6 Recommendations for Email Marketing Success in 2017

By Kath Pay

2017 is shaping up to be another great year for email marketing. GetResponse, Smartinsights, Content Marketing Institute, and Holistic Email all teamed up to deliver the most robust benchmark study by industry, “Email Marketing & Beyond: Global Industry Benchmarks 2017”.

The good news is 58 percent of marketers are planning to increase their email marketing budgets this year – more than any other channel. That’s a real vote of confidence in the power of email marketing to drive engagement and revenue for your business. But the same report also found that 50.4 percent of marketers don’t use segmentation to make content more relevant.

On top of that, 26.4 percent don’t track email performance through even the simplest of metrics (opens and clicks), and 23.3 percent aren’t rewarded, or focused on any particular metric.Clearly, we have a long way to go before we can realise all the benefits that email can bring. Below are six strategies that will start you down the path toward better email in 2017 and beyond.

Clearly, we have a long way to go before we can realise all the benefits that email can bring. Below are six strategies that will start you down the path toward better email in 2017 and beyond.1. Personalise your way to success.

1. Personalise your way to success. Email is the easiest channel to personalise because we have the technology to do it, the data that drives it and measurement to track its effectiveness.

Email is the easiest channel to personalise because we have the technology to do it, the data that drives it and measurement to track its effectiveness.

Data is the lifeblood of personalisation, and you have more of it than you realise. In fact, you have three kinds:

Explicit data: what people tell you through preferences, qualifying information on lead-generation forms, etc.

Implicit data: What you figure out about your customers and subscribers based on what they do, such as search terms, browsing, purchasing and downloads.

Contextual data: What’s happening where and when your subscribers are viewing your emails: the email client, device or operating system, the day/date/time, even the weather.

For the best results, layer your data levels to uncover specific opportunities you might miss otherwise.

Here’s an example: I tell you in your preference centre that I want email content about designer shoes (explicit data). But my implicit data tell you I buy from the sale racks of your mid-priced lines.

If you ignore either set of data, you lose out, either by not capitalising on what I can buy now or from not being top of mind when the great day comes that I can finally splash out for those Jimmy Choo strappy sandals.

2. Ensure you measure the correct metrics for success.

The GetResponse/Smart Insights study found 73.6 percent of marketers track opens and clicks, which is good. But, these aren’t the best measures of campaign success.

Does management reward for your open and click rates? Probably not. Conversions – sales, downloads, new accounts, reactivations, upselling, etc. – will get you the corner office, the pay raise and bigger budgets.

Many marketers assume that high open rates translate into high conversion. This can be a fatal error in testing, where you might select the subject line that generated the most opens, or even the most clicks, without looking further down the line to conversions.

The metrics you choose should line up squarely with your objectives. If you just want to know that people saw your message, the open or click rate might suffice. More likely though, you’ll track conversions, revenue, average order value (AOV) and potentially even customer lifetime value (CLTV) etc.3. Think CURVE (creativity, urgency, relevance, value and emotion) when crafting your subject lines.

3. Think CURVE (creativity, urgency, relevance, value and emotion) when crafting your subject lines.Why those qualities? Because they tap into the values that make us human. We are curious creatures. We respond to deadlines and to content that reflects who we are and what we value. And, our emotions usually rule.

Why those qualities? Because they tap into the values that make us human. We are curious creatures. We respond to deadlines and to content that reflects who we are and what we value. And, our emotions usually rule.Fitting all five of those qualities into each subject line can be a challenge, given character and inbox limits. Try to incorporate at least three each time for the greatest chances of resonating with your audience.

Fitting all five of those qualities into each subject line can be a challenge, given character and inbox limits. Try to incorporate at least three each time for the greatest chances of resonating with your audience.One of my favorites comes from ASOS, a UK-based clothing chain: “Open me quick! I expire at 6pm, payday treat.”

One of my favourites comes from ASOS, a UK-based clothing chain: “Open me quick! I expire at 6pm, payday treat.”This subject line incorporates personification (“Open me quick”), urgency (“I expire …”) and emotion (“payday treat”). Yes, it’s payday and I deserve a treat. Sold!

This subject line incorporates personification (“Open me quick”), urgency (“I expire …”) and emotion (“payday treat”). Yes, it’s payday and I deserve a treat. Sold!4. Think of every email as a survey you send subscribers.

4. Think of every email as a survey you send subscribers.Who receives your emails? Not faceless email subscribers. They’re your target market!

Who receives your emails? Not faceless email subscribers. They’re your target market!As such, they’re your built-in testing audience to teach you what makes them act. This is information you can use not just in email but also in website copy, banner and pay-per-click ads and more. Today’s ESPs make it so easy to do this, too.

As such, they’re your built-in testing audience to teach you what makes them act. This is information you can use not just in email but also in website copy, banner and pay-per-click ads and more. Today’s ESPs make it so easy to do this, too.Why not just survey your subscribers directly?

Why not just survey your subscribers directly? Because their actions – what they click on – reflect who they are, while their words reflect what they want or what they think you want them to want or what they’re feeling at that moment but not what they really want.Build strategic testing into every email campaign, and track what people are clicking on: what they browse, the pages they linger on, what they download, their navigation through your website.

Build strategic testing into every email campaign, and track what people are clicking on: what they browse, the pages they linger on, what they download, their navigation through your website.Use this information to create segments or to build personas that shape future email content. Your customers are self-categorizing just by clicking (or not clicking).

Use this information to create segments or to build personas that shape future email content. Your customers are self-categorizing just by clicking (or not clicking).5. Embrace the holistic approach to email.

5. Embrace the holistic approach to email. Email is not an island. It doesn’t function in a vacuum. Everything that happens before and after you send an email affects your results.

Email is not an island. It doesn’t function in a vacuum. Everything that happens before and after you send an email affects your results.One of

One of email’s greatest benefits is that it plays well with all other channels, each of which figures into your customer’s journey with your brands. Email can help you keep more of your customers on the journey or bring them back if they stumble off.

To fully embrace the holistic approach, though, email marketers must own the process end to end, to make sure the whole journey is optimised and seamless, with no disconnects that would give customers reasons to stumble off the path.

One of the most common disconnects – and one that’s easiest to prevent — happens when subscribers click from the email to the website.

Instead of landing on a page whose content reflects the images, copy and offer that they clicked on in the email, they find themselves wandering around the homepage or some interior page that has nothing to do with the email offer. A simple quality-control check will ensure your customers go where you send them.

6. Give your email subscription promotion the prominence it deserves.

As I mentioned, owning the email process end to end is an important aspect of the holistic approach to email marketing. This is easier said than done, especially on the competitive real estate of the home page.

But it’s worth asking for control because if you own the process, you can improve it. One small change – moving the subscription form from the bottom or middle of the page to the top – can make a positive difference for everyone.

Your web and ecommerce teams might not relinquish that precious space easily. However, few first-time visitors buy the first time they come to the site, and certainly not from the home page. Email is a low-barrier connection that can nurture them until they’re ready to come back and buy.

Wrapping Up

Although June is right around the corner, the year is still young enough yet that you have time to make measurable changes.

Although I’ve listed six strategies to help you drive better results, don’t feel that you must adopt all six in order to have an impact. Instead, decide where you need to show the most improvement, and pick the strategy that aligns with it. Once you start turning your email ship around, you can build on your success.

To begin, download the full study, “Email Marketing & Beyond: Global Industry Benchmarks 2017.” Also, listen in to the webinar where we discuss the results and my recommendations in greater depth. Finally, let me know in the comments below what you think of my recommendations and what your greatest challenges are in 2017.

Download the full report today

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