Email marketers are always on trend-watch. In a field as prone to change and innovation as theirs, it’s no wonder. Most of the time, diligence pays off, and students of the marketing game succeed as early adopters. Occasionally, though, a promising new development turns out to be a dead end. Here are some of the bona fide trends we’ve seen for 2016 as well as a couple of common tactics that should make you wary.
Statistically speaking, more than half your audience already reads your email messages on mobile devices. A year from now, the figures could be even more lopsided. Email marketers who aren’t yet embracing mobile-first design run a real risk of being left behind by increasingly mobile audiences. That doesn’t mean you should abandon your desktop readers, though: Depending on your industry, you may still have a sizeable market in traditional office settings, particularly in B2B. Marketing automation systems that track email opens across devices and support responsive email design technology are a viable solution no matter where the mobile-first trend takes your industry.
Your audience has more options than ever for fact-finding. In such an information-rich environment, it’s essential to make your content count. Every newsletter you mail out doesn’t have to contain lapidary prose or original research that will revolutionize your industry, but it absolutely must reward people for opening it. The “content is king” mantra may not be new, but the emphasis on meaning and purpose is. Everything you mail should have a clear purpose not only for your marketing department, but also for your audience.
Your email message can only be relevant when you know something about the people reading it. Learning about your audience and tailoring emails to them – not only according to their demographic data but also taking their interests and behaviors into account – has been a goal for marketers for years. Marketers have known about the importance of personalization since direct mail was no longer routinely addressed to “Occupant,” but only recently has marketing technology begun to catch up to the ideal of complete personalization. You’re now able to customize every element of your email campaigns – names, job titles, even content and images.
Email marketing is no longer isolated from other channels. It’s plugged into everything from social media to long-form site content to direct mail. The trend today is toward omni-channel marketing that allows leads to move from one channel to another with a minimum of friction. A single click on Facebook, for instance, can serve as a sign-up for a newsletter, which in turn contains links to white paper downloads or trade show invitations.
The previous trends depend heavily on a single technological advance: marketing automation. With it, businesses have the potential to increase email opens and responses by triple-digit percentages. Automation coordinates triggered emails, autoresponse messages, and drip nurture programs easily. It also lends itself well to analytics that provide real insight into your audience’s choices.
Now, let’s take a look at a couple of email marketing fads that are on their way out:
Clickbait Subject Lines
Email recipients are savvy people, and subject lines meant to mislead aren’t the way to earn their loyalty. While subject lines can have a little mystery to encourage readers to open them, the fashion for clickbait – sensationalistic titles that promise more than they deliver – are on their way out.
There are few shortcuts in email marketing. Companies that promise exponential expansion or unrealistic conversion rates through a “growth hack” only they offer generally don’t produce lasting results. Stick with proven successes and deliver useful, customized content to readers on the platforms they prefer.
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