One aspect of my role at BrightWave Marketing is to evaluate and recommend complementary solutions for our clients’ email programs. My team also shares responsibility for performing analysis of our clients’ email programs and campaigns. This will be the first-ever ‘New Tools’ spotlight where I’ll be sharing about new tools that we believe could enhance email programs. So, if you know of any new technology that you think is worth sharing about, tweet to me at @emailrocks, and I’ll gladly consider providing my $.02 directly or via our blog.
As savvy email marketers well-know, spending the time crunching the numbers in the name of identifying trends in program performance can make your eyes roll back inside your head sometimes. The sheer amount of data to gather, consume and analyze can be overwhelming. While most ESPs have some level of baked in reporting, there are often unanswered questions that cannot be answered without a good bit of manual work, especially when it comes to trends.
I believe our clients expect us as email experts to be able to see the ‘forest’ in spite of all the ‘trees’ in front of us. It becomes very easy to become near-sighted about our approaches to all the impactful, little details that can make or break any given email campaign’s success – subject lines, preview text, calls-to-action, creative design.
I had the opportunity to do a demo with our friends at Return Path of their new Inbox Insight tool and I got to see several features of the tool that I thought were very compelling.
Trendspotting at a Glance
The Dashboard immediately pays off on a few things that are worth noting. Color-coded symbols and the red/green arrows make it monitor performance across metrics like Read Rate, Deleted without Reading, ISP- and User-Marked Spam.
Targeted, Meaningful Competitive Analysis
“How does our email program compare to our competitors’?”
Ever get asked that question? The utility of published industry benchmarks ends as soon as you realize that you’ll never know which companies were included in any given industry vertical. One of the most subtle yet powerful aspects that I like about Inbox Insight is the ability to accurately name which sending domains you want to include in any given competitor profile. For example, I know that PayPal receipts from the @paypal.com domain while the promotional emails come from @e.paypal.com.
Actionable Competitive Insights on Day of Week?
It’s one thing to know what your competitors are doing. It’s another thing to put that information and insight to work in your favor. One of the easiest and potentially valuable insights that I found came from the “Trends” tab where you can see which days of the week other marketers including your competitors are sending most frequently. It provides an easy way to either test ‘low tide’ for inbox competition or ensure that you’re in the mix for consideration when your competitors are in the inbox. For example, what if Friendly’s could see that Dairy Queen sends email much more often than they do with a higher average read rate? They could test out sending more frequently based on which days of week are most effective for Dairy Queen.
How Social is Your Email Database?
With so much talk about integrating digital campaigns, pairing email and social media was one of the early contenders for channel integration. Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible for most marketers to know what percentage of their email subscribers might use or respond to a call-to-action to share email content on their social networks. Inbox Insight would help a brand like Zappos determine which social networks their subscribers are on by identifying which subscribers are receiving notification emails. In this case, more of Zappos’ subscribers are using Facebook than are using Twitter.
I know that one of the hardest things about being in email marketing is that it’s often hard to win budgets for additional tools beyond what has been allocated. It’ll be important to demonstrate the value of a tool like Inbox Insight (potential or actual) in currency that counts: hours saved in analysis OR incremental engagement/purchases stemming from competitive insights. Either way, Inbox Insight is an exciting new tool that can help raise the email flag even higher on the marketing flagpole.