Email is one of the most profitable marketing channels today. Looking at all the new technology hitting the market it does seem like the sky is the limit. With this new technology comes new consumer expectations, and new email marketing trends.
Many of the trends in email marketing are heavily based on technology advances. Optimizing email messages, both in design and message, for mobile platforms appears to be the wave of the future. At least, this is the big topic for discussion around many marketing tables.
Let’s take a look at what the predictions and trends are for email marketing in 2013 and beyond.
Digging into the Details
There has been talk that email marketing is on its way out, but the data shows a different picture. Email itself is only increasing in popularity, especially as more devices make it so easy to check messages anywhere and anytime.
According to the Radicati Group, Inc., the number of email accounts reached 2.9 billion in 2010, and email currently outpaces accounts on Facebook and other similar sites. The group predicts that email accounts will grow to over 3.8 billion in 2014.
With the growing reliance on email, it’s no wonder that consumer behavior continues to be influenced by the inbox. ExactTarget found that well over three-quarters of those surveyed in its 2012 Channel Preference Study preferred to get permission-based marketing messages via email versus other channels.
Impressively, the same study found that email drives consumer purchases more than any other marketing channel. Sixty-six percent of the respondents said they made a purchase based on a marketing email, followed by direct mail, telephone, Facebook and text message, in that order.
The email marketing trend is growing because it works, and if you aren’t on board, you should be. A Forrester Research Email Marketing Forecast, 2011 to 2016, the amount spent on email marketing in the United States will increase by just shy of $1 billion by 2016. More and more companies are including email in overall marketing strategy, giving them a possible competitive edge over those who haven’t heeded the trends.
It’s a Mad, Mobile World
According to Flurry Analytics, December 25, 2012, alone, saw 17.4 million new smartphones and tablets activated. Christmas week saw a record 50 million iOS and Android devices activated. There’s no question that we are firmly in the mobile age.
As such, it is predicted that email marketing will continue to evolve to be mobile-device friendly. And it should be. The data shows that consumers clearly are accessing and influenced by emails on their Smartphones and other mobile devices.
Here are just a few eye-opening stats:
- 79% of people use their smartphone for reading email, a higher percentage than those who use it to actually make phone calls. Adobe –2013 Digital Publishing Report: Retail Apps & Buying Habits (2013)
- More email is read by Mobile device than by desktop or via webmail. About 40% of email is now opened on a mobile device. Litmus –Email Analytics (Jan 2013)
In addition, mobile emails influence purchasing behavior. According to ExactTarget’s 2011 study Mobile Dependence, just over one-half of U.S. consumers who made at least one purchase using their Smartphone have done so because of a marketing email accessed via a mobile device.
Image source: www.ExactTarget.com/sff
Surprisingly, data shows that only a small amount of companies have optimized their email campaigns to be compatible with mobile devices. Only 14% of companies and 24% of agencies are designing emails specifically for mobile, according to the 2011 eConsultancy Conversion Rate Optimization Report.
This could be the make or break for successful mobile email marketing, with good reason. Consumers often say they find reading emails harder on mobile devices than on computers; if they open a non-optimized marketing email via a mobile device, it could lead to disaster.
A 2012 BlueHornet study found that nearly 70% of consumers will delete an email immediately if it doesn’t display correctly:
To be a successful email marketer, you would do well to get ahead of the curve, and consider making your messages mobile-friendly.
Managing the Message
Now that we know the trends in email delivery, what are we looking at in terms of the emails themselves?
In 2013 and beyond, out are the one-size-fits-all email messages.
As technology becomes more sophisticated, so must the email marketing campaigns that we send. The basic tenets of email message crafting are the same, but some aspects are evolving.1. Personalization:
According to the Aberdeen Group’s report, Email Marketing: Get Personal with Your Customers, personalized emails improve click-through rates by 14%, and conversion rates by 10%.
Blanket email blasts to an entire mail list are falling by the wayside. It is safe to say that email marketing will get better response if the message is personalized to the recipient. Analytics and data collection are key to tailoring your message for specific segments of your audience.
A way to kick personalization up a notch is by using triggered emails, where further emails are triggered by a recipient’s response, or lack thereof, to a previous email. According to Chad White, principal of marketing research at ExactTarget, email marketers using this and other sophisticated technology are significantly outperforming those that aren’t.
“Under invest in triggered emails at your own peril,” White relates.2. Visualization:
The popularity of sites like Pinterest and Instagram has shown that consumers are interested in images and visualization. This trend is predicted to carry over into email marketing, as well. Images, graphics and photos can all serve as visual aids to add impact to emails.
According to White, recent graphic developments, like special characters in subject lines, are here to stay. In addition, video in email will become much more popular due to new advancements.
“HTML5 video will finally deliver on the video in email experience that marketers have long craved,” he says.3. Integration:
Marketing across the various devices and channels available to consumers can give them a new experience with your brand. Messages that link to other social sites, like Facebook and Pinterest, or are accessible across several devices, are well-received, if not expected, by consumers.
If you plan to take advantage of this trend, make sure you present a clear theme that ties all channels and messages together.
The Trend to Follow
As you look at your email marketing strategies are you taking into account these trends? Technology, and most importantly mobile devices, are dictating the future of email campaigns. Are your messages responsive or mobile friendly? Do they engage a reader with a degree of personalization? Are they interesting or visual?
Ask yourself these questions and research how you can best integrate the trends to optimize your email marketing campaign returns.
Michael Zipursky is an author, consultant and entrepreneur. He is co-founder of the consulting blog, Business Consulting Buzz, a resource center with hundreds of articles and interviews helping consultants to become more successful. Michael is also actively involved with FreshGigs.ca, a jobsite specializing in marketing, communications and creative jobs in Canada. You can connect with Michael on Twitter @MichaelZipursky
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