How Publishers Clearing House Improved its Open and Clickthrough Rates
The high return on investment offered by email drives marketers to the channel, but that attraction also has a downside: The more companies sending emails, the harder it is to differentiate yourself from the pack. Add in the fact that consumer interaction with email is declining, and you can see why marketers are more challenged than ever to be be relevant in the eyes of consumers.
In a session at last month's Digital Marketing Days Conference & Expo in New York City, Chris Marriott, vice president of global agency services at interactive marketing services firm Acxiom, and Josh Glantz, vice president and general manager at Publishers Clearing House (PCH) Online, the internet destination of the sweepstakes marketer, detailed how an integrated marketing approach can still win over consumers’ attention — and wallets.
Consumers are choosing to remain uninformed until they're ready to listen to you, said Marriott. Therefore, reward those who listen to you. Do this by tracking and learning from every interaction you have with them. Calling this his “Groundhog Day” theory of marketing, Marriott drew from the 1993 film where the main character (Bill Murray) finds himself living the same day over and over again. Marketers must recognize customers and treat them like an old friend, he said.
The next step is to seek to understand why customers are behaving in a certain manner (e.g., purchases in-store after receiving an email) so that you can predict their future behavior, said Marriott. Build strategies around gained insight and put that info into future marketing messages. Users want emails from you as long as they're relevant, Marriott added.
And relevance is grounded in consumer recognition. Your company needs to have institutional memory at every customer touchpoint that can be acted upon, Marriott said, because “insight without execution is pointless.” Think “what are they likely to buy rather than what's in the back room that you're looking to get rid of.”
How PCH Drives Clickthroughs
The myth of email is that the CAN-SPAM legislation would reduce the volume of email consumers receive. The reality is that consumers are receiving more email than ever, and 90 percent of that email is junk. For PCH, therefore, maintaining a clean sender reputation is critical. Here are some of the ways PCH keeps a clean sender reputation, despite being a high-volume email marketer:
- PCH has a compliance department whose sole job is to monitor sender reputation. The team looks at deliverability rates, complaint rates and volume on a campaign-level basis. Contrary to popular opinion, PCH views its compliance team as a revenue-generating opportunity, said Glantz, noting that it can decrease liability, protect its brand and increase campaign-level metrics such as deliverability and profit.
- Scrubs its email list at least every 90 days, sometimes 30 days. This includes checking for invalid or nonexistent accounts, duplicate addresses, and spam trap hits (i.e., old or abandoned email addresses used by internet service providers to trap spammers).
- Has partnered with email reputation services provider Return Path to find out its sender score.
PCH doesn't rely on the typical acquisition sources that many other email marketers do, namely third-party providers, banner ads and list rentals. A strong network of email partners help PCH update its list with fresh names. But it does its homework to make sure all of its partners are legitimate.
Monitoring your partners is critical, said Glantz. Know who is marketing your brand, their reputation, mailing practices and other clients. As an advertiser, you're responsible for your email partners, he cautioned.
PCH's impeccable sending reputation has benefited the brand in several ways, said Glantz. It's helped it improve its deliverability rates, attract better partners and ultimately stand out in the inbox. A recent test campaign produced a 98 percent deliverability rate with a 22.7 percent open rate and 20.7 percent clickthrough rate.
Joe Keenan is the executive editor of Total Retail. Joe has more than 10 years experience covering the retail industry, and enjoys profiling innovative companies and people in the space.