The new year is fewer than three weeks away, but it's not too early to predict the trends that will shape email marketing in 2013 and beyond.
(How well did my predictions for 2012 hold up? You can review my accuracy in my previous ClickZ column.)
My outlook remains positive. Email is still evolving despite continuing claims that the channel is dead or dying.
The email channel is thriving, as you can see in these two statistics:
Below are my predictions for 2013, along with my recommendations for keeping your email program relevant as digital marketing evolves.
Mobile Optimization Becomes Essential
Consider these two sets of statistics about mobile phone users and their email use:
In 2013, the majority of your subscribers will open your email on a smartphone. Thus, "mobile-friendly" scalable templates will no longer be enough. You will need to rebuild your templates to account for responsive design.
Responsive email design is the only truly mobile-first strategy. A responsive email design allows you to auto-adjust the layout, content, and text size of an email to tailor it to a specific screen size. You can play with images, too: swap them out for different recipients; shift, disable, and resize them and change their colors.
CSS3 "@media" tags tell the email client how to render two different layouts. Which layout displays depends on the screen size of the device opening the email.
Econsultancy reports that 63 percent of Americans and 41 percent of Europeans would close or delete an email not optimized for mobile. Therefore, if you fail to address your customers' mobile-reading habits, your emails will be relegated to the digital circular file.
Delivering Relevant Content Remains Key
More stats for you, this time from Return Path's November 2012 Email Intelligence Report:
These statistics, if nothing else, should persuade you that the days of "batch and blast" and "email and they will buy" are over.
You must offer a regular stream of highly relevant content to your subscribers if you want to stay in their inboxes and keep your email program effective.
Start tracking behavioral traits, such as clicks in the email, browsing on the website, or discussing with the sales representative. Use this data to segment your list and drive follow-up messaging.
Using "in-market" data can yield three to five times the return in revenue per email over traditional broadcast messages. Consider these tactics:
Rethink How You Design Email Campaigns
A triggered email program is a critical tactic in an email marketer's playbook, but in 2013, you'll need to take an extra step to make your triggered automations go multi-channel.
A timely SMS message, mobile application push notification, or additional frequency from targeted display ads can drive lift over an email-only program.
Rethink your trigger campaigns to determine where multi-channel touch points can be most valuable. For example, SMS is great at driving a sense of urgency through a last-minute reminder, while targeted display excels at reinforcing value while customers are considering their purchases.
In 2013, you should develop a comprehensive, multi-channel, triggered digital marketing program that boosts the overall response from subscribers.
The Last Word
Here are my predictions in a nutshell:
The benefit is a strong and nimble email program that generates more revenue for your organization.
Inbox image on home page via Shutterstock.
Meet Your Favorite ClickZ Contributors
Many of ClickZ's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Jeremy Hull, Lisa Raehsler, Andrew Goodman, Bryan Eisenberg, Mathew Sweezey, Aaron Kahlow, Stephanie Miller, Simms Jenkins, Jeanne S. Jennings, Dave Hendricks and more!
Mike Hotz is a senior strategic consultant for Responsys, working with clients to design, develop, and execute cross-channel digital marketing strategies that contribute to their cross-channel digital marketing success. As an industry veteran, Mike has worked in e-mail marketing since 1998, designing, building, and executing e-mail and multichannel direct marketing strategies focusing on increasing customer engagement, nurturing leads, supporting sales organizations, and driving revenue for companies such as CDW, OfficeMax, Grant Thornton, and Digitalwork.com.
March 19, 2014