There’s a perception amongst some people that email marketing is old-fashioned. After all, the ability to send marketing emails is older than half of the people in the industry.
But the truth is that email marketing is just as relevant as ever. After all, apart from websites, email marketing drives the highest ROI and, as recently as 2015, there was a 3800% ROI for email marketing.
The good thing about email marketing is that it allows you to communicate with people on a one-to-one basis. Thanks to segmentation and marketing automation, marketers can send emails out to specific types of customers with relevant, personalized information, and they’ll arrive and display well on whatever device they’re using.
Here are just a few of the trends that are shaping email marketing in 2018.
Trend #1: Cross-Channel Tracking and Targeting
Today’s consumers are using all sorts of different devices, and that can make it difficult for marketers to track their behavior. After all, if they click a link in an email from their mobile device and then later look it up from their computer before making the actual purchase on a tablet, how does that get attributed? Will your analytics be able to tell that it was the same person each time? And what if two people share the same device?
Analytical and tracking tools are getting better and better, and the best marketers are able to bring data together from disparate sources. But this tracking is only useful if you’re able to act on it. That’s why more and more email marketing vendors will allow users to set up advanced targeting and automation rules based upon the ability to track email subscribers across any touchpoint and device.
Trend #2: Increased Regulation
Regulation has always been a big issue for email marketers, and there are already strict requirements that can lead to a hefty fine from the FTC if you fail to adhere to them. But in 2017, thanks to the unstable state of global politics and the ever-increasing focus on online privacy, we’ll continue to see attempts to launch new regulations.
One of the best ways to cover yourself is to use double opt-ins. That way, while you may receive fewer overall sign-ups, at least you know that you’re only communicating with the people who really want to hear from you.
The regulation doesn’t have to be the enemy, though. It’s usually designed with consumers in mind, which means that as long as you put your customers’ needs first, you’ll be fine. Give them as much choice as possible about what data you keep and how you use it.
Trend #3: Better Sign-Up Calls-To-Action
For years, marketers have pushed ‘sign up to our newsletter’ as a call-to-action, but the unfortunate truth is that nobody really cares about your newsletter. In fact, the traditional newsletter is dead, and the ability to add personalization and to take advantage of big data means that the old-school ‘broadcast’ email is no longer relevant.
Many marketers have already shifted towards using segmentation, automation, and personalization to make their emails as relevant and as bespoke as possible. This shift will continue, and the calls-to-action will change as a result of it.
Ultimately, people no longer want to receive generic newsletters. Instead, your calls-to-action should be more tailored, promising to provide something of value in exchange for visitors’ contact information.
Trend #4: The Rise of Dialogues
Most marketers don’t think of email marketing as a two-way dialogue, but the truth is that it’s an excellent tool for building relationships with customers. At its most basic level, they can reply to your emails with their thoughts and feedback, but you can also set up structured campaigns that link people to live chat widgets, surveys and other tools.
This is good for users because they can solve customer service issues or make suggestions for new products in a way that’s quick and convenient. But it’s also good news for marketers because they can engage with their customers over time, using their valuable feedback to improve their product or service while pushing people further down the sales funnel.
Remember that 55% of consumers would pay more for a better customer experience, and that engaged customers tend to spend more with your business. So why not use email for customer engagement?
Trend #5: Shrinking Emails
It’s no secret that the explosive growth in mobile and tablet usage is having a knock-on effect in the way that marketing is carried out. For email marketers, the most obvious change is the push to reduce the sizes of emails to cater to mobile users who are checking their messages on the go.
As of 2016, the optimal length for emails was between 50 and 125 words. Any longer and people flick past them, and if they’re shorter then there’s not enough content to add any value. But it’s not just the word count that’s shrinking – after all, it’s the images and the code that bulk out the file size and make them take longer to load on 3G connections.
In 2017 and beyond, email lengths and file sizes are likely to decrease in line with a greater focus on super relevant bite-sized content. It’s up to marketers to change their approach to meet consumer demands.
Despite its age, there’s plenty of life left in email marketing. The best marketers realize that it’s still one of the most powerful tools available, especially because their email lists are owned – instead of rented like their followings on third-party social networking sites.
The current trend is for marketers to send out more emails overall but to send them out in small batches, tailoring them to specific types of user and timing them so that they’re as relevant as possible to their subscribers.
Changing legislation over the years is likely to change the way that email marketing can be carried out, but there’s no doubt about it – it’s a powerful tool, and it’s here to stay for the foreseeable future. You’d better get used to it.