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May 20, 2015

The Evolution of E-mail Marketing

Image courtesy of (FrameAngel)/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

In a digital world that is so frequently changing, for businesses to stay successful in the marketplace, it’s necessary to implement not only the best practices, but the most up-to-date tactics. With e-mail marketing, there are several things to consider to ensure that you’re being as effective with your efforts as possible. 

Personalization

When e-mail campaigns were first introduced into a coherent online marketing strategy, how data was received and categorized was very basic when compared to the data you can get today. In the past, e-mail personalization was done manually, and would often be a process where someone had to spend hours upon hours finding out how customers signed up for something on the website and then finding a related e-mail to send as a follow up. Now, it is relatively simple and completely automatic to determine how users signed up for something on your website, the time spent on the website, and even something as intricate as the navigation flow taken by users. Through automated personalization and automation, this process has been completely streamlined. While this method may take some effort initially to set up e-mail triggers and workflows as well as build out lists, it leads to a far more personalized e-mail experience with higher open rates, click-through-rates, and a more tailored experience for each individual user than ever before.

Load Time

When e-mail marketing was first introduced, it was largely text-based, and as a result there were few issues with load time. As discussed above, most e-mails now have visuals involved. For an industry like IT, where you’re selling services that are highly correlated with the Internet, your e-mails should be a good reflection of your strengths and expertise—so you shouldn’t have slow load times when someone opens your e-mails. If you’re a company that uses large amounts of images in your e-mails, you want to make sure that it won’t impact the user experience and leave users waiting for 15 seconds before the e-mail loads. Putting images through programs like ‘Optimizely’ (https://www.optimizely.com/) that optimizes visuals to be the smallest size possible, while still retaining quality, enhances the load time as much as possible.

Scheduling

Understanding the need for appropriate timing of e-mails is essential to the success of your business’ overall e-mail efforts. Previously, sending e-mails once a day offering certain deals or exclusives was acceptable. Today, these best practices are vastly different. The threshold for an email to be considered spam is a lot higher than it used to be, and sending e-mails multiple times a week will likely result in your messages being treated as spam. Focusing on the schedule of your e-mails as well as the value and relevancy of the content you’re sending is crucial and will make all the difference with open rates and deliverability. Constantly inundating users with email will also hurt your overall brand credibility, and hurt existing email campaigns and any other campaigns you might use going forward.

Coding

When your e-mails are being accessed on different platforms, you need to think about how it will look on each of them to confirm that you’re reaching your audience effectively. In the past, there were less platforms, and it was relatively simple to do a quick check on major e-mail platforms like AOL, Yahoo, Gmail, to see if your e-mail looked as it should. With so many different platforms and devices in the marketplace today, this is no longer the case and you need to be optimizing your messages for nearly every platform and device imaginable. Using a tool like MailChimp to identify what devices the majority of your e-mail list uses, and then making sure that your newsletters work well on those platforms is a good way to “double check” that you’re reaching almost everyone in your demographic. E-mails that don’t render properly leave a lasting negative impression for users and bad emails that look amateurish on certain platforms will ruin brand credibility in the eyes of your audience.

Layout

When the e-mail space was relatively new, a lot of B2Bs used text-only e-mails when doing e-mail campaigns. The idea was to make it look like a standard, personalized e-mail as much as possible by using standard text and strong, captivating copy that would make users want to convert. While this is still a method used by many companies (particularly in the B2B and service verticals), for most companies selling a product you need to have imagery that shows the product or service your email is trying to sell. E-mails that are image-based should be treated similar to a Web page, with a main call-to-action button, and visuals that attract attention to a certain goal you’re trying to accomplish. If you have too many images and users have to scroll down to reach your main call-to-action, you’re going to lose their attention, and they will be less inclined to convert.

Remember that there is a fine line between too much imagery and too little imagery—finding the appropriate amount is key. Keeping important images and messaging above the fold, and making sure the call-to-action is visible on as many devices as possible is the new standard for excellent e-mail marketing.


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Gabriel Shaoolian is a digital trends expert and CEO and founder of Blue Fountain Media, a digital agency in NYC focused on growing brands online through effective websites and online marketing. From start-ups to Fortune 1000s, Blue Fountain Media helps generate more leads and increased brand recognition Last year alone, the company, which has a client roster that includes Procter & Gamble, Harper Collins, Canon, NFL, Publishers Clearing House, Sharp, AOL and the United Nations, drove more than 200 million monthly visitors and $2 billion in revenue to the digital properties of its clients.

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