For businesses, the methods and the methodology with which we design consumer interaction is changing. And nowhere is it moving faster than in the digital landscape. The way your business presents itself to consumers is important in building successful customer relations. And how better to interact with consumers than through email?
Email marketing is not dead: Email marketing tactics have simply evolved. Businesses must be willing to change with them or fear getting left to rot in the spam folder. As the owner of a digital marketing company, I have learned many email marketing lessons the hard way, through countless experiments with approach and strategy.
Tailored Email Campaigns
The days when you could drum up a boilerplate email and blast them off to your subscribers are quickly diminishing.
So, what’s the alternative? We looked to one of the most innovative and exciting social media networks: Pinterest. Pinterest did away with batch-and-blast emails earlier this year and replaced them with emails that are 100% tailored to the user. Pinterest uses all of the customer data it is given (and, with its model, there is plenty of data) to personalize the customer experience and create emotional connections with its users.
By analyzing its customer's interests, Pinterest sparks their curiosity, leading to more clicks and opens. Pinterest also allows each user to personally customize their email settings, determining the frequency and type of emails they receive. This type of customization is key in that the users dictate how they are marketed to, making them more receptive and less inclined to mark emails as "spam." Whereas it's normally the marketer's job to determine how best to perform outreach to different demographics, under the Pinterest model, the customer tells them directly, "I want to be marketed to this way."
Real-Time Email Outreach
Real-time email triggers, which are already in use but not altogether effective yet, are going to be a game changer for email marketing. Essentially, a campaign like this is based on what the consumer is currently reading or searching for in their various social media feeds. For example, if a customer is reading reviews of a new movie, the movie times and methods for buying tickets online would arrive in their inbox in real time.
Yesmail is one of the leading companies for this kind of marketing: its platform allows businesses to set these triggers. For now, these triggers are fairly rudimentary, mostly relegated to the world of weather, location, sports and local events. Ideally, this will grow to include more triggered events based on habits, both online and locally.
While the types of trigger emails you should use are relative and determined by your business's niche, the general idea is to leverage awareness about your customer's situation so you can ignite a real-time dialogue with them via email and achieve greater influence.
Modular Email Templates
If you haven’t been using modular email templates, you’re not alone. It’s a wonder they haven’t become more prevalent as many businesses continue to choose the time-consuming process of coding all of their emails from scratch.
Think of modular email templates as a sort of digital collage: Drag and drop the content you want to use and build it, much like you would use web-building services like Weebly or Squarespace. Currently, only a few companies offer this kind of customizability. But no doubt, as personalized email becomes increasingly more common, so too will these kinds of email templates.
The future of email marketing is inextricably wrapped up in the future of social media. Brands can build their email lists through the use of carefully-placed social media campaigns, garnering more ROI than a simple social media “like” and using those emails to bounce the consumer back to their social media landing page, website or mobile app. Anytime you offer the customer a clear benefit (through competitions, surveys, quizzes or free giveaways), they will likely share their email address in order to receive it.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
If you’ve used Google Inbox, you’ve already seen how your phone reads your emails and learns to respond. It’s still pretty basic (an algorithm that creates three short replies based on the email content you’ve received), but it’s gotten smarter in the last few years and will likely continue until we’re all just auto-replying through Smart Reply.
These types of AIs are becoming more common for marketers and consumers alike. Take Shopify’s Kit or Conversica: AI chatbots are being used as personal assistants for businesses to generate custom advertisements, social media posts and, yes, even email campaigns. This kind of AI and advanced algorithms will help make processes like the aforementioned personalized email campaigns that much easier to execute.
The future of email marketing is already in place, but is certainly far from perfect. By 2020, businesses and marketers should already be using all of the avenues currently available and, beyond that, be on the cutting edge of advancing marketing strategies for the years to come.
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