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There is no denying email marketing continues to be the most popular form of business communication out there. And for good reason. Businesses who utilize email marketing are seeing huge returns! Email campaigns average an ROI of 38:1 (DMA National Client Email Report 2015).

Today on average we receive an extra 13 emails per day than in 2011. And by 2018, an estimated 97 emails will hit inboxes each day, at an average of 12 emails every working hour. In order to get your piece of the pie and stand out in the crowd, it is imperative to stay informed on the latest trends in this thriving arena.

Instead of a bulk email blast to unsuspecting readers, build an opt-in list.

The first step to creating a successful email campaign is building out your email list. Using gated content is a great way to collect visitor information, get insight on topics that interest them (which will help with segmenting) and it gives your audience something of value such as a whitepaper or thought leadership.

Instead of traditional broadcast emails, set up email automation.

Continuing in 2017, the smartest campaigns will include automated emails. These communications are triggered when a visitor takes a specified action on your website – catching engaged people at the right moment and encouraging further interaction. Due to their success (119% higher click rates than broadcast emails), more and more companies are replacing their typical newsletter and lead nurture emails with this type of automation. Not only do they save budget, but you are also offering your audience timely, relevant information. The end result is higher engagement rates with your email and on your website which in turn drives business.

Instead of a generic message, make it personal.

If you think ‘Dear %%FirstName%%,’ checks the box for personalization, guess again. Now more than ever, it is vital to know your audience well enough to segment them by interest, location, or even time of day they are most likely to respond. While analyzing this data may take more time up front, the payoff is substantial. According to Campaign Monitor, marketers have noted a 760% increase in revenue from segmented campaigns. A dynamic email that tailors content by segment helps to show your audience that you understand their needs or pain points and know how to help.

Golden rules of email marketing

Instead of a sales-centered email, keep it casual.

Email should be a 1:1 communication with the recipient. By maintaining a more laid back narrative, you can begin to have a more conversational exchange with your audience. Asking questions that encourage customers to respond and relate will lead to a more personal connection to you and your brand. Part of being personal is also doing away with ‘no-reply’ email addresses. By allowing your readers to reply, it opens the door to conversations you might not otherwise achieve.

Instead of adapting an email to mobile, consider mobile first.

According to Litmus, mobile has officially surpassed desktop as users’ choice for email viewing. 55% of emails are now being opened on mobile devices. This means it’s time to shift our thinking to focus on mobile first. Keep in mind, iPhones will cut off a subject line over 32 characters (Harland Clarke Digital) so concentrate on putting the most important words of your subject line first. In addition to subject lines, overall email length needs to be reexamined. The sweet spot will be 50-125 words for optimal effect on a smartphone.  Something else to keep in mind are email previews on wearable devices.

Aside from design, mobile affects the readers’ entire viewing experience. Thinking about your own day-to-day, when do you check email on your phone? First thing in the morning before you start the day? This would be an excellent opportunity for A|B testing. You may discover that normal business hours do not yield the highest response. As you begin to create campaigns that are more mobile centric, think about developing metrics and KPIs specifically for mobile. It will be important to know not just did your audience consume information, but how?

Instead of a lifeless email, consider interactive elements.

To stand out in a bustling inbox, consider investing in your email campaigns in order to include some premium elements. By including animation, surveys, polls and clickable content, you not only grab attention but reduce barriers to engagement. You can keep your emails short and include pertinent information by encouraging your reader to click  through to your website to engage and explore. The result is an email that’s easy to scan and encourages user engagement.

Instead of a static message, experiment with video and animation.

When Apple released iOS 10, it included support for HTML5 in the email app. This opens the door to the use of video to support your email messages and engage your audience. Considering more than half of your emails are likely read on an HTML5-friendly device, (according to Litmus, as of November 2016, 53% of emails were opened in Apple email apps) this advancement is worth exploring and investing in. Keep in mind that it is important to have a fall back (such as a static image with a play button that links out) for subscribers with email clients that don’t support HTML5 video. Include custom click tracking in these campaigns to be able to track not only who clicks the video, but who ends up watching it.

In addition, the use of animation will continue to rise this year. As with video, be sure to consider users checking their email in clients that may not play GIFs, such as Outlook. In this case, they will only see the first frame so be sure that frame is engaging and includes any must-know information.

The key to using either one of these elements is to make sure it helps support your story rather than just distract with a decorative component.

To wrap it up…

With such promising returns, email campaigns will continue to dominate marketing plans for both B2B and B2C companies in 2017. With so much competition in the inbox, your opportunity to grab a recipient’s attention is shrinking. Whether you decide to invest time in segmenting data to create dynamic emails or invest budget in creating an email with interactive elements, it’s time to step up your email game!

Author: Erica Williams

Erica Williams is a Project Manager at Primacy.

Published April 2017

Category Email Marketing