E-mail marketers will need to change their approach to ensure inbox deliverability in the next five years. Here are some ways to begin.
The growth of the e-mail channel -- due to a weakened economy and e-mail's proven high ROI (define) -- makes it more important than ever for companies to invest in their e-mail marketing programs. Within the next five years, e-mail marketers will have to change their strategy and tactics to improve and ensure inbox deliverability.
Forrester Research predicts spending on e-mail marketing will increase to $2 billion by 2014, up from an estimated $1.2 billion this year. The consultancy also predicts consumers will receive more than 9,000 e-mail marketing messages a year by 2014. The increase in marketing spend will be fueled by falling CPMs (define), high ROI, and the growing use of social e-mail accounts.
Content and deliverability are two key elements to any e-mail marketing program. To improve deliverability, marketers must focus on the following: retention e-mails, IP address reputation, segmentation, dynamic content, and social sharing.
Retention e-mails are permission-based e-mail messages sent with the goal of keeping customers. They provide valuable, beneficial, and entertaining information to the reader. Forrester estimates retention e-mails in five years will account for more than one-third of all marketing messages in consumer's inboxes.
The next question: How do you ensure that your message gets to your customers' inboxes? E-mail deliverability is determined by IP reputation. If your e-mail content is pristine and perfect, but send it from an IP address with a bad reputation chances are your messages will never make it to a person's inbox. ISPs will block e-mail based on IP reputation. Even with a dedicated IP and pristine reputation, there is information to suggest that close proximity to an IP address with a poor rep can tarnish those IP addresses around it.
Once you make it into the inbox, you must ensure your messages are relevant. You want your e-mail to be the one the reader is anticipating. Smart marketers use techniques to create the sense of an "insiders club" by providing offers and information only available via the inbox. Making offers exclusive to the e-mail channel can help build anticipation and improve open rates. Using segmentation and dynamic content also increase the value of messages. Remember, less is more. Only provide information relevant to your segmented audience. Too much information will overwhelm readers, causing them to lose interest in your messages.
Increase your e-mail marketing effectiveness by engaging your customer through social sharing. Many new programs link e-mail marketing campaigns with social media campaigns. Sharing information found in newsletters and e-mails by uploading the article to customers' Facebook accounts has started to become more popular than the forward-to-a-friend option. In addition to sharing information with your Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter accounts, new programs are bridging the gap between e-mail and social media. StrongMail is set to release a tool in September that will provide marketers the opportunity to send messages directly into the e-mail boxes of Facebook fans and track the interaction.
It's important for your organization's upper management to realize that the surest way to increased sales and happy customers is a well-run, well-monitored e-mail program. Other programs may get cut, but an investment in e-mail will pay for itself many times over.
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Bill McCloskey is the founder and chief evangelist for Email Data Source, a competitive intelligence resource for e-mail marketers. He was named one of online advertising's 50 most influential people by "Media" magazine and one of the 100 people to know by "BtoB Magazine." He's been a recognized pioneer in interactive advertising for over 10 years.
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