‘Tis the Season for Testing Third-Party Email Marketing

According to eMarketer, holiday ecommerce sales are expected to grow to a whopping $123.39 billion in 2018. That’s a 16.2% increase over last year. Customers are gearing up to shop, but are you on track to win them over with email marketing?

While email marketing is effective for building brand awareness and driving traffic to your website, it can also be highly effective for customer acquisition. Email acquisition testing during the holidays, when customer shopping behaviors are at their peak, is a great time to build brand visibility and gain new customers.  


Email ROI: Putting your money where it matters

In today’s changing digital environment, email delivers the highest ROI for marketers. A recent study found that email has a median ROI of 122% — four times higher than any other marketing formats, including social media, direct mail and paid search. Additionally, customers acquired via email tend to be more responsive to email communications and often have a higher lifetime value compared to customers acquired through other channels.

The downside: testing third-party email acquisition can be a bit pricey. That’s why it makes sense to do so when customers are already in buying mode. Some quick tips to get started:

  1. Never buy a list of email marketing leads and deploy it from your internal email platform. It’s not CAN-Spam compliant, so you’re likely to be blacklisted by your ESP — if you can even upload the datafile. Also, steer clear of digital marketing agents that just want to sell you lists rather than take the time to understand your campaign strategy and make informed recommendations to improve your results. Which brings us to tip #2…
  2. Look for a reputable partner — even if it’s costlier on paper. Numerous third-party email campaign providers offer CAN-SPAM-compliant, highly-targeted email programs with successful inbox delivery. These providers have established relationships with consumers who’ve already opted-in to receive communications from them and their partners. Prepare to spend a little more on a partner that’s in good standing with major brands, and ask to see samples of recent campaigns they’ve deployed. The best will have large databases (200 million+), with many top brands using their data.
  3. Once you’ve found a partner, ask about your data options. A good partner will be able to provide an array of selectable attributes, so you can mirror your best customers in your email prospecting campaign.


Getting the most out of your email test program

The best email partners will acquire a customer’s email address — with the customer’s permission — through their own websites, contests, campaigns and surveys. To ensure optimal targeting and deliverability, they’ll typically validate, hygiene and overlay the email names. Data overlays often include postal addresses, demographic and psychographic data, as well as social appends — all of which can come from multiple sources. The deeper the details, the better the data set.

Your data partner may also be able to adjust pricing to meet your brand’s needs. Depending on your target audience and the number of selects you choose, email list use costs can range from $30-$150/M per deployment. Keep in mind: you’ll be renting the name per use, and the campaign will deploy off the list owner’s servers, as they have permission from the customer to send emails.

Your provider should offer guidelines on how to prepare your creative so that it has a high rate of deliverability, including a “Friendly From” and an engaging subject line. Consider testing two segments and two subject lines per segment. Test files should be at least 50,000 names, and if you want your campaign to be successful, you’ll need at least three deployments. So, your total impressions will be 150,000 on a 50,000 file.


Managing cost & conversion expectations

Setting expectations on your campaign is pretty straightforward. For costs, take your cost per thousand (CPM), multiply it by the total deployment/1,000 and include any other applicable fees. Then, calculate your site traffic based on 10% opens and 1-2% click from the total impressions deployed.

Your actual conversion will depend on your landing page, your offer and how well you prepare to nurture the leads that will be driven to your site. If the costs of the campaign are too high, ask your data provider for recommendations.


Holiday sales + email acquisition testing = the gift that keeps on giving

The holidays present a tremendous opportunity to see how your email acquisition efforts are paying off. Act now as the holiday spending kicks in, and get the information you need to fine-tune your efforts for your spring and summer sales.

Where to begin? d3 marketing agency’s parent, Specialists Marketing Services, has been running successful email campaigns for national brands for over 15 years. We’ve developed proprietary relationships with a select group of high-quality, third-party data aggregators that we know and trust. Campaigns deploy to optimized lists, from clean servers, using the most current practices to maximize in-box delivery. Find out how d3 can help you make your holidays merry with qualified email marketing leads.

Susan Sigal Goldsmith d3
Susan Sigel Goldsmith
Email Expert

Susan Sigel Goldsmith has over 25 years of experience in the marketing field with a diverse background spanning publishing, direct marketing, digital marketing, and email. She has worked with brands large and small, and ran her own marketing agency prior to joining Specialists/d3. She lives on Cape Cod with her son and pug, and enjoys gardening, sailing and horses.

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