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Which is the best way to boost revenue from email marketing?

Author's avatar By Richard Austin 05 Feb, 2013
Essential Essential topic

It’s a perennial dilemma for email marketers, what's our best tactic to boost revenue?

For some companies, the only way they are increasing revenue is growing the size of the email list to give a corresponding rise in revenue. While an increase in subscribers will undoubtedly improve revenue, we all know that only growing your database can lead to a declining scale of effectiveness over time as open rates drop and the number of inactive subscribers grow.

So what are the alternatives?

This article will look at those key practices for improving returns from email marketing that should be on every marketers list:

  • Database growth
  • Deliverability improvements
  • Open Rate (OR)
  • Click Through Rate (CTR) & Conversion Rate (CVR) and show you where your time and budget should be spent.

So let’s start by taking a look at a fairly standard situation and see what effect on the bottom line each tactic has.

We’ll start from this baseline: a retailer makes £38,880 per month in sales from email. It sends to a database of 600k, twice a month, deliverability is 90% and based on the delivered email volume it has a unique OR of 15%, CTR of 3% and a conversion rate of 2%.

What happens to the bottom line if the deliverability rate climbs to 96%? This would see the email reaching an extra 72k contacts and with all the other metrics remaining the same, it would boost that month’s revenue to £41,472, an increase of £2,592.

Not bad, but if (based on our original data) we increased that database by a massive 15% in a month; what impact would that have? That would mean an extra 90k contacts on the database and a monthly sales figure of £44,712 (remember deliverability is unchanged at 90%), so an impressive increase of £5,832 on the original figure.

Now let’s look towards the end of the chain and see what effect improving the CTR by 2% has on the bottom line. Remember that nothing else has changed; the OR is still 15% and the conversion rate 2%.

This one change moves the revenue up from £38,880 to a massive £64,800! That’s an increase of 166%! Similarly, increasing the conversion rate by just 1% sees a similar increase as revenue reaches £58,320.

Whilst this might seem counter intuitive, the ROI Calculator and experience bears this out; optimising the point of conversion yields the best results. Check out the download and see for yourself.

Creating an ROI calculator to model improvements

To help justify investment in email optimisation, there are only a relatively small number of variables to consider, so it's quite quick to create a calculator to show returns from optimisation. I have created an ‘Email ROI Tactics Calculator’ that you can download from the Experts area, makes it easy for you to see the effect of these and other changes.

Recognising the Point of Conversion

For email marketing the point of conversion is the call-to-action (CTA) since this drives the CTR and direct customers to your landing page/website where the final conversion takes place. Therefore optimise your conversion point, before moving more people down the sales funnel towards it.

This means that it is the creative of your email that needs to be optimised first to boost ROI.

Your creative needs to help customers identify the content that is meaningful to them and influences their decision to take action, i.e. click your main CTA.

Small Changes, Big Impact

So now I’m sure that some of you are thinking expensive redesigns, commissioning an agency, endless rounds of revision... right? Let me show how some very simple changes can have a huge impact on performance.

The following tests were performed by multivariate testing company: “8 Seconds” and were performed on live sends.

Small differences can have a big impact on results, a test by 8 Seconds showed that the button style ‘A’ had a 23% increase in clicks over style ‘B’. That’s a huge result and even more impressive when the only change was the addition of a chevron (>)!


Button example A - > Apply now




Example button B - Apply now



A slightly more sophisticated change was made in the following test that resulted in a 72% increase in clicks for option ‘B’.


Example button A - Visit our website




Example button B - Click here to see the online demo



In fact whilst retaining the same basic template, I’ve seen the CTR treble after improving the call-to-action creative.


So for a very small outlay in terms of your (or your team’s) time, you make significant improvements to your email programme’s revenue. In fact the areas that will benefit you most, relative to the net gain are those that require the least investment, those areas being the:

  1. Click Through Rate
  2. Open Rate
  3. Database Growth
  4. Deliverability

Therefore make 2013 the year when you improve your email’s ability to help customers identify the content that is meaningful to them and influences their decision to take action. Then see the difference this makes to the revenue that email generates.


Author's avatar

By Richard Austin

Richard Austin is an eMarketing Strategy Consultant in EMEA for Silverpop. You can follow him on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.

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