no simple task. Hiring an expert to create one may be just as expensive and just as risky.
- Consider whether you can change how you buy. You could consider changing how you buy, but in our industry, you probably have already done this. Other forms of media, such as Search and Social, can produce great traffic. But most advertisers look to email traffic only after saturating other opportunities.
- See if you can help the publisher realize value in other contexts. Bingo! This is the strategy that has been extremely successful for me. If I have an offer that is limited because of restrictions on the amount of traffic it can take, days it can be run, etc., I know that the best way to overcome that is to build ancillary value for the publisher into the offer. This can mean different things in different situations, but an example may be to test creative extensively until the conversion ratios from the open of the email through the acquiring of the customer are at a level much higher than existing offers. With that accomplished, the offer will make the publishers more money per email drop, and they will be much more willing to adhere to my requests on volume on scheduling. Another example would be to test CPM mailings. This may take a good deal of trial and error, but the top mailers will usually be willing to mail any offer on a CPM basis because they are guaranteed to meet their revenue targets. As a result, the advertiser has control over the size and timing of the email drops.