In my final Email Insider column of the year, I'm not going to list the usual 2011 highlights or 2012 trends for email marketing. No checklists, or top 10 must-do lists or must-not-do lists this time. Instead, I ask you to do just one thing in 2012: focus on improving the single most critical aspect of your email program in order to drive significantly more revenue or conversions and to exceed, not just meet, your key program goals.
I am intrigued by the revelation that Google is testing email subscriptions within its paid search results. And it looks like the company is starting with Honda. There is conjecture that this may only garner a small conversion rate, but I find it interesting that a company that has made it so difficult for email marketers to engage with its subscribers is now encouraging email subscription -- if it can charge the marketer a premium for it (I bet).
Marketing trade publications have been declaring "the year of mobile" for many years now, but this was particularly true in 2011, when the reach and effectiveness of email increased primarily thanks to mobile and tablet devices. Many pundits focus on issues of mobile design -- as if mobile emails were just like regular email, but smaller. While design is an important consideration, I think we need to focus more on how mobile email actually changes overall behavior around email in ways that could be very interesting. I see three trends to watch:
This was the year that mobile email began to take hold. More and more marketers began to see their mobile open rates increase. It was impossible to ignore the growing smartphone market as it began to outpace laptop and computer sales. And now that Apple is on to its second version of the iPad, the slightly-less-early adopters have jumped on the tablet bandwagon.
2011 has been an explosive year by all rights. We've seen social media achieve new heights in reach: one in every nine people is on Facebook! And it's integral to our lives; each Facebook user spends over 15 hours per month on the site. That's more time than most parents will spend helping their kids do homework in any given month. We've seen the advertising industry shift as well, with more scrutinizing of online advertising.
If you've been following my Email Insider columns for a while, you probably know that I'm a big fan of the "Happy Birthday" email. It's a "high ROI/low LOE" (level of effort) email that is customer-centric, can delight your subscribers, enhance your brand and engagement, and also add a revenue stream to boost your bottom line.
We refer to email as a permission-based channel, but permission is not really the objective of an email program. It's the cost of doing business, to be sure. Before anything else, you need to have earned the right to reach out to a customer or prospect through email. But the real objective of your email program is attention. If you're a parent, particularly of a child between four and 18 years old, you already know the distinction I'm talking about. No doubt you have permission to talk to your kids whenever you want. But do you always have your kids' …
At MediaPost's Email Insider Summit this week, a number of interesting conversations were held, presentations made, panels put together (as always), and tweets tweeted. One of the conversations early on was focused on email marketing strategists' liberal use of the phrase "it depends." While some feel it is overused, others agree that it is a necessary evil, given there is no single solution for all email woes.
The most heated panel at this winter's Email Insider Summit has been "When to Say Goodbye." This group was asked to address the reality that more than half of most email subscriber files are inactive - meaning that subscribers have not opened or clicked on an email for some extended period of time. What should you do? Should you keep mailing, remove, attempt to reactivate? And how do you determine who stays and who goes?
Four years ago, when I started laying the groundwork for the recently released Email Engagement & Deliverability Study, whether subscribers engaged with your emails was considerably less important. Now that ISPs are increasingly using engagement metrics to determine deliverability, it's vital to maintaining healthy inbox placement, especially for high-volume senders. In that light, I was shocked to find that so many major retailers continue to mail chronically inactive subscribers.