Email: Don’t Count the Inbox Out in This Decade

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Latest posts by Monica Hoyer (see all)

Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of the first email ever sent. While the death of email has been proclaimed as forthcoming for years, it’s got more lives than 007, James Bond. Email continues to be an integral part of the marketing mix, and brands need to understand the trajectory of the medium and how best to implement email into their marketing. Where Bond might utilize an explosive key chain (Thanks, Q), the latest toy in the email toolbox is AMP (accelerated mobile pages). This tool allows brands to provide more engaging and interactive experiences to their subscribers.

Email is still growing

Radicati has reported that there are 3.9 billion email users worldwide. In comparison, social media has 3.5 billion. Is the gap closing between these two mediums? Yes. But, neither of these numbers are shrinking, in fact, they are both getting larger. According to Statista, “In 2023, the number of global e-mail users is set to grow to 4.4 billion users, up from 3.8 billion in 2018.”

Participants in the DMA’s Consumer Email Tracker Report 2019 say they have 2.5 email addresses on average, across both personal and professional email accounts. But the numbers don’t stop there. Not only is the number of email addresses increasing, but the number of emails being sent is also growing exponentially, too. Over 281 billion emails were sent each day in 2018, and by 2023 it’s predicted that will grow to 347 billion.

As these statistics continue to grow, the need to stand out in the inbox and improve the quality of email content will become a priority, and brands need to determine ways to differentiate themselves by understanding what consumers want and need.

The P-Word is Still Important

Like with so many other marketing platforms, consumers seek personalized content that connects on a human level. Relevance and personalization are key to keeping subscribers, especially those who are younger. It’s essential for brands to think beyond the {{first name}} type of personalization. Subscribers want information based on interactions with their favorite brands. Dynamic content allows brands to customize emails to reflect the behavior and interests of their subscribers.

Personalization comes in many forms. Brands can customize messages based on past purchases (eCommerce) or how the consumer interacted with other email messages. For instance, a brand may know that Subscriber A clicked on a link to “learn more” where Subscriber B clicked on a link to “talk to a rep.” The next email from the brand should be adjusted based on that information.

Keep it Rel(avant)/Providing Value

When engaging with your subscribers, there’s no easier way to lose them than to send irrelevant information. How do you know what’s important to your customers? Look at how they interact with your messages and what content is getting the most clicks. That will tell you where the majority of your contacts are getting value from your content.

Another way to stay relevant to subscribers is for brands to take data and information from what people are interacting with on social channels. The posts that are popular on these channels will likely resonate with consumers, as well. For instance, if you have an infographic on social channels and it got 10% more likes or interactions than the typical content it obviously resonated. Take that infographic, increase the information around each point or piece of data and make an ebook. This is an easy way to prove to your base that you know what they like and provide value.

Clean your list

Keeping a clean list is also important. For example, the people on your list that haven’t opened one of your emails in over a year probably do not want to engage with you. But you can certainly ask them by compiling a list in your ESP of everyone that hasn’t opened your email in the past X months (most ESPs would recommend 6 months). Send that list something special (a piece of content that you haven’t sent anyone else) and also ask: “Do you really want to keep hearing from us?” or “We miss you – please come back!” It’s amazing the effect these types of emails can have. And, if after this short campaign, someone still doesn’t interact, remove them from the database. Yes, the list will be smaller, but the consumers who receive your messages will be people who actually want to hear from you.

Testing

Testing takes on many forms – my 7-year-old tests me every day – in email, testing can come in the form of something as simple as the time of day you send your emails or the color of your call to action button. Testing can also be messaging and the words you use to describe a product or service. Brands can test personalization of the “From” name – maybe making the email from the CEO or a marketing person will get a better open rate than if it’s from [Company Name]. Testing offers, price points, a link to a survey vs. a survey embedded in the email body – these are all ways to increase interaction with your emails.

Connecting on a human level

This is especially important now in the midst of COVID-19 and allows customers to look behind the velvet curtain, so to speak. Some easy ways brands can do this is by showing your customers how your team is staying connected virtually. Do you have a regular team conference call? Take a screenshot and post it in your email. Is your brand supporting your community through donations? If so, make sure you include links and photos in an email. By adding a photo to the bottom of your emails that demonstrate how your team is managing through this difficult time, you bring a human aspect to your business.

Personalization, relevance, keeping a clean list, testing, providing value, connecting on a human level with the consumer – these are all ways brands can ensure that they are standing out in the inbox. It is not about batch and blast anymore – that’s so 2000.

Consumers are willing to give up their email addresses. On average, almost 2% of website visitors give their email addresses to brands – and the super brands average a 4.77% conversion rate.

Even with a ROI of $42 for every $1 spent, email isn’t a magic bullet. It’s not a question of whether a brand does it, but rather how much effort should be applied to email vs. other channels. Brands cannot use only email. Just as they wouldn’t use only social media. Only search, or only events. Looking to the next decade, email is a channel that needs to be leveraged in conjunction with all other marketing efforts.


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