The world of marketing technology is huge and growing every day. Some 3,500 vendors offering 4,000 products and services provide myriad ways to engage consumer, including innovative VR tech, wearables, analytics systems, messaging apps and more. These emerging channels and tools are often unproven, but some may hold the potential to revolutionize marketing and drive remarkable amounts of business. As flashy, exotic new tech is released on a weekly basis, it’s important for digital marketing leaders to keep an eye on a much less trendy but no less valuable channel—email.
Even after two decades as a staple in the marketer’s playbook, email continues to provide one of the highest levels of consistent ROI out of all digital channels for companies who are are able to keep their strategy sharp and maintain a stable of strong email marketing talent. Every year it seems that industry experts are ready to declare email “dead.” Yet 73% of marketers report good or excellent ROI from their email campaigns, leading all other digital channels. Well-organized email-marketing can deliver an astounding 4,300% ROI, according to the Direct Marketing Association.
The reality is; today’s consumers don’t dislike email–they just hate unsolicited, irrelevant, poorly timed messages. However, valuable and personalized content delivered at the right place and the right time is still well-received and an excellent way to engage current and potential customers.
If your email marketing ROI has been declining over the years, it’s probably not because the channel is becoming obsolete, but because your strategy hasn’t evolved to keep up with the way consumers interact with it. Too many businesses treat the channel as a “set-it-and-forget-it” tool, using the same infrastructure, messaging and strategy today that they were 15 years ago when they first adopted email as a significant marketing tactic. Others thrust the keys to their email kingdom in the hands of an agency and wash their hands of the responsibility, losing personal control over it and any ability to integrate email into a larger strategy.
Today’s consumers don’t dislike email–they just hate unsolicited, irrelevant, poorly timed messages.
Whether you’re a B2B or B2C operation, there are some key trends happening in email that are separating the good from the great when it comes to wringing full value out of this established channel; and if you’re not ready to catch up to them, it’s probably time to consider an email marketing consultant.
Keeping Open Rates Up
A colossal amount of research has been done on optimizing open rates to maximize the proportion of your audience who opens your emails and gets exposed to your message. If you’re not taking advantage of it, you’re missing out.
Sometimes the best strategies aren’t what you’d think. For instance, ContactMonkey reports that perhaps the single best subject line for open rates is a short chain of characters:
Of course, that may not be true for your specific audience. But if you’re not testing out-of-the-box ideas, you’re probably missing out on some surprising ROI opportunities.
Image modified from ContactMonkey
Personalization and Relevance
Sophisticated email marketing programs are able to start highly-relevant 1-on-one conversations with your audience by providing them with a customized email experience that responds to what they’re doing. Copy and content can and should be adjusted based on what you know about your customer base: their interests, their history with your brand, the CTAs they favor, their name and demographic information. Furthermore, campaigns can be crafted to respond to shifts in lifestyle, geographic location and buying habits.
Effective personalization is what separates modern email marketing between effective communication and spam. But achieving it is hard work–personalization requires meticulous data gathering and translation (perhaps through marketing analytics staffing) and a strong but flexible automation foundation for efficient deployment.
When a new piece of consumer hardware is introduced, email is often one of the first channels that has fully-functioning apps available for it. Most consumers will now notice emails first on their mobile device, making instant decisions wherever they are as to whether your message should be opened and considered or overlooked and ignored. And non-PC email reading is quickly moving beyond just mobile phones and tablets to smart TV’s, wearable technology, gaming devices and more.
Trends in Action: What Marketers Need to Know about Wearables and Email
The growing number of devices capable of opening an email poses a great challenge to businesses: how can you format and package message that is equally as engaging and compelling whether it’s read on a brand new Apple Watch, an aging work-issued PC, or an Android smartphone? There’s no simple solution, and it will take talented creatives partnering alongside tech-savvy programmers to continue to deliver results in a fragmenting tech landscape.
Even well-optimized, responsive and engaging email campaigns often lose potential value because they’re not deployed as part of a larger, more cohesive strategy with the rest of your digital operations. Email teams are too often siloed off from the rest of marketing as a self-sufficient group, when in reality they should be collaborating closely with the entire organization. Content, social, advertising, PR, brand and more can all heavily influence the effectiveness of an email strategy–and vice-versa. Everyone benefits when all operations are operating in concert with a consistent message and customer experience. Struggling to get all your teams pointed in the same direction? It might be time for an omnichannel marketing executive search to find the leadership you need to unify your digital teams.
Compliance, Ethics, and Consumer Expectations
The bar is being raised across the board for email communications from businesses. Stricter spam legislation mean you need to think carefully about what you say and how you say it. Major email service providers have gotten extremely good at filtering low-value emails out of inboxes. And consumers won’t hesitate to unsubscribe or report your emails if you’re not delivering what they expected. If your email strategy hasn’t been revisited in some time, it’s very possible that you’re toeing the line of the regulations and best practices that dictate legal, ethical, effective email marketing.