Every time a marketer presses “send” on an email campaign, they’re making a set of promises to their database of recipients:
The message landing in their inbox is important, based on what the brand knows about your interests, needs and aspirations.
The message will provide value – not just necessarily in offering a product or service for purchase, but information, inspiration or insight.
The message should help develop your relationship with the brand in a positive way.
Not every email marketing campaign delivers on all these promises, of course. Some come with subject lines that tease value but don’t actually provide it. Others have clearly been sent with a “one-to-many” mindset, treating everyone in the database the same way.
These and other missteps may actually lead customers to not only delete a brand’s message, but unsubscribe from their list entirely and avoid giving them more business in the future.
Smart brands make sure this doesn’t happen, because they recognize the ongoing power of email as a digital marketing channel. It’s a medium where marketers may be able to offer more detail than is possible via a text message. They may have more control over the creative elements than when they advertise on third-party platforms like social media services. It’s a channel they effectively own.
Maybe the eighth edition of Salesforce’s State of Marketing report put it best: “Customers say that email is among their preferred channels to interact with brands, second only to the phone.”
With that in mind, Canadian small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have an opportunity to boost productivity and efficiency in how they manage email campaigns via marketing automation. When they use those sorts of tools in concert with a more holistic platform like Customer 360, they can also make greater use of data to target the right message to the right people and continuously improve results.
A few basics to keep in mind: people are no longer reading email on desktop PCs alone. Make sure you use the tools available to optimize your messages to be read easily on mobile devices like smartphones.
Next, remember that email is a two-way communications medium, so make it easy for people to provide feedback. This doesn’t have to be limited to sending a reply to your email campaign. Integrating social media functions into your messages provides additional opportunities for your customers to share their opinions of your brand in a public forum, and even their family and friends.
Other email marketing trends worth following include:
Several years ago, a popular meme showed that, despite their obvious differences, King Charles and Ozzy Osborne share many of the same traits. For example, they’re the same age, both live in London, have children and enjoy interests such as sports, cars, and dogs. That means they might traditionally be grouped in the same customer segments.
Having access to more customer data allows brands to get much more granular than superficial demographics. This can include targeting based on the last item someone purchased, interests they’ve shared through first-party surveys and occupation, among many other options. The more relevant your segments, the better you’re able to send an email campaign that particular customers will want to open.
You might not always write a formal salutation when you’re emailing your best friend, but that’s probably because the contents of your message reflect the fact it was written with them in mind. Contrast that with a lot of email marketing from brands that looks as though it is aimed at the widest possible audience.
Marketing automation allows for personalization that would have been impossible to do if marketers were to manually try and customize messages for each recipient. You can not only address customers and prospects by name, but include details that show you’re paying attention to where they’ve visited you online, their preferred product details (such as style or price), and even specific promotional codes.
Go even further by hyper-personalizing based on the subject line of the message, the day and time you send it, and even creative aspects such as images that will resonate. It’s what connected consumers increasingly expect.
“Open, scan, delete” is probably the journey most of us take through our inbox. Brands can slow that process down considerably when they take advantage of rich interactive content that gives recipients something more to do with their messages.
Use a product carousel, for instance, to let customers move through a series of products and services rather than focus on just one. Provide them with a quiz that gives them a fun way to compare their preferences and interests with their peers. Let them launch a survey to provide more detailed feedback on what they want from their customer experience, or products and services they’d like you to add.
The only way to successfully run email campaigns is to test and learn. You might need to switch up your subject line, your segments, or the entire contents of your message to get the performance you want. Until recently, this was done by looking purely at analytics based on historical data from your campaigns.
Artificial intelligence (AI) has changed that by empowering marketers to get predictive insights into how customers are likely to respond to a particular email campaign. This brings a new level of rigor to the testing they do, and allows them to make changes with greater confidence that improve open rates and other critical metrics.
The emergence of generative AI, meanwhile, allows marketers to create a much wider set of iterations quickly and easily on their email campaign content, from subject lines to the text or images of each message.
Email is a tried-and true marketing channel for a reason. Advances in AI and automation should give you many more reasons to make it a powerful part of your brand strategy in 2023 and beyond.