Email marketing has come a long way since its advent back in 1978. We now have smartphones in which to access email all the time, automatic spam filters, and savvy consumers who want more personalized messages. Some say that email marketing is dead but we can tell you truthfully that it is not.
Here are some useful tips, tricks and perspectives on how to approach email marketing catered specifically for marketing professionals.
Where is Email Now?
Other than the newfangled approach where we can use our Facebook, Twitter or Google+ accounts to log into everything, many websites won’t allow you to sign up for anything unless you provide them with an email address. Admit it, you still use email every day to connect with colleagues, clients and brands and appreciate the personal nature it affords (especially compared to social media).
While email consumption rates continue to rise (you can thank smartphones for that) the data brands are able to pull from it can help with marketing efforts and can also be used to compliment other channels. More about that later.
What Channels do Marketers Use Most?
Research shows that email marketing is used more frequently than most other digital marketing outlets. 88 percent of marketers use email marketing, compared to 78 percent for social media marketing, 73 percent for SEO and SEM, 37 percent for lead scoring and 64 percent display or banner ads. Only three percent of marketers say that they don’t plan on using email marketing in 2014 making it something that is obviously held in high regard for many companies.
What We Know About Spam
There is a big problem with email and we all know that nobody likes it. As marketers we don’t want to contribute to the junk email that goes into our contacts’ inboxes but at the same time we want our messages to get through to those who opt in.
Currently there are something like 94 billion spam messages going out every day making up 78 percent of email. Most of the email programs we have try to address these spam issues and will automatically add suspect emails to these folders or provide us with the ability to add them manually. Google’s email program, Gmail, even went so far as to automatically segment emails that meet certain criteria into tabs that are supposed to make them easier to manage. However, Gmail tabs have had a profound effect on email opens and some estimates say that the tabs have resulted in a 1.5 percent decline in email open rates.
How Marketers can Make an Impact with Email Marketing
Today’s marketers have to use the resources available to them to craft better messages and to focus on the consumer point of view. To do this we look at the 4 P’s of marketing (the new 4 P’s that is!):
This “P” means you are letting your readers read your emails wherever they may be. Desktop is not the only place where consumers are looking at emails so we have to make our messages consistently readable across all devices. When keeping the mobile users in mind it makes sense to design emails that have nice single column layouts, make good use of images, use larger fonts, and provide clear, concise messages because people are always on the go.
Like responsive website design responsive design works well with email formats too. Use an email testing and tracking tool like litmus to ensure that your emails look good across every email client and every device.
Most email messages are not intended to initiate a direct response to the email sender but this doesn’t mean that your brand can’t entice some kind of engagement. When you send out emails you should always include links to your social media channels so that your recipients can participate in your message.
Conversely, you can also advertise your email address on your social media channels to create opt-in opportunities for your fans. Events, newsletters, guides, promotions, coupons and special offers are all email opportunities where you can let your social media followers know they can opt-in to stay involved with your company.
You have ever received an email from a brand that included your name in the subject line or message body? This makes the message a bit more personal and makes the reader feel less like they were involved in some chain that went out to 15,000 other people.
Names are not the only way to personalize emails though; consider segmenting your email messages to people based on the area of your website they opted-in. For example, segment your individual messages to the following types of people:
- Those who signed up for a demo, RSS feed, or other non-monetary engagement
- Those who downloaded something, joined a webinar, or expressed interest in your products/services
- Those who are regular customers or have recently made a purchase
- Those who were customers but have not been active for a while
These types of email lists do, of course, require data on where your leads originated from. More advanced lead management software programs should help you to segment these email accounts into the appropriate tiers based on their stage in the buying cycle. Software like Strongview, janrain and FullContact are just a few of the many programs you can look into for help with segmentation.
Other areas to segment messaging include:
- Time of day
The final “P” we think marketers should consider is Prescriptive. In this approach marketers let their consumers tell them what types of content they are most interested in or offer different types of content that they can subscribe to. You’ve probably seen email opt-in opportunities that ask subscribers about their interests, the level of email interaction they’d like (frequency), or how they can unsubscribe.
These email strategies put the consumer in control and make them less likely to view your emails as spam and more likely to view them with interest.
Email Strategies for Today
The above trends, tools and tips will help make your brand much more effective at connecting and engaging with your contacts via email. If you take a closer look at the emails that you are getting now you’ll notice some of the brands that pull off these strategies effectively and those that annoy their customers and fully deserve to be placed in the spam folder.
If you try these and still think email marketing is dead then explain that to the 88 percent of marketers that still use email as an ongoing marketing channel. Or maybe you should just consider that email marketing is like a zombie: the living dead.