I was going to write an article about having a good time at the DMV, but decided to tackle a more challenging topic instead: How to make email delightful. Before I tackle the how, however, it may be necessary to spend some time on the why. Delightfulness is not currently recorded in most email ROI analyses and is a seldom-addressed objective, so why even bother?
In the wake of Edward Snowden's revealing a government surveillance program that monitors data through multiple sources including telephone records, email exchanges, social media and the Web at large, consumers currently have a heightened awareness about online privacy and how their information is handled. The recent exposure undoubtedly has given businesses a reason to look at their current privacy policies and how they disclose them to consumers.
I recently started reading "The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business," by Charles Duhigg. Going in, I wanted to tap the information about the habits of successful organizations, but as it turns out, I've found myself absolutely intrigued by the science behind the development (and re-development) of habits in individuals. A major theme of the book focuses on the idea of a three-step habit loop that turns our everyday behaviors into auto-pilot habits. I'll argue that email marketers have created a similar three-step email habit loop with consumers and subscribers. But are we …
Gmail's new Tabs feature, which sorts new email messages into tabs labeled Primary, Social, Promotions, Updates and Forums, might actually be an inbox innovation that sticks with users. This has some marketers fretting that Tabs could eventually hurt email engagement because it segregates commercial marketing messages under the Promotions tab instead of delivering them automatically to the Primary tab. We probably won't know for at least a year how Tabs will truly affect promotional email, but you don't have to wait that long to get your email act together so that it plays well with Tabs.
Let's face it: Email has gotten sloppy. In a fight to stand out from unsolicited spam, you would think marketers would be using all the latest technologies and taking an optimized approach to converting emails to sales. But, as you can see from your own inbox, many marketers are either on auto-pilot and use one voice for all people, or are confused about the length, frequency and voice so they just end up missing the mark on all three.
We recently released "The Best of the Email Swipe File," which identifies five trends affecting email design and highlights 20 examples that best exemplify those trends.
"The relationship era" has become the label for our time, integral to the digital marketer's new identity. As digital marketing has evolved alongside technology, marketers have long seen ourselves as customer-centric, but the relationship era pushes us to move even further, from our focus on individual marketing campaigns to a bigger-picture look at how our content adds value to customers' lives. Email remains an excellent channel for engagement in the relationship era.
I've recently seen a few marketers introduce gaming into their email programs. You can use this technique to effectively drive engagement and motivate subscribers to seek out ways to tap the value of your messages. And, since you are awarding points for behaviors you already track, like opens, clicks, and conversions, the concept can be very straightforward to employ.
Is email marketing an out-of-the-box marketing activity? Has it become so cookie-cutter that it's hard to distinguish the great program from the baseline? Are you using the same tactics across the board? Some might say, "That's marketing" -- you take what you know and rinse-repeat and iterate.
Email marketers have a trusty handful of metrics they track regularly. Most marketers will track opens, clicks and conversions on a program-by-program basis. Some more sophisticated marketers will use holdout tests to provide a better view of the revenue that can be attributed to the email channel. These are great metrics. We're used to them and they work. However, we've found that when our clients are asked to set targets for the next year or quarter, the approach taken is typical and less-than-optimal.