Joanne Rigby, Marketing Director, Asia Pacific, Premiere Global ServicesMarketing budgets frequently end up on the chopping board during economic uncertainties.

Fortunately, it is not all doom and gloom. According to a recent study conducted by Harvard Business Review, companies that increase their marketing efforts during a recession, can improve market share and return on investment at a lower cost than during good economic times.

The fact of the matter is, many do not have the luxury of increasing their marketing spending. That said, most marketers know that in order to remain competitive and be able to emerge from the downturn, they need to deploy smarter and more strategic marketing approaches that will set them apart from their competitors.

The current economic outlook has resulted in many businesses turning to more cost effective and quantifiable strategies, such as email marketing, that ensure measurable and ROI driven results. During the current gloom, companies need to think of creative, innovative and out-of-the-box ideas in order to remain competitive. It is the ability to make significant changes to your marketing efforts and strategies without incurring significant business risk that provides marketers with a fantastic platform to improve business performance.

A vast majority of companies sees tremendous value in email marketing and are continuing to spend money on it throughout 2009. In fact, a recent Jupiter Research report further emphasized this trend by revealing that email marketing is set to grow 75% by 2012, to reach $2.1 billion.

When it comes to email marketing, it is crucial that marketers identify and implement the right processes, procedures and measurements so that a successful campaign can be established.

The following may seem obvious and may sound simplistic, but these steps will be able to point marketers in the right direction when it comes to making the most of an email marketing strategy.

Test and Measure

In a tough economy, it doesn’t make sense for businesses to waste money and effort on executing marketing campaigns that doesn’t yield results they need.

Testing and measuring is an important strategy in email marketing as it helps businesses find out what works best and is most effective in generating good results for their efforts in 24 to 72 hours.

Measuring isn't just for big companies with a full-time marketing staff - the cost conscious marketers can also test their own marketing efforts quickly and efficiently by following a few simple metrics. Deliverability, opening rate, click through rate (CTR) as well as conversions are some of the basic key metrics that marketers can use to measure the success rate of their campaign.

Marketers can also test the important elements of their email message, like subject lines and long versus short copy, at very little or no extra cost. A simple A/B testing can go a long way. They can either split the entire target list in half and test one against the other or take a random sample and do a pre-test.

A pre-test is an excellent way to find out what works before sending the email to your entire list. It greatly improve the overall response rate as well as protects businesses from sending a poor performing email test to a large portion of their target list.

Establish your objectives.

As with any communications program, it is important to ensure that your email campaign fits in with your company’s overall marketing goals. Take the time to invest in understanding your target’s background and key characteristics to ensure there’s a clear focus on your offerings and messages that you want to communicate across.

Define your target audience.

Your email marketing campaign will be ineffective without proper targeting and customer segmentation. It is essential that you know, and understand who your target audience is and look at the world from their point of view.

Gain further insight into your customers’ segments and what’s most relevant to them by collating demographic and psychographic data. Once that’s done, break your audience into smaller groups and then target your messages accordingly to each group based on their commonalities.

Different people respond to different messages so always remember to be as specific as you possibly can when you identify your target segments and craft your email communications.

Build your message.

According to Marketing Sherpa Benchmark Study 2008, email readers will decide whether to open an email in a fraction of a second. If it takes too long for a reader to get to the point, they won’t read the entire subject line.

If you want your email messages to be read, you need to relay your message in a clear and straightforward manner. Make a point to develop a message that is interesting, personal, easy to read, and relevant to the recipient’s interests. Be sure to add value with each email that you send – by doing this, your email becomes relevant and interesting to your readers. Always remember to write in a friendly, approachable tone and encourage quick response with click-through to your company’s Web site and eye-catching visuals.

It is important to remember that as fun and as eye-catching as images are, you need to use them sparingly in your email message and design. Make a point to strike an ideal balance of aesthetics and functionality factors in every email that you send out. Image suppression in most email clients is alive and well, so do remember to take that into consideration when designing your headers and main call-to-actions accordingly.

Determine your offer.

By leveraging your database, you can target specific demographic groups with offers that suit their needs and interests. Personalize your email offer and don’t be afraid to make it more compelling than an offer your customer could find in a retail store or even through your competitor.

Lead generation offers such as free samples, free gifts, white papers, sweepstakes/contests, and free webinars, have all proven effective.


Companies need not necessarily increase spending, but analyze results and choose activities that are more likely to reap rewards and in the long run, help them emerge from the current economic slump. By taking these actions now, marketers will be able to survive and eventually ride out the storm and more importantly, be well positioned to build and strengthen its market share when market conditions start to improve.

By Joanne Rigby, Marketing Director, Asia Pacific, Premiere Global Services