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Most businesses now acknowledge the importance of emaill to their business model.

However, despite the growing acknowledgement that email is an important revenue building tool, it has not led to uniform treatment when allocating budgets or devising email strategies.

Email is cheap. We all know that. However, just relying on one cheap, mass blast, is now not enough when it comes to improving revenue. Despite this a large amount of companies are still not effectively investing in email marketing and in doing so are missing a huge opportunity.

The recent Econsultancy Email Census 2011 found that many email marketers were failing to focus on basics such as deliverability and testing to improve campaign performance.  

So here’s a call to any email marketers still trapped in a mass mailing strategy. Below are three key actions to help you become a strategic email marketer, enabling you to effectively measure ROI and generate revenue.

Measure revenue and beyond

Email tracking is more than opens and clicks. If you are trying to measure effectiveness in email, opens and clicks become a slightly irrelevant metric to measure.

Consider this, a subject line is only as strong as the revenue it creates, you don’t want opens you want sales (unless you get paid for opens of course). It’s a popular misconception in email marketing that more opens and clicks equals more revenue (flashback to early days of online marketing!!).

The bottom line; always identify the revenue driving actions. This is what you need to measure.

Without revenue tracking, and individual level response data, all that can be measured are the volume drivers (opens and clicks) and at that level all this will lead to is the eventual conclusion that you just need to send more emails (not productive at all).

Think beyond campaign email

I hate the phrase “low hanging fruit”, but it’s the most apt phrase to describe the most basic non-campaign money maker here; Basket (cart) abandonment.

This is a simple driver to extra sales, using the action of the potential shopper in abandoning the shopping process, to trigger a customer service email. They are not only the simplest to implement, but also one of the highest ROI emails you are able to deploy.

The recent Conversion report from Econsultancy and RedEye found that of the 35% of organisations who DID target people who abandon their online baskets or shopping trolleys, 84% of them had seen improvements in conversion rates!

From the basic abandoned basket email, you can then look further up the conversion funnel to identify more opportunities. After the basket, where were they before? What pages fill the basket funnel?

These key pages represent further opportunity to use the next level of behavioural email, Conversion Segmentation. Using the same mechanisms as the Basket Abandonment email, conversion segmentation looks to identify those people who carried out key actions, but didn’t enter the basket process.

This is another opportunity to influence and convert customers who are close to making buying decisions.     

Plan to implement lifecycle marketing (e-RFM). Think individual!

Customers have a lifecycle and at each stage of this, they will need talking to in a different way, demand different frequencies of email send and have different objectives (although all should drive ROI directly or indirectly). 

Defining different strategies for each of the lifecycle segments will help to make your communications more relevant to the recipients. Even starting with a simple specific welcome strategy or a strategy for your very best customers, will pay dividends by concentrating your initial segmentation efforts where they will show the greatest ROI (chase the money).

Here are some potential segments that could be developed into specific strategies; 

  • Prospect or Browser
  • Welcome
  • Loyal
  • Mature
  • Defection 

There is no need to do all these at once, the staged implementation of these types of strategies will enable you to refine one, before moving on to the next.

Why bother, let’s keep it cheap and cheerful

Making the most money out of email is no longer cheap and cheerful; the bulk non targeted email “blasts” of yesterday have gone. Driving your email marketing to the strategic stage is not a “nice to have”, the competition this year (and coming years) is going to be pretty hot.

However it’s dressed up, there will be less money in the customer’s pockets and the fight for conversion will be a tough one, requiring marketers to use every trick in the email marketing trade.

There is no point of equilibrium in online marketing, your strategy and tactics will either be pulling customers away from your competitors, or your competitors will be pulling them away from you.

Tim Roe

Published 10 March, 2011 by Tim Roe

Tim Roe is Director of Data and Deliverability at Redeye International and a contributor to Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter, Google+ or connect via LinkedIn

22 more posts from this author

Comments (7)

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Danette Savage, Internet Marketing at Entreper.com

Excellent article! Well done

over 5 years ago


Georgia Christian - Mail Blaze

Thanks for sharing. I personally have my eye on cart abandonment rates. Targeting subscribers at this crucial stage is still an untapped area and hopefully the percentage of marketers who take advantage of this aspect will increase this year.

over 5 years ago


Kevin Bannister

Great article Tim. I definitely agree with the last point here about following an individual's life cycle. The only way to keep trust with subscribers is to add a personal element, this has always been a priority for me when working out an email marketing plan. Also, great insight on following basket abandonment.

over 5 years ago


Sean Duffy

Lovely stuff Tim.

The thing which gets me is marketers who only measure short term, I.E If I didn't send that extra email I would not have got that extra £10k of sales. But what is the damage to the database of these extra emails?

We do a lot of control group work where half of new customers get a reduced frequancy. This shows that in the long term (6 months to a year) they are worth more and are far more likely to still be engaged and responsive compared to those getting more email.

over 5 years ago



Fantastic article, Tim. I could not agree more with your view on email marketing. My company actually built and released a cart retargeting and recovery tool for online merchants seeking to capture abandoned revenue, which is essentially lost revenue when the retailer fails to intervene. We've witnessed recovery rates of 15-45%, based on the type of retailer and the location where they ask for the visitor's email address.

It still amazes me that 2/3 of small to medium sized retailers aren't doing anything to tackle this problem, yet they continue to send out email blasts and wonder why their conversion rates are below 3%. Unfortunately, Google Analytics doesn't show how much revenue marketers are leaving on the table when visitors abandon the cart (hint hint...our reports do). I think that if I told an online marketer that they lost 523 potential transactions today totalling over $56,234 dollars in unclaimed revenue, they would focus on this problem in a heartbeat.

over 5 years ago

Tim Roe

Tim Roe, Deliverability and Compliance Director at RedEyeEnterprise

Thanks for all the feedback. We’ve been doing Behavioural email and revenue tracking for the last ten years now, and although it is becoming far more popular it’s still not widely used by ecommerce. I think the main issue is access to the data and as Josh points out, once the lost revenue is laid out on the table, investing in a strategic approach is a bit of a no-brainer.
It’s good to hear about the other great things that are being done to make email more strategic, as the channel is certainly maturing into something very effective.

over 5 years ago

Peter Bordes

Peter Bordes, CEO & Founder at oneQube

Tim this is an excellent post and outline of the value email can drive. Especially when thinking about abandons and how email can lift roi by be applied in the conversion funnel. We have seen similar results in lift using email to retarget and as a post transaction CRM tool to upsell and cross sell.

Another area we have seen tremendous results is in leadgen and connecting clicks to conversions in our PerformanceExchange email channel. On average we are not only seeing 8+% conversions. But a noticeable difference in life time value vs other digital media channels.

Do you have any data on consumer life time value via email vs search or mobile?

over 5 years ago

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