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Tweet this: While social media dominates the headlines, the online marketing tactic that works best is email. In 2009, the Direct Marketing Association estimated the return on investment (ROI) for email marketing at $43.52 for every dollar spent on it.

Electronic messages were born in 1965 (along with the first members of Generation X). In 1971 an engineer named Ray Tomlinson took the @ symbol and used it to send the first email to a computer on a different host. In 2009, an estimated 247 billion emails were sent every day (more than 80% have been estimated to be spam or viruses).

Just last month the Museum of Modern Art acquired the @ symbol into its collection. This inspired our newsletter theme – Email Marketing: Where it’s @.

I love the reason MoMA shared for why Tomlinson chose @. It offered a strong sense of location and “it was already there, on the keyboard, and nobody ever used it.”

In this edition of Creating Results eNews, we’ll look at opportunities already there in your email marketing that you may not be using. Read on for statistics about the effectiveness of email marketing and four ways you could be getting more out of your email program.

Got a need, question or other feedback? I’m only an email away – todd@creatingresults.com.

                                                                            Best regards,
                                                                            Todd Harff



Who uses email? Perhaps the question should be who doesn’t. 91% of all American adults online use email.  It’s the most popular online activity, especially among mature, 65+ Internet users. In fact, email is the most common form of written communication for people over the age of 35.

For mature marketers, the bigger questions about email have to do with effectiveness. An intriguing brief from MediaPost once claimed “Email Marketing's ROI Probably Closer To $130 Than $43.52.” Surveys have shown that email marketing is one of the most successful tactics, both in marketing to consumers and to other businesses. 

ExactTarget discovered that “regardless of age, email drives more conversions than any other online channel.” And consumers say it’s their preferred channel for promotional messages (as long as they give you permission first). 2009 Forrester Research showed that email is an especially dominant force with Gen X; this cohort prefer to share their recommendations on what to buy (or what not to buy) with friends and family via email, not the more public social media.

Speaking of social media, email not only holds its own with this newer marketing channel it may even be growing in importance. Scott Monty, head of social media for Ford Motor Company, found that 42% of social media users check their personal email accounts four or more times daily; 27% of non-social media users do the same.

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1. Testing, 1-2-3.
Invest a little extra time in testing and you might be amazed at the way you can pump up the performance of your next email campaigns. Today, we can test subject lines and calls to action in real time and enhance campaign performance.

What things should you be testing? Your offer, the design (html vs. text, layout), subject lines, messaging, send times and more. And it may sound basic, but make sure you’ve tested whether your images show up properly across major email services (AOL, et al). We were surprised to find out that fewer than 50% of companies create marketing emails that render appropriately, per Email Experience Council studies.

2. Remember: not all email lists are created equal.
In the past, email marketing often consisted of “batch and blast” – one impersonal blast was created with the assumption that every recipient would have the same interests. There are more than 78 million Baby Boomers; no way do they have all the same interests.

And some consumers may have the same interests but might be at different stages in their journey to purchase. Imagine how it feels to be at an auto dealership, just beginning your research. At that point, you’re not even sure if you’re really in the market for a new car. And along comes a high-pressure salesperson who’s got a contract in hand. That’s how an ill-timed email can feel to your prospects.

There are many ways you can segment your lists. One MarketingSherpa Email Marketing Awards-winner segmented their audience according to past activity. They enjoyed open rates of up to 58.33% and click rates of up to 55%.

Other ideas include segmenting by whether they’ve visited your location or not, by how frequently they’ve told you they want to hear from you, by persona, by geographic location (“one-time event for New Jersey residents”) or by what triggered them to sign up for your emails in the first place. Then tweak your content, subject lines and calls to action appropriately.

Segmenting will result in email campaigns that are more targeted, more interesting and more effective. Additionally, recipients are less likely to report your emails as spam if they feel that your email is relevant to their interests or needs.

3. Measure twice, cut once.
This little adage is commonly used on woodworking projects to minimize waste. It’s equally true for emails.

Marketing vehicles must work harder than ever, and you need to know what to cut or on what you can build. If you’re not actively reviewing the performance metrics of your email campaigns, you have no way to know what works and what doesn’t. You could be throwing away some great conversion opportunities.

Make sure your metrics go beyond whether the email was delivered. Consider open rates, click rates, conversions, forward rates and more.

4. Have you forgotten your manners?
Is the world getting ruder? Certainly more abrupt. In the digital space, brevity is required. Twitter limits us to 140 characters; text messaging can feel like a new language (TTFN; I’m ROFL & wl CUL8R).

In 2009, 75% of adults said that America was becoming ruder and less civilized. Older consumers (particularly the members of the Greatest and Silent Generations) were raised in a time of good manners. But the desire for politeness cuts across all demographics evenly, said pollsters.

As Jennifer V. Miller, blogger for The People Equation, has written, “Simply because our technology allows us to do things faster and with a broader reach, doesn’t mean we should forget the foundation upon which all of this rests: human interaction.”

What does this mean for email marketing? First, be a human. Make sure your email campaigns contain truly helpful content. Make them “from” a real person (not sales@). People want to deal with people.

Next, interact. Set up an autoresponder or assign a team member to email “thank you” when prospects and customers follow your call to action. That “thank you” email can provide further information, as well, so you can maintain momentum. (If it’s a really big action and the person is 65+, mix things up and send a hand-written thank you. Politeness + the power of multichannel marketing!)

A fifth way to get more out of your emails?
Call Creating Results. We have created a new bundle of email marketing services to help you save time and improve your results. It includes reviewing your current program to identify opportunities from segmentation, updating email templates for social sharing, enabling a/b testing and improved metrics, and reporting that alerts your sales team to “hot” leads based on interactions with email messages. 

For more information about Creating Results and email marketing, call 703-494-7888, ext 11, or email kathy@creatingresults.com.

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40+ consumers across the country are participating in Creating Results' new research effort, aimed at better understanding the Web and social media preferences of Boomers and beyond. Two surveys have been made available online to anyone with a few minutes and an opinion.

Take them yourself - and share the links with friends/family, colleagues and other active adults you know. Use the buttons found in the right column on our blog -

Preliminary insights will be shared at industry conferences this spring (see below); findings will be published later in the summer.

Todd Harff will be a featured speaker at Marketing to Baby Boomers and Beyond, a one-day conference in New York City. He'll share some of our preliminary research into Web usability and satisfaction levels of Baby Boomers, Silent Generation and other 40+ consumers. Details on our web site or register at http://www.beyondboomers.com/workshop.html.

In June, Todd heads to the VANHA (Virginia Association of Nonprofit Homes for the Aging) Annual Conference to share insights and tips on how Boomers and seniors use the Internet to find and move to active adult and continuing care retirement communities.

Leading marketing journal MarketingSherpa profiled a recent campaign developed by Creating Results for Westminster at Lake Ridge. The integrated online/offline effort boosted leads by 267% over the previous year for this DC-area CCRC.

The International Council on Active Aging (ICAA) featured our photography insights and tips in the November/December Journal of Active Aging and a short video on web strategy in their new ICAA-TV channel.

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