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I’ve spent a lot of time since 2009 advising clients on email strategy and implementation, but less on actual implementation.
I was starting to miss the fun of creating campaigns, hitting the send button and watching the results. That changed when I decided to launch a new UK crowdfunding startup, with some close friends.
As Head of Digital, I’ve had to get back into the detail of email marketing and think beyond the strategy. This blog shares my experience on what makes for good email marketing in terms of process and strategy components.
I hope you find it useful reading.
Email has come a long way in the last couple of years with automation, optimisation and big data all being appended to the humble ole email. But where does this leave email marketers?
What should we be automating and why? Are campaign emails dead? Is it just easier to batch and blast?
In this piece I will look at two major objectives for marketing email and discuss what is automated and what is not.
Oh and don’t worry, I’ll mention big data too!
Because I’m a sucker for punishment, two weeks ago I signed up nine different travel websites in order to see how each company uses email marketing.
Here are the sites I chose: Easyjet, Ryanair, Thomas Cook, Secret Escapes, Voyage Prive, Expedia, Mr & Mrs Smith, The Weekenders and Skyscanner.
I’ll be looking at the frequency of emails, the use of subject lines, the email content itself, special offers, editorial voice, personalisation, relevance… All of the many tools that a company can utilise to coerce the recipient to open up an email or even engage with it.
Will this be the equivalent of leaving a skylight open during a storm, or your front door open during a riot?
Let’s take a look at my inbox, to see how it looks right now, two weeks after sign up. Please note, in a rare moment of sensible thinking, I set up a different email address to do this.
Email remains one of the most effective tools in the digital marketing toolbox, with the potential to deliver a great return on investment.
Data taken from the Econsultancy Email Marketing Census 2014 shows that 68% of companies rate the channel as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ for ROI.
One of the most important aspects of email design is an effective call-to-action, as it needs to inspire recipients into engaging further with your brand.
We’ve previously written about CTA design in regards to ecommerce sites, and many of the same rules apply, but I thought it would be useful to reiterate some of the more important criteria as well as pulling together some good and bad examples.
For more information on this topic, read our posts looking at how agile creative can improve email marketing and highlighting case studies that investigate where to place your CTA to maximise conversions...
It’s human nature to be curious of what your neighbours are up to, as we all like to keep up with the Joneses.
And this same basic desire is what makes industry benchmarks so valuable, as there’s no point trumpeting your 18% email open rate if your competitors are all achieving closer to 30%.
A new email report from Silverpop gives a useful insight in this regard, as it offers benchmark data from nearly 3,000 brands from 40 countries.
Read on to find out how you measure up in terms of open and click rates, or for more information on this topic download Econsultancy’s Email Marketing Industry Census Report 2014.
Agile email creative is the formatting of images not before send, or at send (with automated or dynamic content) but at the moment the customer opens or re-opens an email.
This allows one to change pictures in an email depending on a host of variables, on their own or combined, in a rules-based system.
A lot of what this agile creative can achieve boils down to improving the user journey when they open an email. So, for example, an image can present latest availability of a product, so that when the customer clicks through from a product image, she isn’t surprised by lack of stock and doesn’t subsequently distrust brand comms.
I’ve previously talked to Movable Ink, a specialist in simplified email build and agile email creative (see this post for an overview and some great comments). Recently I also spoke to Matt Hayes of Kickdynamic, another agile email specialist.
We discussed the possibilities of the technology and how, although not a complex premise, agile email is enlivening the channel whilst increasing conversion rates from email marketing.
In this post I thought I’d detail some more examples of agile email creative and discuss what benefits they hold.
It seems like the staple diet of a digital marketing blogger is to declare something dead, or not dead, or cleverly D.E.A.D.
Only this week, our David Moth wrote a piece on email marketing’s rude health (email is not dead).
I think the reason we’re obsessed with the death of marketing technology is because, despite the pace of change in digital, there are many age-old marketing principles that remain absolute.
Relevance, timeliness, perhaps more broadly the four, five or seven Ps – these will ever remain in the marketing canon.
And, of course, no matter how sophisticated technology becomes, there will still exist businesses that don’t get the marketing mix right.
However, despite all this, I am interested in areas of marketing that might undergo automation and sophistication to the point where they require little work.
What I foresee is the perfection of certain disciplines (e.g. marketing automation) throwing light on new priorities, such as a renewed interest in conversion rate optimisation or data cleanliness.
With marketing as a department more powerful than ever, why would the amount of work decrease? Surely we’re sticking our elbows out, and our oars into every part of the org?
So, what about email segmentation? Will there be a time when it’s no longer a core skill, something to be done actively by marketers? Will technology take care of it for us?
As marketers spread themselves ever more thinly across multiple channels and platforms, time becomes an even more precious commodity.
Over half of all marketers report to having responsibilities in seven out of 10 other areas of marketing, from offline display to owned media.
However it’s the email marketers who seem to suffer the most.
Marketing is becoming increasingly multichannel and relationship focused. Email is the glue that pulls together all of these different disciplines, tactics and partners, as well as being a direct channel to the customer.
The Email Marketing Speed Imperative study, published by Econsultancy in partnership with dotMailer, looks at how the ease of use of a specific email marketing tool affects the daily practice of email and what impact this has on the bottom line.
Having recently published an article about why email isn’t dead, I thought it would be useful to roundup some case studies to help marketers inject some life into their own campaigns.
Hopefully they should provide some inspiration for marketers who are in the process of testing their own email messages.
Email and SEO must feel quite victimised within the marketing world, as people are always proclaiming them to be deceased.
While it’s true that consumer apathy, spam filters, increasing competition and changes to the Gmail inbox are making things more difficult for brands, it is clearly nonsense to suggest that email marketing is on the way out.
So to fight back against the haters, here are five reasons why email is clearly alive and well.
Here is a selection of some of the finest digital marketing stats we’ve seen this week.
It includes the online travel sector, digital in Southeast Asia, email marketing, Pinterest, real-time video, and conversion rates from across the UK.
And for more of the same, download Econsultancy’s Internet Marketing Statistics Compendium...
‘Win-back’ email campaigns can be effective in encouraging engagement from lapsed customers, according to a new report.
Win-back emails are those that try to rekindle relationships with recipients that haven’t opened a brand’s marketing messages for a sustained period of time.
Personally I can’t recall ever having received an email from a brand that was specifically trying to ‘reactivate’ me, and the Return Path report does concede that win-back campaigns aren’t all that common.
In fact Return Path could only identify 33 retailers that implemented win-back campaigns between 1 April 2013 and 31 January 2014.
However there are certainly benefits to running this type of email campaigns, not least that it helps to maintain a clean email list.