Having worked in marketing automation for a year now and undertaken email marketing as a day-to-day activity, the level of scepticism I experience and read of towards email as a channel of communication moving forward surprises me.
I accept a couple of key threats cited are real – we’re beginning to see a few people moving away from email altogether even for work as well as social communication, and it can’t be denied that email as a medium is inundated with spam (I’ve deleted more than enough for myself). Even so, whilst this second point particularly creates a challenge for email marketers, I firmly believe those who break through the noise hold an opportunity as great as ever.
As email marketing evolves, I see two key components becoming more and more critical in determining success within the medium, or whether your sender address is summoned to trash folder…
- Audience (Targeting)
Particularly in the B2B industry, there still seems to be a culture of buying data to email rather than pushing to develop an organic mailing list. By approaching a data provider for a list of addresses matching a job role persona, in all likelihood you’re going to end up with a database clogged up by new, so-called “leads”, who in reality simply forgot to untick a box during a web signup which granted their email address to be sold to the world. Inevitably, engagement will plummet and unsubscription rates soar.
Instead, why not shift this cash into generating great content of interest that drives traffic to your website? Web users who follow this content are more than likely real leads, and therefore the ones we want to develop a conversation with through email. It’s the behaviour of these individuals that singles them out as real leads.
Gated content is a great example of how to accrue these email addresses. Imagine you’re a digital marketing consultant with a content marketing strategy that centres around thought leadership on all-things digital marketing. Offering an e-book on your site containing an outlook on the industry’s future trends in exchange for an email address would be one way to organically grow your database with genuine leads for your service.
- Trigger Emails
Still today it’s an all too familiar occurrence for campaign managers to work with an agency to develop a high-quality series of email, pull together the database, then blast each email at a moment in time to the whole dataset (possibly weekly or fortnightly) to create an ongoing dialogue, calling this a “nurture”.
In marketing dream world, this is flawless – your whole database is waiting in anticipation for an email from your brand, for that message at that moment in time. Unfortunately not. The truth is that each of your leads is unique, in terms of its product(s) of interest, stage in the buying process and message type that resonates.
This is where the beauty of marketing automation comes in, with its ability to react to behaviours. For example, the lead that downloads your e-book on the industry outlook could be greeted a few days later with a generic digital marketing newsletter, and based on their engagement with this (such as interacting with social media articles), have content tailored to social as the conversation progresses.
I can’t hammer this point home greater than with industry metrics, such as ExpertSender’s research, which presents quadruple open rates and double the clickthrough rates for trigger emails compared with “batch and blast” campaigns. Give your audience the content they are interested in and they will respond!
With the accelerated growth of social media and more and more platforms available, combined with a shifting emphasis towards inbound marketing, it’s understandable why many believe marketing has had its heyday. Hopefully this post has triggered some thoughts in your own mind as to how your email marketing strategy can be adapted to succeed in the years ahead.
I’d love to hear your thoughts by leaving a comment below, and feel free to engage with me on Twitter @TomOakley_.