Over the years, many changes to email inbox delivery have been made by ISPs such as Gmail and third party filters such as Barracuda. Every serious email marketer tries to keep up with the changes and figure out ways to get their emails opened and clicked on, and deliverability professionals continually update their toolkits. Trust me, marketers, you are not alone!
According to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), email still has the highest return on investment of any direct marketing channel, with a $39.40 return per dollar spent in 2012 * (Search is second at $22.38). This being said, there are five key aspects of email marketing to pay attention to in the future in order to get a full return on investment of your marketing initiatives. If you can master all of these, or even a couple of them, your marketing efforts will see greater direct response.
#1: Measure and proactively manage user engagement
Engagement is a metric used to determine which customers are interacting – that is, opening and clicking – with your emails. ISPs such as Gmail know who is opening and clicking on your emails; they also know who is viewing emails, and who’s deleting before or after reading. They crunch this data to determine engagement rates. You can do this to collect and analyze your own data, using your marketing automation or email marketing application. Start looking into who is opening and clicking on your emails, and then build a strategy to ensure continued engagement around each. All customers are not equal.
#2: Is your content relevant?
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Content relevancy is just as important as engagement. If your content isn’t meaningful to the customers you’re reaching out to, then your chances of getting into the inbox decrease dramatically. Gone are the days of “batch and blast” and “spray and pray”. Going back to “all customers not being equal”, the message that you serve to them shouldn’t be either. Think of the actions you take when you go through your own incoming email. If the vendor makes the effort to include your name and personalize the message, referring to things you’ve looked at or reviewed in the past, aren’t you a little more inclined to open? Your customers do the same thing.
A great way to serve up relevant content is by using dynamic content in your emails. By creating several different flavors of content, relevant to some specific factor (let’s say a customer’s purchasing behavior), you will increase engagement and conversions. This creates an experience that’s customized specifically for the visitor or reader at that moment. Every potential buyer should be recognized as an individual with unique and evolving needs; dynamic content is one tool in your favor for creating marketing that’s more personalized and tailored to their needs. In order to provide the content relevant to your customers, segmentation is key, and dynamic content makes it easy to use segmentation.
#3: Segmentation is your friend!
List segmentation is the best and easiest way for you to develop relevant and engaging content, thus increasing inbox placement. Segmenting by multiple factors so you can get down to several very focused groups of people is the key to getting the content right – which then results in engagement with the campaign. An easy way to start your segmenting strategy is to begin with very basic criteria such as people who have opened and clicked, or not clicked, on a particular email.
For example, suppose you send out a webinar invitation. Your results will include openers/clickers, and non-openers, and opened-but-didn’t-click. For the openers/clickers who register, you’ll send only two or three more emails: one “thank you” with a calendar insert, and a reminder(s) sent one day and/or one hour before the webinar is to start. For the non-openers and non-clickers, try sending another email with a more relevant subject line and content. You might need to build out personas to better segment your audience.
#4: What is your social presence?
Do your emails include social media icons, such as Facebook, Twitter, etc.? If not, you might be losing out on the easiest click in an email. How many times have you read an amusing subject line, and it just caught you so completely off guard that you had to share it? (I can name several times.) Social icons are ideal in helping to improve inbound traffic as well as building your segments for relevancy. You can tie social clicks back to email campaigns and continue to build out similar strategies in the future. Hey, a click is a click, right?
#5: Design for success
As much as social has taken its stance in the email marketing world, so has designing your emails for mobile. Approximately one-third of company marketers say they have no strategy for optimizing their email marketing for mobile devices, and one-fifth of agencies say their clients have no such strategy, per results from a new reportby Econsultancy and Adestra.
“Simple” and “big” are the two major points to take into consideration when optimizing your emails for mobile devices. The content in the emails needs to be simple and clean. When looking at the email in desktop format, consider what can be removed or moved to your website. Make the call to action button big. This is the most important part of the designing process, as people will be using their fingers to “tap” over to your website instead of a mouse to click on the button.
Make sure to enlarge your font. 12 pixels is a good rule of thumb, as most iOS systems will automatically enlarge it to that size anyway. Another aspect to keep in mind when designing your email (and this goes for traditional emails as well) is to include alt-tags. On most devices, as well as email engines, images are not automatically turned on. Having alt-tags will encourage recipients to turn them on. Mobile design is not hard; it just takes some testing and thorough thinking.
One more thing…
Testing is going to be key with all these factors and it’s an ever-evolving process. I recommend reviewing your company’s email sending practices at least once a quarter and change anything that is not working. With ISPs changing their algorithms every day, marketers need to remain flexible, able to adapt and improve.
Overall, all of these aspects of email marketing play an instrumental part of improving inbox placement and ROI of all your marketing initiatives. The best part about all this is that Act-On Software gives you several of the resources and integrations, enabling you to do all of this within the tool.
Act-On offers a range of professional services to help you improve deliverability and get more leads in the funnel. For more information, read about Delivery Insight or contact us for a discussion about how we can help you reach your specific goals.