I’ve written before about email optimization. In fact, that’s almost all I write about here – ways to pump up your results through better subject lines, more targeted content strategies, list management, A/B testing and other tactics. Many of the features and reports you need to improve your email results are already built into the Real Magnet application.

Some are not, though I maintain that it’s not our fault. There are ways of improving your email program that have nothing to do with the act of composing and distributing email itself, but rely instead on activities that take place before and after the email process. Let’s call it extra-email optimization, or optimization of email that takes place outside of email. When we focus on our email metrics, it’s easy to get a little bit myopic. When we look at click-through rate, for example, we aren’t so concerned with how many people click through our messages as we are how many are then in a position to register for our conference, or who then generate page views and ad impressions on our website. Your emails are not by themselves an initative; they’re a tool for driving a larger company objective.

Your email, then, better achieves your organization’s objectives if:

– More people subscribe to it
– Your subscribers are more inclined to open and act on your emails
– If they complete whatever action the click-through encourages them to take

None of this happens within the email itself. But the success of your emails can be heavily influenced by optimizing each of these steps with your email program in mind. Here’s how:

More subscribers: Are you doing everything you can to grow your list, by allowing people to opt in when registering for your conference, downloading white papers on your site or making online purchases? Is it easy to join your list in the “Contact Us” and/or “About Us” section of your website? Have you used your social channels to promote your newsletter and other email subscriptions? What about your physical presence – do you collect email addresses at storefronts, trade shows and other places where you exist in the real world? Be resourceful and vigilant in your recruitment efforts. Every minute of resources you put into composing and distributing your emails is amplified by each additional subscriber you have.

Greater inclination to open and act on messages: This isn’t about sending more interesting or targeted messages. Rather, it’s about anticipation. Your subscribers need to expect and even look forward to your messages. With the rise in email volume over the past few years, anticipation has become one of the most challenging elements of email marketing. Certainly improved targeting of messages and list hygiene helps, but I’m a strong believer that your organization’s relationship with your subscribers outside of the inbox can yield the greatest lift. I’ve written about email in the marketing mix previously, and anticipation is where it pays off in spades. The more you are in your subscribers’ lives – via social channels or on the phone or in person or via direct mail – the more relevant your brand becomes. Relevancy begets anticipation. Your email program will work better if you supplement it with other points of customer contact.

Post-click-through action: Fire up your website analytic engine. It’s time to take a look at your landing pages, and how well they’re performing. You’re already testing different elements of your email to see what works better – this subject line, that layout, those links. Do you do the same thing with what happens on the other side of the click-through? Do you know, for example, if your conference marketing emails drive more registrations by driving your email subscribers to the conference main page, the agenda, or the registration page? Do you see deeper engagement if you drop your subscribers off on your homepage, or deliver them deeper into your website? Independent of your email, have you put resources into merchandising your content effectively, usability testing, or shopping cart / checkout optimization? Online retailers live and breathe for these tactics, and other business can learn a lot from their best practices. Think about it: if you’re trying to drive a webinar registration or encourage someone to sign up for your premium online content or services, you’re in the e-commerce business too. And even if you’re not competing with Amazon.com, your customers have had their expectations on usability and checkout set there.

Next time you see a meeting invite for a project at your company that iss outside of the scope of email marketing, think about it in this new context. Giving email a seat in that conference room could mean more subscribers, greater anticipation, and improved results.