An open letter for email marketing channels

I replied by asking how much his email program cost. Counting software fees and personnel costs, the company invests around $100 per month, he replied. “If just one of your recipients responded to your offer, how much revenue would you net?” I asked. “Several hundreds of dollars. Maybe thousands,” he replied. “Still think it’s not worth it?” I asked.

Email marketing can be humbling. The vast majority of recipients won’t open your emails. Averages vary by industry, but in any industry, 20{4c655e7448f17f478aee32899fe07a58aae4b27abd18a372b67337b64792cdd0} to 30{4c655e7448f17f478aee32899fe07a58aae4b27abd18a372b67337b64792cdd0} open rates would be fine. That means 70{4c655e7448f17f478aee32899fe07a58aae4b27abd18a372b67337b64792cdd0} to 80{4c655e7448f17f478aee32899fe07a58aae4b27abd18a372b67337b64792cdd0} are not opening the emails, and that’s OK.

Indeed, those are ego-shaking numbers. But your business goal is not to maximize your open rate. Don’t worry about the ones who don’t open your emails. Focus on the 20{4c655e7448f17f478aee32899fe07a58aae4b27abd18a372b67337b64792cdd0} to 30{4c655e7448f17f478aee32899fe07a58aae4b27abd18a372b67337b64792cdd0} of people who open them.

Apply the questions I asked my client to your campaign: How much does the campaign cost, including software and personnel? How much revenue would one sale net? How many sales do you need for net revenue to exceed campaign cost? How many sales can you attribute to this campaign? In most cases, that equation will generate happy results for you – even if more than 70{4c655e7448f17f478aee32899fe07a58aae4b27abd18a372b67337b64792cdd0} of your recipients don’t open your email.

(This article first appeared in St. Louis Small Business Monthly which publishes a monthly column, High-Voltage Marketing, by MarketVolt’s Tom Ruwitch.)

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