Author Archives: Jonathan Burston

Jonathan Burston

About Jonathan Burston

Jonathan, is Sales Director of CACI’s Customer Solutions Group. He joined the business in 2007 and is responsible for growing sales, new product development and marketing. Over the last 10 years, Jonathan has been a regular contributor to the DM press; a trainer on the DMA’s Buying your data workshop; Vice-Chairman of FEDMA and is currently a member of the DMA Email Marketing Council.

Jonathan started in the data industry back in 1997 when he joined HLB (part of WWAV) as data sales manager responsible for the sales and management of their list management portfolio.

In 1999 he joined Uni-Marketing heading up with list management department. During his time at Uni-Marketing the business became seen as one of the top three list management and broking companies in the UK, which culminated in the company winning the SMART Awards 2004 for Best List Manager and Best List Broker. He was also responsible for managing the UK business for British Family Publishers (part of Time Inc.), the magazine circulation agency.

In 2004 he joined Wegener DM in the role of Commercial Director, where he was responsible for their lifestyle and education sales divisions. He launched Fast-Tracker, the first product in the UK to take a consumer’s response to a lifestyle questionnaire and deliver it to a client within 24 hours, increasing response rates by up to 1000%.

Privacy is dead…get over it!

To many privacy is dead.

We live in a world that is open, barriers have been dismantled:

- you can get information about anything and everything

- you get served recommendations based on previous purchases and what others similar to you have searched for

- we’re all broadcasters in our own right, the technology is just allowing us to deliver to a potential world wide audience

- social communities have been established taking us back to a bygone era that once was about the community you lived in. It’s been transported online and those communities are global.

An open world, where we know more about each other than we’ve ever known, sharing more information about ourselves with more people that we’ve ever done before and with people we’ve never even met and probably will never meet.

It seems like a great world to live in, doesn’t it? This trail of ‘free’ data is harvested to help drive our organisation’s offers to consumers.

But for some this open world raises concerns, so what is on the horizon for privacy?

- New organisations will appear with a remit around protecting your privacy. Organisations such as Jafou or Diaspora, which is a community funded social network pitched as a more private alternative to Facebook. But will they really protect consumers data any differently?

- Streamlining privacy policies – Google has done it. Will other organisations follow suit, or will be it become mandatory?

- Talk has started around creating a ‘do not track me’ list similar to that of MPS in direct mail and TPS in telephone? Is that workable in a digital world?

- Regulation will come in due course, but this will take time, owing to the cross border nature of the digital world, with I believe a stricter application and greater transparency about the use of data.

- Data degradation – Harold Van Heerde says we have a temptation to hoard data in case we find it useful at some later date. His answer is degrading data, where personal information gradually fades away, slowly replaced with more general information e.g. GPS to Street to Neighbourhood to City.

- Consumers will become increasingly more aware of the value of their personal data and their wiliness to trade for content. Creation of new loyalty card like reward systems.  Shift from free and paid for to transparency and trust supported by recognised standards, with a clear explicit use of our data.

Data is the new oil. It’s a valuable commodity and at its core is trust. If that disappears, then the result could be a leak you will never be able to plug.

Organisations need to ensure that they build strong transparent relationships with their customers. A relationship where they can converse, build trust and be explicit.

Clarity and trust will be key for the future.

Destroying customer experience and value with email marketing

We all talk about the power of email marketing, but it really comes home to roost where you’re on the end of a bad experience.

Let me set the scene. With summer on the way I decided to buy some plants for my garden. I chose a company I’d never bought from before but had the recommendation badge from a leading horticultural organisation. At first I had good service, they delivered quickly, but the problems arose with my second order. My second order was left on my doorstep and whilst the box clearly said ‘do not tip’, the delivery company had left it on its side resulting in six of my nine plants being damaged.

I went to the website of the company I bought them from and the only way I could get in contact was through completing their website form (not a good start). There wasn’t an email address for them anywhere. So I sent off my complaint and waited and waited. In fact I waited one week and heard nothing even though their website said they would get back to me within two working days.

I did some more digging around and found an email address hidden on the receipt I’d had for the order, so I sent off another complaint and waited and waited. In the intervening time I received an email from one of their other businesses offering me incontinence products. Signing up for emails from the gardening business and get emails from the incontinence business. I was not impressed.

Four days later I sent my complaint email again. This time I had a response and was pleased with how they coped with it. They were mortified and offered to refund the plants that were damaged, so I responded reminding them that six had been damaged. Sadly I’ve heard nothing since and whilst I’ve emailed I’m a little lost and disappointed that having chased and chased and chased communication has fallen off a cliff.

Email marketing is a powerful communication tool. It can build positive customer experiences and long standing relationships. However, it can also destroy them very quickly. Use it wisely.

Jonathan Burston, Director

Customer Solutions Group, CACI

Happy Birthday – it’s about me not you

It was birthday a couple of weeks ago and imagine my surprise when I received a birthday email from a high street store that also operates a mail order catalogue. Well when I say birthday email it wasn’t really a card in the form of an email, but rather a marketing email.

Now it started me thinking about how if you’re going to employ that tactic, the approach you should use. Consumers expect that when they give their information about themselves that it is appropriately by that organisation. Marketers need to think about how the consumer will feel about receiving an email that utilises this information.

Whilst a birthday email might seem appropriate there are a few things that don’t work. Firstly, a birthday email is ok, but not when you’re trying to sell me something. It doesn’t give me a particular warm feeling about the brand. It’s more about you than it is about me. Secondly, the offer of free postage and packaging isn’t particularly strong or appealing to make me want to purchase. Finally, why send me an email on my birthday with the text ‘find the perfect outfit for your special day’, when in fact to take up the offer means I won’t get my ‘perfect outfit for my special day’. As far as I’m aware no home delivery service is that quick that I can order in the morning and get it by the evening (well not on a Saturday in a small village in the countryside).

Why not try the email a week to 10 days in advance, so that I have time to think about my birthday and might be inticed to purchase from you. So the message is, use the information I give appropriately, think about when I might want to receive it so that it allows me to think about your offer and potentially take it up. Then send me a birthday email and not a sales email on my actual birthday.

Metrics and their meaning – Part 4

Here’s the fourth and final installment of the Legal & Best Practice Hub on Metrics and their meaning. What we’re hoping is to gain your feedback and comments.

This week we’re looking at External Monitoring and Strategic metrics:

External Monitoring

1. Authentication

Definition: A process that verifies an email sender’s identity.

2. Deliverability

Definition: Volumes of e-mails sent less the number of bounces received.

Things to take into consideration: Deliveribility is a big issue, it is also important to deal with the emails that aren’t deliver so you keep your list clean.  It is important to note that this is a measure of which emails were accepted by the ISPs and NOT a measure of emails that reached the inbox.

3. Hard Bounce

Definition: Where the recipient does not see the e-mail due to invalid e-mail addresses, domain failure, ISP blocked etc.

Things to take into consideration: A high hard bounce rate often indicates poor data quality.  Ensure that you remove all of the email addresses that hard bounced immediately and look at your data collection processes to ensure only good data is collected in the future.

4. Soft Bounce

Definition: Emails that suffer from  a temporary delivery problem such as inbox full, server down, etc..

Things to take into consideration: A high soft bounce rate can often indicate problems with e-mail delivery where the ISP is not letting an email through becuase of temporary technical problems, becuase you have received  high level of complaint rates or becuase you are sending messages to them too quickly.

5. Soft Bounce Rate

Definition: The number of soft bounces divided by the number of e-mails delivered (as a %).

6. Frequency

Definition: How often you are emailing each person in your database i.e. some recipients may have a frequency of once a week, whereas others are one every month.

Strategic

7. Lifetime Value of Purchases

Definition: The same as above but based on the first action within a short period of time from when the email was sent.

8. Lifetime Value of Visitors

Definition: Not every visitor purchases on their first visit. They may visit other sites, research the product or service then come back directly to the site. The offer may not be relevant at that time, so they might visit the site and interact at a later date. By being able to apply a wider lifetime visitor value, a more accurate value of the visitors can be ascertained. It is advisable to deduct the people who unsubscribe from this analysis.

9. Purchase Rate (average value)

Definition: This looks at the average value of the first purchase (compared to company average first order value).

Things to take into consideration: This is needed if the offer is driven by a reduced/loss leader offer to ensure that the campaign is not attracting people with a lower value. It should be used with monitoring of lifetime value to ensure the right target audience is being attracted.

10. Reach

Definition: Data users can calculate the reach of their e-mail marketing campaigns over time by calculating the number of unique openers or clickers over the period in question, e.g. 75% of the list opened at least one mailing in the last quarter.

Things to take into consideration: This metric gives a good indication of how your emails are performing across your database as a whole.

So that’s part 4. We look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Metrics and their meaning – Part 3

Here’s the third installment of the Legal & Best Practice Hub on Metrics and their meaning. What we’re hoping is to gain your feedback and comments. This week we’re looking at Internal Monitoring and more of the metrics that feature in this area:

1. Conversion rate

Definition: Clicks on a particular link within the email divided by the total clicks.

Things to take into consideration: The number of ‘take-ups’ resulting from the e-mail activity e.g. the number of credit cards or personal loans offered as a result of the e-mail. Only includes data that is clearly based on known responses to e-mails.

2. Hard Bounce Rate

Definition: The number of hard bounces divided by the number of e-mails delivered (as a %).

Things to take into consideration: Hard bounces are e-mails which are no longer in use. These need to be removed from any future campaigns. There is no benefit in sending e-mails to an address no longer in use and there is likely to be a negative impact on deliverability.

3. Increase in Web Traffic During Effective Period of Campaign

Definition: Lift in web traffic over the established benchmark.

Things to take into consideration: It is important to monitor the number of direct visits to the website during and just after the campaign is sent to account for the individuals who do not click but enter directly into the site.

4. Link Click-through Rate

Definition: Clicks on a particular link within the email divided by the total clicks.

Things to take into consideration: This can be used to see which links are most popular with the recipients, and can be used to gauge how to further target users when sending future e-mails, and where to concentrate efforts in future campaigns.

5. Opt-out

Definition: When a recipient unsubscribes or opts-out of further communications.

6. Opt-out Rate

Definition: The number of opt-outs/unsubscribes divided by the number of e-mails delivered (as a %).

7. Refer a friend rate

Definition: The number of people who request that the email be forwarded divided by the number of emails delivered.

Things to take into consideration: Refer to DMA best practice on refer a friend. Don’t inappropriately incentivize people to forward it on. Make sure it is a one off email clearly stating why the individual has received it, giving them the option to opt in or engage with you but do not follow up if they don’t.

8. Response Rate

Definition: The number of responses including clicks, email replies, increased web traffic, store visits or call to the call centre divided by the number of emails delivered.

9. Sign-up Rate

Definition: How many people sign up to receive future communications from the company.

Things to take into consideration: It is important to make this an option that users can find easily.

10. Unique Click to Open Rate

Definition: This metric attempts to answer the question, “Of the Unique e-mail Opens, how many individuals took an action?” It is calculated as Unique Click-through over Unique e-mail Opens.

So that’s part 3. We look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Metrics and their meaning – Part 2

Here's the second installment of the Legal & Best Practice Hub on Metrics and their meaning. What we're hoping is to gain your feedback and comments.

This week we're looking at Internal Monitoring and the metrics that feature in this area:

1. Average Soft Bounce Rate        

Definition: The number of soft bounces divided by the number of e-mails delivered (as a %).         

Things to take into consideration: A soft bounce indicates a temporary reason (inbox full, server temporarily unavailable etc.) why the e-mail can not go into the inbox. In this instance, it is worth trying the e-mail address at a later date. However, monitor repeat soft bounces and remove after a maximum of three.

2. Average Total Click-through Rate        

Definition: Number of total clicks divided by number of e-mails delivered (as a %).

Things to take into consideration: If comparing results with other campaigns, make sure the click-through rate is measured using the same metrics. It can be click against e-mails sent, e-mails delivered or e-mails opened. Always compare like for like, and know which option has been used.

This metric attempts to answer the question, “How many times did a person click on a link or multiple links within this e-mail?” This may or may not include clicks on unsubscribe links or other links, and you may find it helpful to view click-through reporting by individual link. This metric is a whole number in the form “100,000″ or as an e-mail Click-through Rate percentage in the form “10%”. The denominator is e-mail delivered, and this percentage may exceed 100%. [Source: Internet Advertising Bureau]"

3. Average Unique Click-through Rate        

Definition: Number of individuals who have clicked through divided by number of e-mails delivered (as a %).        

Things to take into consideration: This is a measure of the emails overall effectiveness because it looks at emails that generated a click.  If the campaign is an acquisition campaign then this is a more valuable measure than total click rate.

4. Average Unique Open Rate        

Definition: Unique opens divided by number of e-mails delivered (as a %).        

Things to take into consideration: Due to the high number of false negatives (emails that did not show as opened because the images were switched off) and false positive(emails that were opened in the preview pane but were not viewed by the recipient) this is not an accurate measure of how many emails were opened.  It is however an excellent directional indicator of the effectiveness of your subject line among other things.  Make sure reporting is consistent. For example, if comparing different sources, ensure it is not confused with opens from sent or total opens (which will include when the same person opens an e-mail more than once).

5. Click to Conversion Rate        

Definition: Number of clicks divided by the number of conversions or intended actions e.g. clicks converting to sign-ups for a newsletter or a successful download on an offer.        

Things to take into consideration: This is the key metric when measuring success. It is important that you are clear from the start that the objective is defined. Also remember not to use this metric in isolation. The uplift in actions that come directly to the site, via telephone or visit to a shop show room need also to be recognised as a benefit of the email campaign.

6. Click to Open Rate        

Definition: Number of clicks divided by the number of opens.  It is generally calculated as either Unique Click-through over Unique e-mail Opens, or Total e-mail Click-through over Total e-mail Opens. [Source: Internet Advertising Bureau]         

Things to take into consideration: This metric attempts to answer the question, "Of the Unique e-mail Opens, how many individuals took an action?"

7. Click to Purchase        

Definition: Data Users can correlate directly the clicks from the e-mail resulting in transactional behaviour. From this a clear calculation of the Return on Investment (ROI) from a programme or campaign can be made. It is considered to be best practice to always pre-define measurement and success criteria and to track conversions accordingly. This can either be achieved directly using tracking technologies embedded with the e-mail, or via a data match back process post campaign. [Source: DMA Best Practice Guidelines]  

Things to take into consideration: From this a clear calculation of the Return on Investment (ROI) from a programme or campaign can be made. It is considered to be best practice to always pre-define measurement and success criteria and to track conversions accordingly. This can either be achieved directly using tracking technologies embedded with the e-mail, or via a data match back process post campaign.

This is a valuable measure but it is important not to only attribute this value to the email. Email is not 100% trackable. Remember consumers do not always react in the way we want them to. Some will pick up the phone, come to the site direct or interact with your brand in a different way to through the email.  Remember to add additional value when looking at the true benefits. "

8. Click-through Metrics   
     

Definition:

• Total Click Rate (Total Clicks/Total Delivered)

• Unique Click Rate (Unique Clicks/Total Delivered)

• Click to Open Rate (Unique Clicks/ Total Opened)"        

Things to take into consideration: It is important to define what metric you are using and be consistent. These measures do have a value particularly in terms of relevance to the audience targeted, but must be used in context. It is important not to use these measures in isolation to judge success, the results in relation to end results are what should do this.

9. Click-through Tracking 
       

Definition: When a hotlink is included in an e-mail, a click-through occurs when a recipient clicks on the link. Click-through tracking refers to the data collected about each link clicked, such as how many people clicked it, how many clicks resulted in desired actions such as sales, forwards or subscriptions. [Source: Marketing Sherpa]         

So that's part 2. We look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Jonathan Burston

CACI & Legal and Best Practice Hub

Metrics and their meaning

The DMA Legal & Best Practice Hub of the Email Marketing Council have for a number of months been working on defining the metrics that are commonly used day to day within our industry. Why? Because with so many definitions and meanings it’s often difficult to keep track and to help those new to the industry to understand what a term means when they hear it.

Over the coming weeks we’ll be publishing the metrics on this blog for your comment and feedback. We’ve decided to split them up so as to make it easier to read and comment on, so feel free to add your thoughts and comments to the list of metrics below.

We’ve categorised the metrics and the first category is ‘The Email’:

1. Above the Fold

Definition: This is the part of the email message that is visible without the need for scrolling.

Things to take into consideration: This is generally the most important and valuable area as a individual sees this information first.  The area above the fold changes size depending on the recipients screen resolution.

2. Cell

Definition: The combination of content with a group of recipients (frequently called a segment). The content can be unique to this group to improve response, or it can be the same in order to easily test response.

Things to take into consideration: This type of personalisation can be the most effective way to get optimum response for e-mail. The more you capture and learn about a group of users, the more effective it will be. Split test campaigns against the same creative with generic content to gauge if there is an uplift with this level of personalisation.

3. Dynamic Content

Definition: Content that is chosen by the system when the e-mail is being created. This content is based on the recipient’s attributes stored in the database.

4. HTML message

Definition: An email that contains any formatting other than ascii text.

5. Personalisation

Definition: Database values that are inserted by the system when the e-mail is being created.

6. Plain Text

Definition: An email that consists of solely text and no other formatting code.

7.  Subject Line

Definition: The field at the top of an e-mail template in which the title or subject of the e-mail can be typed. It is important to have a strong subject line, particularly if using e-mail for advertising or promotional purposes, or the recipient may simply delete the e-mail.
source: emailmaketingpro.org/email-marketing-terms

Things to take into consideration: The subject line can effect the open rate of an email hugely. This is one reason why open rates should not be used to gauge the effectiveness of a campaign. The aim of the subject line is to get people to open the email but it should give enough accurate information to ensure that when the recipient opens the email it is relevant and what they expect, which in turn will result in the end action being optimised.

So that’s our first part published and look forward to receiving your thoughts and comments.