Email Marketing is Evolving – Top 3 Best Practices to Meet Consumers’ Needs

By Jovan Stojanovich, Director, Platform Partnerships, Theorem

According to recent data from Hubspot, 37% of brands are increasing their budgets for email marketing this year. This is largely in part due to the fact that email has proven to drive value with ROI, averaging 35 to 40 times the investment. Email marketing enables brands to reach their audience directly with personalized communication at scale.

However, consumers can be hard to reach, with their attention often split in many different directions. In order to effectively reach audiences, email marketing needs to evolve.

So what can brand marketers do to ensure they’re getting enough bang for their buck when it comes to email marketing. Several strategies should be followed to have the most success: (1) focusing on personalization which includes audience segmentation and leveraging data, (2) encouraging device optimization which considers the various ways consumers are receiving emails and (3) automation of processes.

Personalization and zero-party data

Ninety percent of consumers find personalized content very or somewhat appealing, and 74% of marketers report targeted personalization increases customer engagement.

When it comes to email marketing, the same rules of engagement ring true. It has been proven that consumers want to receive emails that are personalized to them and that demonstrate the brand has a strong understanding of what interests them. Content should directly impact the consumer in some way and encourage them to act.

In order to achieve this type of personalization, email marketers need access to data, which is not an easy feat given regulatory pressures and loss of identifiers. This is why having a solid and evolving strategy to collect zero-party data is so critical. In fact, 90% of marketers are actively responding to data depreciation by capturing zero-party data. Consumers expect by sharing their information, they will get an improved shopping experience. In order to effectively collect zero-party data, brands typically need to demonstrate that value exchange. Think about sharing your email address to get a 15% off coupon for your next purchase or providing information about your likes and dislikes when it comes to clothing to get more personalized recommendations. Polls, quizzes, and QR codes, to name a few, at points-of-purchase can also incorporate rewards that give consumers a reason to share their data.

By knowing more about the consumer, email marketers are able to segment them into various groups that have similar traits and characteristics, which really allows personalization to take off and enables brands to target emails more accurately.

Automating your email marketing processes

Email marketers are looking for ways to increase efficiencies across the board using automation. In order for automation to work the way it should, it’s imperative that email marketers have the appropriate data — and formatted correctly — so that they may effectively execute across various email marketing platforms. Oftentimes, companies pull data from multiple sources, which frequently results in duplicates that make automation ineffective. Before implementing automation into email marketing processes, companies first need to ask themselves how they can best merge their data sources to optimize organization. Maybe it’s creating a data warehouse, or data fabric, a set of data services that provide consistent capabilities across a choice of endpoints, to help connect data from across different sources, platforms, and systems, but either way, clean and accurate data is a necessity.

Automation in email marketing provides a number of benefits, the first being that it enables the use of triggers, such as a specific date, event, or contact’s activity to tell their system when to send a message to a consumer. We’ve all received the “thinking of you – here is 20% off to come back” emails when we have not shopped at a store in a while. That is all powered by automated triggers. Automation also enables email marketers to use dynamic email templates, which make it possible for email marketers to personalize already drafted emails quickly and efficiently. When these emails are sent, they are easily trackable and can help inform email marketing campaigns for the future by showing if the consumer opened them, clicked the links, etc.

Another benefit of email marketing automation is that it saves time. With automation, email marketers now have the ability to focus on the most strategic aspects of email marketing, including the creative and messaging.

The exciting part about automation is that, currently, it looks limitless. Could there be a time where a credit card company has the insights to view an individual card holder buying bathing suits, and then through a dynamic, automated process, sends them an email highlighting the credit card company’s promotional partnership with a cruise line? Only time will tell how much of an impact automation can have on the success of email marketing.

Meeting consumers where they are through device and app optimization

At any given time, consumers can open email on laptops, tablets, cellphones, gaming devices, and even TVs – and on various apps on each device. These various access points are important for email marketers to consider when preparing an email marketing campaign.

Email design can be impacted depending on the delivery app and the consumer’s device. Have you ever opened up a newsletter on your Gmail app and the font is a completely different size than it is on your laptop? That’s because the display difference was not taken into account.

Stylistic considerations are important, and even more so when considering accessibility limitations some people may have, including visual, physical and cognitive disabilities. The goal is to improve legibility and readability, allow screen readers to operate efficiently and accurately and make interacting with the email as functional as possible.

Email marketers need to ask themselves “who are my subscribers and how am I maximizing email for the majority?” If they are not investing in accessibility, they may be in danger of alienating sections of their audience.

There are nearly 4.26 billion email users worldwide this year. Email continues to be an effective way to reach consumers – as long as it is done properly. Consumers are evolving and so is the way they want to receive information. Email marketers must keep pace and continue evolving with consumers. Focusing on personalization, device optimization, and email automation are three key ways to reach consumers where they are in the customer journey with messaging that matters to them.