Our annual review of email marketing practices of major online retailers, "2011 Top Retailers Study: Benchmarks, Trends and Tactics for Better Marketing," is just out, and the findings are disappointing. From basic practices such as welcome emails to more sophisticated cart abandonment recovery emails, too many retailers are still missing in action. Following is a review of a few key areas:
I recently had the pleasure of seeing Ken Blanchard speak. Ken is the author of "The One Minute Manager" and a new book titled "Lead with LUV," which he co-authored with Colleen Barrett, president emeritus of Southwest Airlines. One of the key concepts of Ken's presentation is: if you don't take care of your customers, someone else will. I couldn't agree more.
Advice aimed at marquee email clients -- those with millions of records in their database and highly sophisticated targeting, dynamic content and segmentation strategies -- may represent the pinnacle of email thought leadership, but falls on deaf ears at the vast majority of companies that rely on email but haven't nearly the same resources. Even worse, advice designed to inspire and educate ends up discouraging marketers who can't take advantage of it. Hear enough clients say, "That's great advice, but we'll never be able to do it," and you come to realize that there's nothing wrong with the clients, but …
Ready for yet another article on being relevant? For more than 10 years now, we have been talking (as an industry) about achieving relevance in our email programs and really driving true lifecycle messaging, but we remain stuck in neutral.
We all know about CAN-SPAM. We all know about the necessity of working within the opted-in framework so that customers do not need to opt-out in order not to receive unwanted emails. But doing the minimum isn't enough. Let's start with the unsubscribe button itself. Make it clear. Make it obvious. No, it doesn't have to be more obvious than the offer attached to the email, but don't make your customers hunt for it, either.
Last week we unveiled the 2011 Email Design Look Book, which celebrates outstanding email design and copywriting from 20 brands. While each email stands alone as a fantastic example of marketing, together they illuminate several trends that will be vital to email marketing success in the coming years.
The essentials of great email marketing programs have not changed a lot over the years, but the number of options at your disposal has definitely increased. Let's map out a few fundamentals that can help tell how we'll adapt for success tomorrow.
In my December 2010 column, "Email's New Role In a World Gone 'Mocial,'" I outlined some thoughts on how email would thrive in an environment where consumers increasingly go mobile, social and local. That column spawned an idea to survey email marketers to better understand where they are on the mocial adoption and integration curve. In a nutshell, we're still early in the mocial game.
Unless you're behind the push to use alternative web-based mediums for communication, the idea of email becoming extinct anytime soon may seem dubious. But chances are strong that you used web-based email less in 2010 than 2009.
For a very long time I hated social media. Brands flocked to gain followers and fans, but to what end? It felt like the early days of email, when companies put forth initiative after initiative to capture email addresses, without much thought to how they would use them. The key difference though, is that companies could always generate ROI from email addresses by sending out an email. It has never been as clear how a company could possibly use a "like" to drive ROI.