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What is the real cost of email marketing?

What is the real cost of email marketing? Eric Krattenstein

When it comes to the marketing mix, email often stands out as the least expensive way to reach a wide audience, with the added bonus of tracking and reporting that other forms of media -- like print ads or direct mail -- can't always deliver. On the surface, marketers know how much they are spending to garner consumers' attention via email -- but that cost-factor is really only part of the equation. With just a few simple missteps, you could be spending a lot more than you think on your email campaign. Ask yourself these four key questions to better understand the real cost of email marketing:

How much is one new client worth to you?

It's estimated that for every dollar spent on email marketing, the average return is $44.25. For some companies, a single client represents hundreds, even thousands of dollars in revenue. Now multiply this by the number of emails that bounce back due to a simple typo. Were the typos worth it? Probably not. Yet it's extremely common for your customers -- or you -- to accidentally type "gmial" instead of "gmail" when entering information into an online form. 

In addition to the potential loss of revenue, if you're paying by the size of your list versus the actual number of emails sent, you're throwing away money for every email that's not delivered. Triple-checking every email address, or leveraging a solution with auto-correct built in, can instantly "increase" the size of your subscriber list -- and potential new clients -- simply by ensuring accuracy.

How often do you need to work offline?

Even though web-based solutions can be convenient, who hasn't tried to finish a project while on the road or dealing with unstable Internet connections (free Wi-Fi, anyone)? According to InformationWeek, the average business suffers from about 14 hours of IT downtime per year, which can negatively impact your productivity as the minutes start to add up. Desktop-based email solutions that also offer an online component may very well give you the best of both worlds, allowing you to work on campaigns whether you're connected or not.

Are your emails optimized for mobile?

According to Experian, 53 percent of total email opens occurred on a mobile device or tablet alone in Q3 of 2014. The Custora E-commerce 2014 report reinforces that statistic by noting that email marketing generated 26.7 percent of sales on mobile phones, compared to 20.9 percent on desktop and 23.1 percent on tablet. Another report notes that 70 percent of mobile users will instantly delete an email if it isn't formatted for their device. That means if your emails aren't optimized for mobile, you're losing potential sales the minute you hit send. Don't take the risk. Make sure you're leveraging responsive email templates that automatically adapt to whatever screen your customer is using.

How valuable is each click?

Whether a click from your email campaign represents a sale, ad revenue, a donation, or something else, it's critical to make sure your email gets through spam filters. But at least 20 percent of emails never make it to the inbox, according to the Email Deliverability 101 report from WhoIsHostingThis. And lower deliverability leads to fewer clicks.

So how can you make sure your email gets fast-tracked? With DMA reporting that 77 percent of email delivery problems attributable to issues with sender reputation, take steps to protect yours. Check the spam protocols of your email marketing provider (the stricter the better), and make sure to use your own domain name (not defaults) in the links and email addresses. That way spam filters know you're the real deal.

As a marketer, you can either keep throwing dollars down the drain, which doesn't make "cents" -- or figure out how your real costs add up, and make the changes you need to keep your email marketing budget under control. Let your profit margin be your guide.

Eric Krattenstein is U.S. CMO at Mailify.

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Eric Krattenstein is the US CMO for Mailify, a France-based responsive email marketing app with over 20,000 users worldwide. Formerly the VP of Internet Marketing for a Digital Agency in NYC, Eric has helped dozens of businesses over the last...

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