I recently had the opportunity to speak with David Klein about email marketing and measurement. David is the Vice President, Marketing Planning and Program Development at Aeroplan. He'll be speaking at the upcoming eMetrics conference in Toronto.
One Degree: Email marketers often obsess about click-through rates. What does Aeroplan consider its top email marketing metric(s)?
Well, we focus on basic email metrics (opens, click-throughs) for each campaign. BUT it's important to remember that each campaign is a snapshot in time and click-throughs only provide a one-dimensional view of a member. Ultimately, we look at engagement of the member in a multi-dimensional way. Metrics like the recency of a member's last open, the recency of their last click. Recency is a very important metric given the frequency of communication email offers.
We also look at groupings of offers within a single email to see which offers get click-throughs. And, we'll look at all of this in relation to segment objectives and performance. Ultimately, it's a balance between supporting the needs of individual campaigns and maintaining overall member program engagement.
Aside from our own metrics, we also recognize that there are lots of emails in a member's inbox. It's a cluttered world and we want to make sure we can stand out in that clutter.
OD: Aeroplan has a number of partners that you promote in your emails – how involved are those partners in measuring success? Do they take an active role?
We get our partners involved in the very early planning stage and try to develop an annual plan with them. They bring their own business objectives or needs; we bring an understanding of what our members expect and what offers elicit the responses our partners require. Ultimately, the measure of success varies by partner – depending on their objectives.
The efficiency of the email channel tends to drive up the frequency of communications. So there is a balancing act of frequency vs fatigue. We must ensure that we balance the program’s need to communicate with members’ receptivity – for the long term benefit of both our partners and our members.
OD: How do you measure your different email segments? Do you use the same KPIs with different goals or do you find that some segments simply take different key metrics?
No, not really. The membership base is segmented, but the way of evaluating campaign performance is the same. Sure, they will have different objectives – but the metrics are the same.
OD: If an email marketer wanted to revitalize their email program what is the first step they should take?
First, identify SPECIFICALLY what the problem is; why is your program languishing?
Then, get back to basics – test and learn.
Testing is a great way to understand what is and isn't working. Every email list has hot buttons depending on your relationship. Test your variables to see what drives measurable change. Test the creative. The segmentation of the list. The offer. The subject line. Your standard direct marketing variables are the ones to play with.
But there is no magic bullet. I find that the speed requirements of marketers now takes away some of the discipline of direct marketing. You had time to think with channels like direct mail. As you waited for orders to come in you could think and adjust. Now, marketers skip steps because they’re so obsessed with speed. Don't dismiss a one or two point gain because you want to rush.
OD: What are your three favourite resources for reliable, trustworthy email marketing information?
First, I trust the Aeroplan data more than anything. Every client base relationship responds differently. Sure, I read a lot about trends and performance drivers but I always defer to the data.
Second, we do a lot of competitive monitoring – see who's doing what in the market place. I subscribe to as many email lists as I can because once it's written up in a trade publication, it's too late.
Third, a strong network of colleagues (either within the business or outside) reciprocally sharing things that they see their network might be interested in.
You can see David Klein at eMetrics Toronto speaking about capturing customer loyalty.