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5 rules for the new era of email marketing

5 rules for the new era of email marketing Brigitte Donner

Even amid the explosion of digital marketing technologies over the past few years, marketers keep returning to email. The reason is clear -- for the 10th consecutive year, email is the highest ROI-generating channel for marketers. For every $1 invested, email marketing returns $38. It's 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook and Twitter combined.

That said, email marketing today is far different than it was in 1995 when everyone was using AOL and Gmail was just a sparkle in two young engineers' eyes. Modern marketers looking to engage customers, differentiate their brand, and grow their businesses need to live and breathe these five new rules of email marketing.

Long live the DIY marketer

The rule goes something like this: first technology makes things possible, then it makes things easy. We've hit that point in the marketing technology continuum. Sophisticated technology processes that were once left to the IT professionals are now possible for every marketer in any business or industry. Companies like Optimizely, Squarespace, Unbounce, and Shopify are leading the DIY marketing revolution. Complex tasks that used to take weeks (or even months) and an entire IT staff to accomplish can now be done in minutes. Marketers now own their destiny -- and that means there's no excuse for any marketing communications, including email, to be off-brand or off-message.

There's no one inbox to rule them all

Mobile is at the center of the zeitgeist, but this trend is just a part of the bigger story, in which online audiences are constantly moving between devices. Forty percent of online adults will begin an activity on one device and finish on another, and 53 percent of emails are now opened on mobile devices. Marketers need to adapt to this reality by using templates that automatically optimize for hundreds of desktop, mobile, and tablet email clients. Every email needs to look just as good in Apple mail as it does in Outlook 2003, Gmail on Android, or the latest mail app. Mobile-ready design is no longer a nice-to-have, it's a must-have.

Personalization and relevancy are king

If your emails aren't relevant to your subscribers, they'll end up in the trash. Consumers are 26 percent more likely to open emails with personalized subject lines and marketers have found a 760 percent increase in email revenue from segmented campaigns. Successful personalization strategies have three components:

  • Segmentation: Efficiently group customers by browsing patterns, purchases, and browsing activity. From this information, it's possible to tailor email messaging to specific groups.

  • Dynamic content: Email blasts with one-size-fits-all messages just don't work.┬áSeventy-four percent of online consumers get frustrated with websites when content appear to have nothing to do with their interests. That's why 75 percent of enterprises will invest in personalized messaging in 2015.

  • Automation: As businesses grow, it becomes increasingly difficult to give attention to each customer. With email automation, marketers can easily create workflows to send personalized, relevant emails (or series of emails) to individual customers at the right time.

Quantify marketing ROI or bust

An overwhelming 94 percent of marketers are investing in data and analytics capabilities to identify customer information for targeted insights. The modern email marketer is tasked with using data to reach subscribers -- testing and optimizing subject lines, button sizes, images, links, messages, and tactics to make each campaign better than the last. Every audience is different, so you must test to know what works.

Email marketers must be able to deliver concrete ROI in the form of leads, monetization, and revenue. Armed with insight into what subscribers care about and which CTAs are driving engagement, marketers are better positioned to drive conversions and improve campaign performance over the long and short term.

Marketers need to control transactional emails

Customers expect a consistent experience no matter how they interact with a business, but most businesses regularly send emails that their marketing departments never see -- and they're missing a huge opportunity as a result. Transactional emails are automated messages triggered by some sort of action or inaction -- think purchase receipts, confirmations, shipping notifications, and password resets. Open rates for transactional emails are 4x higher than traditional emails because customers are usually asking for the information contained in them.

Traditionally these emails are coded by developers and are stuck in source code. But marketers who want every customer email to be on-brand, personal and engaging are looking at transactional emails as an opportunity to build brand loyalty and drive revenue.

Marketers have come to embody many roles: DIY artist, brand ambassador, data scientist and communicator extraordinaire, among others. In this new and ever-evolving role, marketers are responsible for over delivering on customer expectations and proving that those efforts drove immediate revenue. It's a new era, and one in which email marketing is more powerful than ever before.

Brigitte Donner is the senior director of product marketing at Campaign Monitor.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia at @iMediaTweet.

Brigitte is an energetic and passionate marketer that has spent more than a decade developing and executing go-to-market strategies. As VP of product marketing at Campaign Monitor, Brigitte creates compelling narratives and customer success stories...

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Commenter: Pia Hansen

2020, May 04

Good article, learned a lot, thanks.