Did you know it has been 47 years since Ray Tomlinson sent the very first email via ARPANET? The message was a test email and said something to the effect of “QWERTYUIOP.”

Over the years, we’ve seen marketers take this beautiful tool and use it in various ways to try and reach customers. We’ve seen the flux of unsolicited messages from marketers trying to get a sale by spamming consumers in the 90s. We’ve seen privacy and communications regulations as a response to these unwanted messages, and email marketers adopting anti-spam strategies in the early 2000s. We’ve seen early attempts at behavioral messages starting in 2001, and improving throughout the years.

More recently, the strategy of either purchasing lists or using your own list and sending out an “email blast,” or a mass email has been popular.

My how far we’ve come since those early days.

Thankfully, with innovations in data collection tools and email provider technology, all of the strategies mentioned above are (or at least should be) history. This new age of email marketing works to engage customers with data-driven tactics that ensure you’re only sending messages your subscribers want.

If you find you’re stuck in the past sending out mass emails, a generic newsletter, or have heard little of data-driven email marketing, this post is for you. Let’s dive into why mass emails are a thing of the past, as well as how you can keep up.

Automation is improving relevancy

Seventy-three percent of millennials prefer to connect with brands via email. However, that doesn’t mean millennials, or any other customer base for that matter, want spam, mass email blasts, or even a company newsletter. Rather, subscribers want relevant, highly personalized, and real-time messages from brands.

Upping your email automation game contributes to this desired relevancy. In fact, companies that send automated emails are 133% more likely to send relevant messages that correspond with a customer’s purchase cycle.

While fine-tuning your email automation strategy, it’s also worthy to note that in recent years email automation has carried a “set it and forget it” tone. While email marketing automation will save your team hours and hours of time, increase relevancy, and reach customers in real-time, the new 2018 approach to automation is “review and improve,” according to Research Director, Chad White, at Litmus.

White says this approach is already proven by positive results. Successful programs are 70.2% more likely to A/B test their automated emails at least once a year, and are 94.7% more likely to A/B test transactional emails at least once a year.
Up your game this year by not only automating your messages based on behavioral triggers, but also reviewing, testing, and improving your automation strategy throughout the year.

Personalization and segmentation are charming subscribers

It’s impossible to talk about email marketing without talking about personalization. And, if you haven’t jumped on the personalization bandwagon, here are some proven reasons it’s time to reconsider:

Are you convinced?

Email personalization includes strategies like adding the subscriber’s first name in the subject line, in the copy, and even in images just like the following example from Sephora.

Sephora Email Marketing Personalization

But, email personalization extends much further than those simple, yet meaningful gestures.

Personalize with segmentation

Personalization also includes collecting data on customers, creating customer profiles, and then segmenting lists to send more relevant messages to different subscriber groups. A favorite and simple example lies in the adidas email strategy for announcing new shoe collections.

Adidas segments their lists based on gender. Then, rather than sending their whole catalog to all customers, they send the men’s collection to male subscribers and the women’s collection to female subscribers.

Adidas Email Segmentation

Personalize with dynamic content

You can also use dynamic content to accomplish a similar effect. Dynamic content is where you change a specific part of content to appeal to different customer profiles or subscriber groups.

For example, if you are a large travel company like Flight Centre with a wide subscriber base, you may want to send all of your customers the same update about your company, but switch out travel deals based on the airport closest to each of your subscribers. For this, you can create a different section of content to appear based on the location of each of your subscribers.

Other ideas for email personalization

Segmenting lists and dynamic content are popular ways to use data to create hyper-relevant messages for different subscriber groups, but you still have so many more options.

You can also personalize emails based on automated triggers like sending post-purchase emails with suggestions for similar products and/or offers.

You can personalize emails by collecting customer preference data and sending emails with relevant suggestions (think Netflix’s recommendations list).

You can also utilize personalization by sending an abandoned cart email reminder encouraging subscribers to complete their purchase. Jack Wills is a great example of a brand who sends reminder emails to customers as soon as they abandon their carts.

The abandon cart marketing strategy is especially important considering emails sent within 60 minutes of a cart abandonment have a 40% open rate.

The list goes on. What’s important is staying up to date on the latest personalization tactics and working them into your email marketing strategies.

Email marketing is fostering customer loyalty

In the past, the goal of email marketing was to simply convert a lead into a sale. This idea is more commonly referred to as the marketing funnel.

With all the advances in data collection and email provider technology, the days of thinking of email marketing as a strategy to convert a lead into a sale is dead.

Instead, the new funnel uses email marketing to maximize the lifetime value of loyal customers. The goal is to own the complete journey of the customer life cycle and get those customers coming back over and over again.

For example, Sephora uses email marketing offers to engage regular shoppers as well as VIP members. Shoppers that spend over $200 get exclusive offers and discounts other members don’t receive. This email marketing strategy rewards loyal customers and encourages regular customers to spend more to reach VIP status.

Sephora Email Marketing Offers

Customer loyalty is a particularly important marketing funnel goal considering loyal customers are worth up to 10X as their first purchase, and a 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75%.

With this new marketing funnel, leads can enter at any stage, they can come in random order, and each customer may be enticed by something different. What’s significant is you can use email marketing to entice and nourish customers every step of the way.

Not to mention, email marketing continually remains the leading channel at every stage of this new funnel, according to Senior Director of Acquisition Channels, Samantha Anderl, at Campaign Monitor.

To experience more marketing success, an increase in sales, and a boost in customer loyalty, start using email marketing as a way not just to make a one time sale, but also to create lifetime customers out of your subscribers.

Wrap up

Email marketing really has come a long way over the past 47 years, and it only continues to improve. Mass emails and email blasts may still be popular tactics for some organizations, but after reading this article, you can see why they are now things that belong in the past.

As you keep up with the latest and greatest email marketing technologies, data collection tools, and strategies for increasing relevance, you’ll find that email is working wonders for your marketing goals, that your subscriber lists are more meaningful, and that customers are continually engaging with your brand.