• I was in an interesting meeting the other day. One of my business partners and I were asked to consult with a client regarding their email marketing strategy. They are using a small, outsourced email marketing firm to run all of their fund raising email campaigns. Relative to the size of the organization, the money they raise is very small through email marketing (0.1% from email marketing, the rest from other forms of media – and we’re talking huge dollars here) and they spend 33% of the money raised on this outside vendor.

    Our Current Email Marketing Process

    As we dove into the current process and the “best practices” this outside vendor believed were correct, we began seeing huge holes and red flags with their email marketing strategy – quite frankly, we saw a lack of strategy. The current email process violated many good tenets of email marketing practice and frankly flew in the face of any good email marketing practice.

    The basic problem was that the vendor offered no direct value to the email marketing strategy. He simply took the content provided by the client, formatted it into an email, and send it out. The A/B testing process was failing due to a lack of understanding of testing – quite literally, the vendor sent the email out in an A/B test, and despite the winner, sent both A and B out to the entire list, separated by several days. We attempted to get to the bottom line of why they were operating in the fashion that they were and came to the conclusion it was because this process raised money.

    We Have 35 Years of Direct Mail Experience

    services_-direct_mailOne of the participants of this meeting indicated that this is the right way of doing things because “we have 35 years of direct mail experience.” Unfortunately, this experience does not play out well in email if you do not take the strengths of your direct mail experience and combine them with the flexibility of email marketing.

    Email marketing provides more flexibility than traditional direct mail marketing. The amount of data we had on the recipients was tremendous, but unfortunately the client did not understand that you can harness the power of the data to customize the campaigns to the particular person. This customization could provide significant returns to the client’s fund raising efforts.

    There is No Way to Profile Our Givers

    The business stakeholders did not believe we could profile the givers. My business partner Hank showed the client specific subject lines, marketing messages, and sending practices which provided the best returns for them over the last 18 months. Their vendor had not thought of this nor agreed it was a proper way to customize the campaign.

    Additionally, we outlined how to use the existing data about the email recipients to increase the potential for fund raising.

    Unfortunately, the business did not see the value in this information and decided to continue operating their email program in the same fashion as they have been operating it.

    Lessons Learned

    1. Some managers refuse to look at data and instead rely on their guts.
    2. If you work for this type of manager, it is your responsibility to continue showing him the data to influence a decision.
    3. Sometimes “gut feelings” work out, but with data, your chances for success improves tremendously.

    Do you have a situation in your business environment where a manager always relies on “gut feel” instead of cold, hard data?

    This entry was posted on Sunday, January 17th, 2010 at 10:58 am and is filed under Management. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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