Keeping Up with E-mail Marketing Changes

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Remember the futuristic TV series Beyond 2000? We wandered beyond 2000 and while we were all either looking out for flying cars or the world to end, I don’t think we ever really stopped to consider how this technological boom was going to affect our business strategies. Or, for that matter, how digital would come to feature in our marketing tactics.

No doubt about it – our new dynamic marketing environment posed a challenge we accepted. We all have to sell. E-mail marketing came in with a swoop. A longstanding favorite among direct marketing channels, it became an important tool in most marketers’ arsenal. But digital never rests and with drastic recent changes in our online environment, it’s time to reflect on how to make these latest developments work in favor of your e-mail marketing strategy.

So what exactly are we looking out for?

A strong foundation

The days of people actually reading their e-mails are over. It’s no longer a replacement for snail mail, but more a quick way to say “Hi!” and let consumers know that you’re brand is still around. Its purpose, more and more, is to get top of mind in an overcrowded consumer mind. Ultimately, you want your e-mail to send existing or potential clients to your website, where they’ll (fingers crossed) – book an appointment or make a purchase – but in order to do that, they’ll have to open and read first. And that’s where we head back to basics: Strong copy in your subject lines and the content of your e-mail. It remains the basis of communication!

Keeping up

Naturally, changes in the e-mail industry have a great effect on how you approach your e-mail marketing. Major ISPs (such as Gmail and Hotmail) are focusing more and more on giving users the ability to control their inbox by giving preference to e-mails from certain senders. Basically, they’re monitoring users’ inboxes by looking at how they’re engaging with their e-mails, and sorting them accordingly, so it is increasingly important to work with these changes by sending out welcome e-mails (to get that crucial first interaction) and sending relevant, engaging content.

Another emerging trend to keep an eye on is the approach to video in e-mail, as it will raise questions such as which ISPs are enabling it, how to go about inserting it and how to incorporate video into your e-mail content.

The whole shebang

And then, of course, the infamous rise of social. How many times have we cursed Facebook for unleashing the beast? Yes, indeed, social and mobile are extending our marketing sphere even further – we’re now dealing with multiple communication channels that all need to be strategized appropriately. If you’re smart about it, you’re finding ways to integrate all these different channels. Your e-mail marketing service provider (ESP) should give you access to tools, it should come as no surprise, that enable you to integrate your mobile, social and e-mail marketing.

Can never get enough

As we’re pulled further into our online environment, we’re signing up to and receiving more and more e-mails! E-mail volume is increasing continuously. Make use of automated segmentation tools to create sub-groups of your mailing list – group your subscribers by common denominators such as age, gender or even interests. Then be sure to write targeted content that’s relevant and valuable to these subscribers. It’s the only way your e-mail will take priority in a never-ending inbox!

Catch them if you can

By now, most of us also have more than one e-mail address – your personal and your work e-mail, and often an extra one or two thrown in for good measure. These addresses are also often changing quite rapidly as we move jobs and finish-off projects. Amidst all these changes, it’s quite easy for you to lose a subscriber because you’re sending to an outdated e-mail address. Be sure to remind your subscribers to update their details regularly and manage your mailing lists effectively.

When everyone wants it their way…

The way in which online interaction has developed has given users steadily more control of what information they want to consume, in what format and regularity. We’ve become acclimated to having this kind of control and are increasingly selective in what we choose to consume. Luckily, e-mail marketing is permission-based, which is appealing to both marketers and subscribers. Allow your potential clients to manage what brand information they receive from you as easily as possible by allowing them to set up subscriber profiles and preferences.

Staying on track

More than ever, measuring and tracking your various marketing efforts are becoming increasingly important the more the marketing environment expands. So yes, you need to keep an eye on your e-mail marketing reports and stats, but take note of your social share stats as well. These will tell you where, how and by whom your e-mail newsletter was shared across social channels. A truly excellent way of seeing how your e-mail campaign has affected your web traffic – if your ESP allows it – is to integrate your e-mail marketing account with your Google Analytics. Also remember that, if you practice mobile marketing, it is possible to track your bulk SMS sends.

Consumers have come to expect automated marketing that caters to their individual needs, interests and specifications across a range of channels. The good news is that e-mail marketing is the perfect tool – you just need to optimize it accordingly.

Quattro Internet Solutions (Ltd) t/a GraphicMail’s hosted e-mail marketing solution is used by customers such as Cosmopolitan, SA Airlink, Europcar and the American Medical Association since 2002. It is available in 10 languages and is represented by more than 17 offices globally. Follow GraphicMail on Twitter, Facebook and their e-mail marketing blog.  Contact: Barbara Ulmi, GraphicMail marketing manager, barbara@graphicmail.com.

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