Explore our Email Marketing and Marketing Automation Toolkit

Email marketers – how would YOU answer these questions from your boss?

Author's avatar By Tim Watson 13 Nov, 2014
Essential Essential topic

7 key email strategy questions every email marketer should be able to answer

Company owners and marketing directors won't want to get into the details of your email marketing like your click-to-open rates or your deliverability. But in my experience, they will often know the important questions to ask . Here are 7 tough questions that as an email marketing specialist you should be able to answer, plus my suggestions of how you should answer.

7 key email marketing questions

Q1. How do you manage our email strategy?

Good answer
Strategy is determined by a review of all opportunities to improve our email marketing based on marketing objectives. Each opportunity is reviewed against all others rather than trying to evaluate improvements in isolation. As resources are limited, we balance effort between activities that will bring fast return and those are of part of long-term vision and require more investment. Business and revenue value is predicted wherever possible to ensure we spend in those areas that provide best ROI.

Bad answer
We’ve some great ideas and work on those items which are currently hot topics. Focus changes week to week as new opportunities are found. We try to do lots of different things and keep many plates spinning, but faster progress would be made with more resources.

Q2. How do you know if you are succeeding?

Good answer
Because we drive ecommerce we are measuring total monthly revenue from email marketing. We also measure revenue per email and revenue per mailable customer.

Or, as we aren’t driving ecommerce tracking direct revenue is more difficult so we focus on metrics including list growth, how many qualified leads are delivered each month and the number of customers who engage with one or more of our emails each period.

Bad answer
Our primary focus is campaign metrics and improving our open and click rates. Our challenge is getting more people to open our emails. Its typically 15% but we aren’t sure if that’s the same 15% for every campaign.

Q3. How do you set contact strategy?

Good answer
We are trying to find ways to communicate as much as possible with our customers whilst continuing to keep inbox placement and increase our business metrics. The impact of frequency has been measured and we understand how to set this sensibly.

Bad answer
We think we are at risk of annoying our subscribers so are looking at ways to reduce how often we communicate. We’re looking at using email automation as a way to reduce the amount we communicate.

Q4. How are you growing the subscriber base?

Good answer
Multiple methods are used on our website to capture email addresses. All online and offline customer touch points have been reviewed and list growth objectives integrated into those that can generate the most new subscribers.

Bad answer
We’ve a signup form on our website. Not sure how long it’s been there and it’s not been changed or reviewed for quite some time.

Q5. How are you segmenting and targeting our emails?

Good answer
A key part of our strategy is to increasingly use behaviour as the main way we target and segment emails. Behaviour is driving both trigger emails and bulk campaigns.

Bad answer

We haven’t yet looked at how we can use behavioural triggers and our bulk campaigns use little segmentation. We are building a preference centre.

Q6. Are you designing for mobile users?

Good answer
We’ve reviewed how our emails look on mobile devices and on which clients our subscribers read emails. Our emails are usable for the devices our customers use. As templates are being updated we use appropriate design approaches for mobile devices, such as scalable or responsive.

We’ve noted that even though increase in mobile viewing has gone up radically our campaign performance isn’t dropping, so we don’t believe we have a big issue in this area.

Bad answer
A major priority has been getting all our emails re-designed to use responsive templates because all reports are that mobile device use will be more important than desktop.

Q7. Are you split testing to optimise email marketing?

Good answer
Our lists are relatively small currently and split testing is not appropriate as we won’t get sufficiently fast learnings to make this a sensible strategy for us.

Or, with our large lists continuous improvement is worthwhile and we have a test plan and process that delivers a regular cycle of learning.

Bad answer
We don’t need to test, we know our customers perfectly and what works in email marketing!

How easy do you find these questions to answer? Are there any other questions a marketing director should be asking?

Author's avatar

By Tim Watson

Tim is founder of email marketing consultancy Zettasphere and EOS Implementer at Traction Six. Experience includes Operations Director at Email Reaction and Marketing Director (fractional) in the US delivering a 310% revenue increase to $5m. Tim has 15 years of email marketing expertise with a heavily analytical approach to strategic choices. Connect with Tim via LinkedIn or Twitter.

Recommended Blog Posts