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Is Forgetting the CTA the Secret to Email Program Success?

When you aren’t seeing the conversions, that doesn’t mean email isn’t working. In other words: You may not need to focus so much on clicks on your calls-to-action (CTA).

When I joined Litmus over two years ago, there was a very robust content marketing program in place. It was (and is) one of the best in the business and it’s a huge part of what made me excited to be here. The Litmus marketing team had been doing the hard work building trust post by post. Video by video. Event by event.

And it worked because it was real. These were real people talking with a real community about common problems and solutions, ideas, inside jokes, inspiration… the whole gamut. Our own email marketing wasn’t just a channel. It was a thoughtful conversation and it kept us connected to our community in very real and authentic ways. But we had one problem, and it’s an all too common one in our industry…

The challenge

We couldn’t quite prove the total impact of email. We knew the value of email marketing instinctively, of course, and through open rates, clicks, and much more, we also knew the hard work it was doing for the business every day. It just didn’t always show up in the numbers when we were looking at conversions directly from our email sends.

Understanding is key

Luckily, we have a leadership team that understands that even when we can’t map conversions and revenue back to email, we can trust it’s doing its job. But not all companies are fortunate to have that. So, where do you start? The numbers.

Digging in to analyze

We knew that over half our revenue was coming from organic and direct traffic as well, so odds were good that our email list and our email content was driving conversions outside our direct line of sight. We knew that our Search Engine Optimization (SEO) was naturally strong and driving visits with the same content in our email programs.

But we were underwhelmed when we looked at the metrics. Email was driving roughly 6% of our direct sales pipeline every month from a last touch attribution perspective. (Click here to learn more about attribution models.)  It was driving about 4% of our total traffic. We knew that our programs were doing all of the right things. Our opens and clicks were strong, our read rates were solid, our nurturing was personalized and behavior driven.

At the beginning of 2020 we decided to get serious about attribution and beefed up our tech stack accordingly. We wanted more information about the full impact (primarily) of our paid media spend. But we knew that this modeling would allow better visibility into the large amount of traffic that already knew us well enough to come straight to our site when they were ready to talk about the product.

We implemented a full path view into how our marketing channels were driving key performance areas.

So, what did we learn?

1. Email is a lot more powerful than even we knew.

We saw a 54% lift in direct sales pipeline attributed to email when we ran through a full path model vs. a last touch one.

2. Not all messages need to have a conversion goal.

What’s the right mix? There isn’t a one-size-fits all answer; it needs to work for your audience. But delivering true value in the inbox is doing effective marketing–whether you get that click through or not.

Essentially, what it boils down to is this: Email is an awareness channel as much as it is a conversion channel. Keep honing how you attribute conversions and you’ll find your way beyond only looking at the CTA.



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