Last year we published an article on the future of email marketing. In it, we laid out 6 tips to start planning for your email marketing in 2012. Now that 2012 it behind us, we thought it would be helpful to do a little review and update for 2013.
Let’s start with some strategy…
Integrate Social Media
What We Said in 2012: Social media is here to stay and is only going to grow. Integrate social media into your email marketing by posting emails to your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Invite email readers to become members of your social networks and give them the opportunity to share your email with their social networks. Swiftpage Connect Social Sharing allows you to add social media links in your email footer that encourage your readers to post your email to their social networks.
Update: Social media is growing even more in 2013. In 2012 we saw content become more visual and the trend is expect to really explode in 2013. Instead of just sharing articles and links, include photos, infographics and videos. Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram confirmed the growing emphasis on visual content. Your emails should also be more visually pleasing in order to increase the desire for your readers to share the content.
Let Out Your Personality
What We Said in 2012: The socialization of media has left readers desiring humanness in your communications. They are growing tired of the corporate speak and want to know more about the team running the business. Email Insider says, “Add more personality and ‘voice’ to your messages, such as content by employees, subscribers, customers or other stakeholders.” As you are writing your email and social communications, do a personality check. What kind of person are you representing to your audience with your content and is it who they want to hear from?
Update: Brand personality will remain important in 2013. Along with brand personality, email recipients are expecting more and more personalization. Go beyond using first names and look for ways to tailor emails to their purchase history, preferences and past response to your emails. Use the data you have to your advantage as you personalize your emails.
Rethink Your Segmentation
What We Said in 2012: Most of us segment our lists based on geography, age, gender, psychosocial factors, etc. Forrester research found that the leaders in segmentation effectiveness take it a few steps further. They use a customer value metric such as Lifetime Customer Value, integrate marketing well across traditional marketing platforms as well as digital marketing platforms, and use customer engagement as the main factor that impacts customer communication. We can all take a look at how our customers engage with our emails and social media and tailor our communications in that direction. Find answers to questions such as: What pages on your website are visited the most often? Which product emails generated the highest open rate? or What posts were the most talked about on Facebook and by what type of customer? Tailor your email and social communications based on your discoveries about your customer’s engagement.
Update: Segmentation is absolutely necessary for continued email marketing success. 69% of subscribers say that too many emails is the number reason they unsubscribe from email. Source Using segmentation you can send fewer, more relevant emails to each of your contact groups instead of blasting the whole list with every email.
Now that we’ve talked strategy, let’s talk design.
Give it a Quick Once Over
What We Said in 2012: A moment of truth: Your recipients are not reading your entire email. In fact, ClickZ found that 60% of email readers only see about 50% of the message. Other studies have shown that people simply scan emails for items that pique their interest. Design your emails with the most pertinent information and call to action near the top. Use blocks of color, images, bullets, and bold text to help draw your reader’s eye where you want it to go.
Update: Email inboxes are only getting more full in 2013. Emails with clear messages, obvious calls to action and that can be easily scanned will win the day. Including offers in your emails will help as well. 75% of people prefer to receive offers over any other form of call-to-action. Source
The New Mouse
What We Said in 2012: Many marketers are calling 2012 the “Year of Mobile.” Smart phones and tablets are quickly changing the email landscape and fingers have replaced the mouse. Take a look at your email template and give it the “fat finger” test. When sent to a mobile device, are all of the links easily clickable with a large finger? Is there enough white space and line spacing to easily navigate through the email? Litmus offers a great infographic with additional mobile email considerations. It may be time to redesign your email template with mobile in mind.
Update: 2012 earned its name as “The Year of Mobile.” In fact, Apple has now sold more iPhones than the total number of computers it has sold… ever. Mobile is on its way to becoming the new normal and our emails need to continue to morph to meet the demands of the mobile medium. Here are some ways you can make your email more mobile friendly >
To Open or Not to Open
What We Said in 2012: Most email clients give their users a sneak peek at the interior of the email via the preview pane. Typically the preview pane reveals the top section or the top left section of the email and will not show images. MarketingSherpa found that only 33% of email readers have images turned on by default in their email client. All of the above tells us that we need to give our readers a reason to open our email in full using subject line and the top section of our emails without relying on images. Carefully review your templates to see if you have enticing text sections in the preview area of the email. Images are still important, but we can’t rely on them as the main attraction. If you are using an HTML email, take advantage of the alternative text to communicate your message when images are turned off.
Update: Yes, we said,”we can’t rely on images as the main attraction,” and then told you above how important content visualization is. Both are still true. We can’t assume our images will be seen, but when they are they should wow. Continue to focus on encouraging readers to open emails with compelling subject lines, use of ALT text on images in HTML emails and obvious calls to action.
So there you have it. Our update on the future of email marketing for 2013. Email marketing still continues to provide incredible ROI for your marketing budget. Make use of the ideas above to maximize your ROI.
What are your thoughts? Anything you would add to the list?