13 April 2016 - Sharon Beilis

 Whether you are an Email Marketer or you have an Email Marketer, this list is important. Email Marketing is a space that is evolving rapidly and to keep up, your Email Marketer must be able to answer these questions…tricky as they may be.

1. What is the most important measure of an email campaign’s success?

An average tactical Email Marketer may refer to KPIs like open rate, CTR, and conversion rate. An average strategic Email Marketer will tie it back in to the company’s profit goal and talk about ROI. Professional Email Marketers, who truly understand email marketing best practices, will explain that each email campaign’s success is measured differently – it will depend on the goal of the campaign. While some campaigns are for sales and should be measured by revenue generated, others are purely for engagement and can be measured by clicks, and others still are for list hygiene and need different KPIs altogether. The important element to understand is that each campaign should have a goal and its success should be measured by its attainment of that goal.

2. What is the best time to send email?

I have had Email Marketers quote studies that Tuesday and Thursday mornings are best. That may have even been true…ten years ago. I have had other (frankly, better) Email Marketers tell me that it depends on their own testing –they send one email on a Tuesday morning and another on a Wednesday night and see which has the better open rates – THAT is the way they decide the best time. But best-in-class Email Marketers, who understand the eco-system to its core, are aware of several factors. First, Tuesday morning isn’t Tuesday morning everywhere. Tuesday morning in San Francisco is Tuesday afternoon in New York, Tuesday evening in London, and Wednesday morning in Sydney. Second, people’s email habits are not the same – one person may open their email only once they sit at their desk and another may open on the morning commuter train or late at night. It is these Email Marketers who will answer that the testing needs to happen at the micro level – they will find ways to study each recipient to understand what they open and when they open it. And based on that, they will find the optimal time to send to that user.

3. Describe the perfect CTA button.

Email Marketers (and their web designer friends) can talk ad nauseam about buttons and their color, size, shape, and text. And while there is some merit to studying CTA buttons, when it comes to email, it is quite possible that the perfect Call-to-Action button isn’t a button at all (told ya these were trick questions!). As we discussed in a previous blog post, HTML-based emails not only decrease open rates, but they also result in lower click rates. Instead, savvy Email Marketers will explain the need to test text-based emails that are more personal, less likely to be flagged as promotional, and drive better results.

4. Should emails be personalized with the recipient’s name?

If they tell you “no,” you know you are not dealing with an Email Marketer. If they tell you “yes,” you’re probably dealing with someone who has sent out a campaign or two. If they say “it doesn’t matter,” listen up! The truth is, several years ago, Email Marketers added a {FIRST NAME} personalization in their messages to make their subscribers feel a personal connection. It wore off. So they moved the {FIRST NAME} into the subject line. It got annoying (because no one really gets emails from their friends with their name in the subject line). The correct way to personalize emails doesn’t end with the {FIRST NAME}. Instead, personalization should be about content. Sending dynamic content, that is personalized based on {FIRST NAME}’s interests, location, or behavioral history is the real way to optimize results.

5. What’s the best email service provider?

This question draws the proverbial line in the sand. On one side are the Email Marketers who will tell you it is best to use an SMTP relay because it keeps costs low. Then there are those who will rally for the use of an ESP with advanced analytics – surprisingly, they are on the same side on the line (the wrong side) as the SMTP supporters. When you get an answer from an Email Marketer explaining that the right way is to use different provider types for different email lists and segments, that’s when you know you have a winner. SMTP relays may be great for transactional emails, a certain ESP may be good at delivering to Gmail addresses and another may be better at delivering to Hotmails. The point is – Email Marketers should keep testing different providers and benchmarking them against each other.

Extra points go to those Email Marketers who will explain that using a service like Ongage can keep all emailing efforts centralized and make it easy to compare providers and choose the right one for each email type and list segment.

Are you an Email Marketer (or do you know one) who answered all of these trick questions correctly? If you were surprised by any of these answers, sign up for our newsletter to get updates about the latest trends and best practices in email marketing.