There couldn’t be a better time to strategize final changes and improvements to your 2013 email marketing programs as you ready them for launch. In fact, while many of your new year’s email plans may be firmly sketched out, it’s not too late to give them a final polish with these insights and tweaks. Knowing where to amplify, adjust or even contract can take your email marketing programs from “ho-hum” to significantly greater impact on your bottom line in 2013.
Here are my top five recommendations for boosting email marketing results and impact in the coming year. Stay tuned in January for even more ideas to make 2013 your email program’s most successful year yet!
1. Strengthen and Clarify Permission
Review and clarify your permission practices and tie them to specific types of email you send or specific email communication tracks/programs/publications you offer. Make it easy for people to pick and choose what to opt-into, what the different tracks/programs are, and how they can adjust frequency or format (daily vs. weekly digest? graphic vs. text?). If you’re still offering a single global subscribe/unsubscribe to your email marketing, it’s time to expand into detailed preference centers and to begin collecting specific email preference data from your subscribers.
2. Engage New Subscribers Early and Often
Most companies’ email lists are heavily burdened with inactive subscribers (up to 60% by some estimates). One reason is that interest in most brands or merchandise categories naturally wanes over time. But sadly, a huge percentage of inactive subscribers is the result of never properly communicating with them in the first place. One secret to avoiding disengagement is to intentionally cultivate a pattern of response with new subscribers right from the start. Think in terms of repeatedly encouraging them and conditioning them to take action, even if it isn’t to buy but simply to interact with content, enter a sweepstakes, or share to social. Furthermore, consider amplifying your welcome and onboarding email programs by expanding them from a single message into a series of messages.
As for those subscribers whose activity has truly lapsed, consider attempting to wake them up and keep them awake earlier than the typical six months to a year most marketers wait before they do anything about the problem. When it comes to your email list, early and frequent intervention to the disengaged will prevent them from lapsing into a permanent coma.
3. Think Mobile
There’s no avoiding it – email is on the go – being read everywhere, all the time thanks to mobile devices – and showing no signs of stopping. With upwards of 30% of all email now read on a mobile device (and this figure is projected to increase) you’ll probably need to simplify email message design to accommodate the visible limitations of email on smartphones and tablets. In your email templates and messages, think single column, leaner content, and easier-to-see-and-press call-to-action buttons or icons. Use Litmus or similar tools to test how your email is showing up in the inbox. And don’t forget landing and site pages – they may need design tweaks as well to become easier to view and interact with in mobile environments.
4. Deepen Segmentation
Simple segmentation by gender, age, company size or other such attributes may still have its place, but it’s been long understood by database marketers that past behavior is an excellent predictor of future behavior. That’s why it’s essential to collect subscriber data that can be used to segment in ways that drive more business, such as using annual purchase totals to segment by spend level. When a subscriber takes a meaningful action, record it so you’re building a behavioral history for use in future segmentation, targeting, development of triggered email programs and selection of offers for different customer groups. Plus, knowing past behavior gives you a baseline against which to test and learn the email strategies that successfully move the needle – yielding greater opens, clicks, more sales, higher average order value, or more frequent conversions – in the future.
5. Make the shift from Static to Dynamic Content
Does your email message design still follow a “one size fits all” approach? It doesn’t have to. The use of dynamic content allows date-, place- and time-specific images and copy to be served in an email message so that it is unique to when, where or on which device it is opened. Dynamic content also enables the serving of different copy or images to different subscribers based on individual attributes or segmentation criteria (i.e. East coasters see one version, West coasters another; or men and women see different versions of a message). Imagine incorporating actual user reviews, custom recommendations based on previous purchases (like Amazon does) or even different suggestions based on the weather! All is possible with dynamic content; check out this prior post for more.
Chances are, if you’re not already employing most of the above, even incorporating one of these power-boosters will yield an increase in revenue and profits from your email marketing. For more ideas request a no-cost, no-obligation breakthrough session and tune again in January.
Until then, feel free to share your top suggestions for boosting email marketing results – what have you tried or tested that made a huge impact for you? What hidden gems and kernels of wisdom do you have to impart? Share them in comments below, and happy holidays!