I recently rewatched Nora Ephron's 1998 romantic comedy, "You've Got Mail," and I was struck by how much has changed since the movie's release. Back then, receiving an email was a big deal, and the AOL chime notice was a recognized part of pop culture. Today's reality is that you've got mail, and mail and mail: so much of it that managing email can steal hours from your workday. Email is a victim of its own success.
...strong, but could be stronger, according to the finding of our 2014 State of Marketing report, which surveyed more than 2,500 marketers. First, the testaments to email's strength:
It's the 50th email you've sent this year and it's still January, and you've heard about everything that could possibly be said about how to improve performance through subject line testing. You've used about every word combination, icons, and symbols to get attention. You've tried humor, trended terms and personalization. You've tried personalizing the subject line so much, "Hi [firstname]" even in personal email conjures up lead-generation images.
Besides the usual rush of campaign organization and planning, I hope you'll take time to investigate ways to help your email program deliver even more value in 2014. I outlined several initiatives in my last Email Insider column that I'll be working on with clients this year. Below are three more topics that deserve your focus this year.
Getting your email to the inbox isn't getting easier. Today, engagement-based inbox placement decisions are making it harder to reach email subscribers -- at least the unengaged. And the secret to getting past individual-level filters isn't as simple as "mail less."
I was recently at a client meeting when the inevitable benchmarking questions came up: they were comparing themselves to others in their space. And as that conversation carried forward, I was asked specifically what brands are doing a *great* job at striking the right balance between promotional content and editorial content within an email marketing program. Even though there surely are brands balancing promotional and editorial content well, unfortunately not a single one leapt immediately to mind.
As we turn the page on another year, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on two prominent forefathers of email marketing: Ray Tomlinson and Gary Thurek. Here's a brief history lesson about those who laid the initial groundwork for email marketing as we know it today.
There's been a lot written on the best time to send email. Over the years, it has changed from sending in the mornings, to mid-morning to afternoon to evening. All of us who deliver email for a living monitor changes in consumer patterns. But do trends shift due to consumer changing their patterns, or do marketers contribute to this pattern shift by conditioning consumers?
Email generated a lot of heat and light in 2013 for a channel that's supposedly on its way out. Gmail's maneuvers such as Tabs and image-caching, Yahoo's recycling of abandoned email addresses, and big-name acquisitions (ExactTarget, Responsys) got people talking in online forums, trade publications and conferences like MediaPost's Email Insider Summit. As we settle into 2014, though, I would like to see marketers refocus on meeting internal challenges and opportunities that can make email an even more valuable program, whether it drives more revenue, leads or customer loyalty.
The new model of contextual marketing depends on accessibility and anticipation. Accessibility refers to the technology our customers use to engage with brands (apps, mobile sites, campaign microsites, etc.) and our permission to engage back (subscribes, likes, follows, etc.). It is anticipation, though, that separates the wildly successful marketing campaigns from the mediocre. Anticipating the customer need indicated by a specific social status update, a local cold snap or use of an app at a certain time and place gives you, the marketer, the opportunity to wow consumers through brilliant contextual marketing. Seems great in theory, but can brilliant contextual …