Six Email Marketing Trends to Consider Right Now

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Email isn’t going anywhere. It remains an effective and cost efficient way to acquire and maintain customers. It’s my firm belief that this year email will become even more important to a company’s digital marketing strategy. New technology developments, the prevalence of mobile and social media will add strings to its proverbial bow.
Here are six trends marketers should consider right now to improve their email marketing initiatives and reap the benefits of this high performing channel.

1. More dynamic email content. The wider introduction of HTML5 in 2012 won’t alter the role of email per se, but it does enable the creation of more dynamic content. This will ultimately mean richer, more engaging emails across all devices. The integration of video and animation, without the need for external plug-ins, will enhance the display compatibility of email on a PC, smartphone or tablet.

2. Optimizing email for mobile devices. A recent European study confirms that more than 47 percent of internet users now read emails on a mobile device several times a day. Time pressures mean that many opt for a quick and easy way of managing their inbox on the go. As a result, companies should pay attention to their customers’ mobile email usage to better understand this behavior and provide content in the proper format.

This means adapting the design of commercial emails using cascading style sheets (CSS) and HTML5. In addition, email content needs to be more succinct—relevant, targeted information in a shorter format.

That doesn’t mean marketers should disregard longer emails or newsletters. Using email to link to long form content, hosted on a mobile-optimized website, is effective. In these instances, an email acts as a prompt or reminder so users aren’t overwhelmed with information and can read the longer message at a more convenient time.

3. Data security. Personalization is more important than ever. The sheer volume of customer data used to create personalized experiences means many companies use, or will use, cloud computing for data sharing and storage.

As a result, data security is critical which means IT and marketing departments need to work closely together. This applies to all areas of data management: from selecting hosting solutions, to SMS and social network campaign management platforms.

4. Bolstering social marketing with email. Although many marketers have invested time and resources into developing a social media presence, budgetary pressures in the current economic environment impact how companies identify the ROI of their social activity.

Social networks offer significant opportunities for consumer engagement. It’s now time for companies to optimize their presence and develop initiatives that make full use of social media and email integration, to mirror the behavior of consumers.

In this more familiar and direct way, brand-to-consumer social media relationships can only grow stronger in 2012.

5. Email retargeting and consumer engagement. Marketers are waking up to the need to enhance the entire customer journey with loyalty initiatives that foster engagement across multiple online touch points.

With sophisticated, efficient tools at their disposal, marketers can target customers based on their behavior. Yet, email retargeting is still predominantly used solely to remind consumers of abandoned online purchases.

Retargeting emails are seriously underutilized. They can be just as effective when deployed to communicate about products viewed, comparable products and relevant offers. In addition, there is a wealth of data that marketers have access to for more relevant targeting. This involves actively using data such as customer birthdays, or other important milestones to offer discounts, free samples or special previews.

Enriching the customer experience through adapted email content is important for engagement and ultimately creates added value for the brand.

6. A more collaborative approach to marketing. Data isn’t constant and email shouldn’t be either. To achieve success, it’s vital that marketers draw on expertise from across all departments. This means being collaborative in order to foster a more strategic, analytical approach to communications.

When a company goes online, its entire service offering becomes more transparent. Each department therefore has a stake in understanding how it relates to the customer base. That’s why it’s important to have greater cohesion between different parts of the business; in order to identify the impact email marketing has on each department. Ultimately, such acute awareness of customer engagement can only benefit the business.

The different modes of media consumption are likely to continue their digital development. As email easily integrates with different platforms, marketers have every opportunity to harness potential without changing their approach.

However, ROI is more important than ever, meaning there’s a need to quickly master new knowledge and competencies. Thankfully, email is tried and true, as well as adaptable.

Simeon Lando
Simeon Lando is Senior Director of Strategic Consulting at Epsilon International where he helps global brands create actionable, integrated marketing strategies that improve the customer experience.

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