As an email marketing professional, you obsess about maintaining and growing a database of responsive subscribers, ensuring that your emails make it through the myriad filters to their inboxes, and creating messages that are compelling enough to entice recipients to open them and respond. But you probably don’t worry too much about what happens once those recipients do click through.
And that, says Michelle Eichner, vice president, product management at Unica, is a mistake. She contends that email marketers need to concern themselves with what she calls post-click optimization.
“What we’re really talking about is closing the loop from email,” Eichner explains. “Originally we [email marketers] were concerned about deliverability, then rendering, then how it looked on standard Web devices, and then mobile. I think the industry stopped.”
Because the team responsible for the online experience often differs from the people responsible for email marketing, there can be a disconnect between the email experience and the online experience, particularly in three areas:
1) creative. If the Website and email designers don’t have common brand creative policies, governing color palettes, typography, logo usage, and the like, to adhere to, the branding is likely to be inconsistent between the two media. “Landing pages aren’t necessarily going to mirror the emails,” Eichner says, “but the messaging has to match your corporate design policies.”
2) optimization/rendering. The quality assurance procedures of the online and email departments may differ when it comes to checking rendering and optimization. Emails and Web pages must be tested on a variety of browsers, operating systems, and devices. If emails are being optimized for iPads, say, but landing pages aren’t, a subscriber who clicks through on an iPad may be startled by what he sees (or can’t see) upon leaving the email for the Website.
This disrupts the seamlessness of the customer experience, and, says Eichner, “It’s our job as email marketers to drive the importance [of consistency] because it relates to an experience that begins with our email.”
The Web and email teams should work together to ensure that they are both optimizing for the most important browsers, systems, and devices. You should be able to easily run a few reports that show what the vast majority of your subscribers and site visitors use to access your brand, so that you can determine where to focus your efforts regarding optimization.
3) promotions. It would seem a no-brainer to ensure that if an email is touting a specific offer, the Website would cite the same offer as well. But all too often an email promoting two days of free shipping, for instance, leads to a landing page that still features the standard banner boasting of a $4.95 flat shipping rate.
Instituting QA procedures and reinforcing communication between departments can eliminate most of the bumps on the bridge between the email and the online experiences. And of course, continual vigilance is key too. “We live in an agile world,” Eichner says, “and our processes today aren’t always going to be what they are tomorrow. It’s a never-ending battle.”