Although many have said email is dying, there are just as many who insist it's here to stay. Here are four ways you can keep your email marketing campaigns fresh and effective.
For some time now a nasty rumor that email is dying has been making the rounds online. The co-founder of Facebook, more recently the co-founder of Web and mobile app Asana, has said email is a "distraction" that gets in the way of real work. University students, we're told, prefer to communicate through Twitter than to deal with the likes of email. "We have a round-the-clock team of press officers and graduates savvy with social media," said the vice-chancellor of the University of Exeter in the U.K. "Students will tweet for help if something has gone wrong."
If email as a communications platform is dying, digital marketers should no longer bother to invest in email campaigns. Right?
As it turns out, for every person or publication heralding the end of email there's another reporting the email is here to stay. Last month, eMarketer called called email "vitally important" and "arguably more valued by B2B marketers now more than ever before." Earlier this year, the results of a Harris Interactive survey revealed that 82 percent of U.S. consumers were somewhat to extremely willing to receive more promotional emails if the messages were personalized and relevant to their interests.
Recently, Adobe released the Adobe Campaign Guide to Email Marketing: The Next Frontier in which it explores email marketing opportunities and trends. Adobe argues that not only is email alive and kicking, but it's undergoing a remarkable transformation. Personalization, retargeting, and altering messages in real-time are all strategies worthy of a closer look.
According to Patrick Tripp, senior product marketing manager, Adobe Campaign, email is still "the workhorse of the commercial communications space." Even though they have Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter at their disposal, and are living a decidedly mobile-first lifestyle, consumers rely on email, too. Marketers just need to consider their behavior and expectations when determining how best to reach them.
Consumers, the report notes, open 61 percent of emails on mobile devices. Eighty percent will delete emails that "don't look good." As such, marketers must ensure that their messages are optimized for every viewing scenario. Using responsive design to improve the email experience can increase open rates by 15 to 17 percent, and click-through rates by up to 24 percent.
Another useful strategy is retargeting. "It's about using marketing to trigger a response," says Tripp. "Seeing that someone has taken an action in their shopping cart and abandoned it, and then reengaging that customer." Tripp notes that customers abandon about $4 trillion in merchandise each year, and that 63 percent of that could be reclaimed with the help of remarketing.
It all comes back to the data. Traditional email solutions have struggled to manage data over time, but it's critical to creating the personalized offers consumers want to receive - offers based on such factors as purchase history and brand affinity. Data is also being used to change the experience of receiving an email offer, and doing it in real time. Even after an email has been delivered, marketers can alter the nature of the offer based on new information about online purchases that have occurred. Content can be updated to reflect anything from the day of the week to the weather. The ability to make emails more dynamic gives brands a chance to deliver a more relevant user experience.
Content, Tripp says, is another "big angle;'" as marketers ramp up their spending on digital content, they'll need to reuse and replicate content across multiple channels, and leveraging existing content in different ways. "This has been a big divide for marketers in the past," he says. "Content creators often live in silos, but this will change."
Consumer behavior is changing, but staying abreast of trends both in email usage and marketing technology can keep email marketing alive and well.
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Tessa Wegert is a business reporter and former media strategist specializing in digital. In addition to writing for ClickZ since 2002, she has contributed to such publications as USA Today, Marketing Magazine, Mashable, and The Globe and Mail. Tessa manages marketing and communications for Enlighten, one of the first full-service digital marketing strategy agencies servicing such brands as Bioré, Food Network, illy, and Hunter Douglas. She has been working in online media since 1999.
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