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Getting the Most From an Email Campaign

I know the focus for radio today is on social media. Whether it's "Friends," "Likes," or "@Mentions," the radio industry seems absorbed in using SM as a means of growing "engagement" (the new radio buzzword).

Here's something to think about which gives immediate "engagement" metrics in a way that coincides with the tech world's definition of the word: Radio stations have the means to build massive email data bases which can be used to measure response, to test messaging, and to quantify cost to an advertiser who's looking for ROI (as defined in new media).

"Social media may be what's hot in the radio industry, but don't do it at the expense of email contact." There is little written about how the radio industry uses email campaigns. Over the past year I've not seen anything in radio trades on culling a list, counting its response, or in using email to strengthen an audience relationship - despite the fact that radio is in a perfect position to acquire names, and serve its listeners via email better than any traditional media.

Radio has the means to gather names through a call-to-action on-air, by registration for elements on its web sites, and through contesting using social media. If used, radio's reach and frequency will guarantee list growth.

What's done with those names after acquisition is the question. How a list is built (and maintained) provides entry into the use of new media for radio, and an ability to more closely align your station, one-on-one, with each recipient. There are only a few rules to follow which will get you to the goal.

1) Make sure all names on your email list are "opt-in," that the person knows
they are requesting to receive an email from you
2) Guarantee that after opening your email the recipient will have a feeling
of gaining something (information, security, companionship, etc...)
3) Test your message before sending out to the masses
4) Immediately honor all "remove" requests
5) Cull the list after each mailing

Email marketing or simple email contact is straightforward; you send a message, the receiving person replies (or not). And, it is the message that will make or break any email campaign. Example: If each email campaign carries a "me, me, me" style of engagement it won't be long before your whole list is worthless - which makes #2 (above) the most important point to consider.

Limiting email contact is another factor. How much is too much depends on what's offered, but I've found that anything more frequent than a couple times a month increases the "request to remove" rate.

Organized distribution is essential. This is not a radio industry broadcast-style of blasting your message out. It's more like knocking on someone's door, and saying "I think you'll find this interesting."

Tracking your campaigns is not as complicated as one might suspect. I go the route of separating email addresses alphabetically, sending them out in groups, and then tracking the response from each group as either "bounced," "request removal," or "took action." The latter is merely counting the number of "successes" in each group, as defined by whatever "success" is for that particular mailing.

To get you started, duplicate this basic spreadsheet I use to track campaigns.

This is an actual report used in an Audio Graphics email campaign. This list has 6,100 names, but other AG lists contain as many as 75,000 or as few as a thousand names. Maintaining a "list library" is vitally important for segregating and tracking messages.

As a point of reference, the number sent, bounce rate, and request for removal rate on this mailing is 6,147, 0.83%, and 0.08% respectively. By properly culling the list after each mailing, my latest mailing (last week), to this same list, produced bounce and removal rates of 0.42%, 0.17% respectively. This last mailing was sent to 6,459 persons, a 5% increase.

Email is still the most used, and effective form of online communications. While this spreadsheet is simplistic (there are many more elements that I track), it is enough to help develop your own email campaign tracking system. "# Remaining," "Bounce %", and "Request %" rates are automatically calculated on the tracking sheet you may download.

Social media may be what's hot in the radio industry, but don't do it at the expense of email contact. Maintaining an email list is your best investment of time and human resources. Its possibilities for increasing non-spot revenue are significant.

Ken Dardis
Audio Graphics

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