On the surface, email marketing seems simple.

Write a message, send it to subscribers, check your open rates.

But email marketing has grown significantly more complex over the past few years, as consumers adopt new wearables and devices, and as it's become easier than ever to unsubscribe from irritating messages.

So how can you, as a marketer, keep up with email's changing dynamics? On this week’s episode of the Marketing Cloudcast  —  the marketing podcast from Salesforce  —  we discuss the many updates to email marketing in the past year. We talked to the expert, Chad White, who is Research Director at Litmus and one of the primary thought leaders in email marketing.

Chad is releasing the third edition of his book Email Marketing Rules. So, we asked him: What's changed about email marketing since the first edition of his book? What mistakes are marketers making in regards to email that should be no-brainers at this point? He’s sharing plenty of his insights on email in 2017 with us in this episode.

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You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are six mistakes that marketers continue to make in 2017 when it comes to email — and Chad's advice for how to fix them.


#1: Committing email marketing that's neither functional nor respectful.


Email from companies should always be respectful, functional, and remarkable — yet many brands nowadays continue to make huge mistakes with regards to email respect and function. Chad says, “You can’t have a relationship if you don’t have the respect, and you can’t create value if you don’t have a functional email experience.” He acknowledges that these mistakes are not always the marketer’s fault, but that respect and permission should be a high priority for marketers. 

Unfortunately, even in 2017 when email marketing is one of the oldest digital marketing tactics, some marketers are still neglecting function and respect.



#2: Letting email marketing efforts transpire in a silo.


Chad advises that “Consumers see only one brand. Therefore, it is incumbent upon brands to act like one brand and to act like one channel.”

While Chad doesn’t necessarily believe that having access to so many marketing channels is a bad thing, he has seen that the omni-channel customer experience can have a negative effect on the email marketing channel. “Things that happen on the website need to come back and inform email marketing decisions. Things that happen in site search or on social media need to come back and inform your email marketing activities — both in general and sometimes on the individual level,” says Chad.

Too often, email marketers are living in a silo and sending messages that haven't been informed by other behaviors. It's time to change that.


#3: Neglecting email for other channels where consumers don't actually want brand interaction.


Chad explains that for many years, email has been the #1 preferred form of communication between consumers and brands. Almost everybody has an email account. In fact, there are more email accounts than Facebook accounts.

Here's what makes email so beneficial for marketers: It's the only platform where consumers are truly comfortable with receiving messages from the companies they do business with. Chad shares, “This is the channel where people want to receive communication from brands. Consistently for many years now, the number one channel where people want to hear from brands — it’s not Snapchat, it’s not Twitter — it’s email.”

Yet many marketers are making the mistake of neglecting email for the sake of other channels where consumers may or may not want to interact with your brand.


#4: Not leveraging the power of mobile.


Chad says mobile has also become an absolute game-changer for email. Subscribers can now get your emails anywhere, and at any time, which helps you get more screen time with them and improve engagement with emails. But many brands aren't optimizing their emails correctly for all mobile devices, which is a shame — and tons of money left on the table.

Plus, Chad continues, “[Email is] highly accessible, and it’s an open platform. No singular entity owns it, and that makes it really powerful and keeps that bar low in terms of cost.” So unlike social networks that can change their algorithms, you can be sure that when you email a subscriber, they'll get it (assuming you're not spamming them, of course).


#5: Sending more emails instead of better emails.


Unfortunately, email is so productive that many marketers do it poorly and still see a profit. Sending too many emails has allowed marketers to get lazy, as some have learned that they don’t need to work hard at it (or be selective with their messages) to see results. But, as Chad indicates, good email marketing can give you that extra edge over the competitor who only sees it as a cheap channel of communication.

Chad believes that “ultimately [excessive emailing] is going to get them into trouble, not only because they are missing out on lots more return that they could potentially have, but the way in which email marketing is evolving, it’s getting harder and harder to catch up once you start to fall behind. This is because of things like dynamic content and personalization — which require a lot of data organization."


#6: Not personalizing for today's high-expectation consumer.


Chad believes that in 2017, “the biggest disruptor for email marketing is rising consumer expectations.”

Customers know that companies will use their data to deliver personalized experiences — and 57% of consumers say they're willing to share personal data in exchange for personalized offers or discounts, according to Salesforce Research. And if they're not getting a personalized experience, it's easy to opt out.

“Personalization, dynamic content, marketing automation — these are things that consumers expect from us at this point. They know that we are tracking what they are doing. Consumers are incredibly aware of that, and they expect brands to use that information to serve them.”

All of these points prove, more than ever, the importance for marketers to deliver email content that is tailored to meet the needs, interests, and preferences of that particular consumer or buyer.

And that’s just scratching the surface of our conversation with Chad (@chadswhite). Get the complete scoop on dynamic email marketing techniques in this episode of the Marketing Cloudcast.

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