How to speak your boss’s language: Three ways to make the business case for email

Email is one of the most popular marketing tools, but, likely, your CEO doesn’t fully understand how important it is to the bottom line. Unfortunately, most marketers also don’t understand it. We won’t be able to convince the boss of our need for resources if we do not understand it.

The resource-to-imbalance is a problem that plagues email marketing. Even if the email is poorly done, it has a good ROI.

Without dedicated email specialists, you can’t implement best practices to take your ROI from good to great.

Imagine you would like to increase the budget for your email marketing from $300,000.

You’ll likely get a quick “no” if you make the usual plea to increase your budget “because you need it.” If you say that the $200,000 spent can be used to produce $8 million more, your CEO is likely to tell you, “Make it so.”

Here are three steps to help you talk business with your boss without weighing them down with marketing speak:

Clarify what email is best for your business.

Document your reasons for not implementing the best possible approach.

Create a credible and clear picture of the possibilities that new resources offer.

What email is best

Email is used for various purposes, from shipping notifications to marketing campaigns and even to say hi to Bob. It’s hard to determine the value of email until you understand its strategic role in your business.

Start by assessing the various ways in which your company sends out emails to its external customers. How many emails are sent to customers, partners, and prospects? Who sends these messages – other marketing teams, sales, support, IT? Ask why. Once you’ve identified who is doing what, ask them to explain.

Take a step back and consider the most effective emails from a marketing strategy perspective. This is usually a relatively simple process for ecommerce companies and retailers. Email can increase sales and loyalty to your company by driving customers regularly to your website and retail location.

What if you are a B2B employee? You could use your newsletters and follow-up emails to lead prospects to the “ready-to buy” stage. This would increase the productivity of your team.

With your management, agree on email’s role in your business, whether for building relationships with customers, retaining them, driving revenue, or generating leads.

Improve your email process, and you will see tangible benefits.

Show what’s wrong with your current approach

Consider hiring an email marketing specialist to audit your program. They can be a “voice of authority, ” often uncovering opportunities you never imagined. For example, they may find ways to improve deliverability or increase opt-in rates.

The audit should include “process” metrics to show how well your email program has been executed. Unsubscribes, bounce rates, spam complaints, unsubscribe rates, and click-through rates are all indicators of more significant issues, for example, the health of your list or how compelling your subject lines are.

Don’t forget that you may be the only person who is concerned about your process metrics. Your CEO probably doesn’t care.

Boardrooms are fueled by “output” metrics. The boss is interested in how email marketing helps the company grow. It is essential to know how email marketing has helped the company. Did it increase revenue by 20%, brand awareness by 20 percentage points, or get 10% of prospects to sign up for demos?

If email’s one core role, for example, is converting second-tier search-engine-marketing leads into top-tier leads that the sales force can pursue, that’s the starting point for your ROI analysis.

Calculate your baseline ROI by determining how much it costs today to achieve the core strategic goal of email. Include the cost of the employee’s time. Unworkable internal processes can be a significant bottleneck in the path to ROI.

Put your ROI calculations into context by benchmarking against industry averages, best practices, and trade reports. Comparing your company to the industry leaders and competitors is the best way to determine whether or not you are achieving stellar results.

Prove that new resources have a positive impact on the bottom line

The CEO will be able to hear the constant cries of the marketer for more help when they reach this final and third step.

You do not just ask for another full-time worker but instead perform a “gap-analysis” based on facts to determine how much you will need to spend to reach your goals.

Gap analysis is where you can turn those pesky metrics of the process into a solid business case. You need to hire people with the appropriate skill sets to rework your opt-in and authentication processes if you only get 75% deliverability. How close would you be to your strategic goal if you closed that 20% gap?

You can also justify changes in strategy. Your thought-leadership email may encourage prospects to sign up for five demos a month, but your strategic goal is 25, so you present the costs and benefits associated with these changes. You may need to change your approach, increase the frequency of emails, or create a new email vehicle geared towards lifecycles to close the 20-demo hole. So, you should present all costs and benefits related to this change.

You must align your budgeting requests with the “resources-culture” in your organization. If your CEO is a fan of outsourcing, you might recommend that your company use an email marketing agency or your ESP.

When you put it all together, the result is a compelling business case:

Present the current situation: Spend $300,000 on email software, designers, and staffing.

Explain what is possible: We can generate revenue of $14 million if we invest $500,000.

Explain how you will close the gap — that tighter list segmentation, higher deliverability, and reduced list churn impact your strategic goals by either X% or Y$. It forces you to be conservative in your forecasts and convinces your CEO that you can accurately measure improvements and hold yourself responsible.

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