With the rise of mobile apps, social media, and artificial intelligence, it is easy to see how other forms of digital marketing may have fallen out of fashion. Marketing coordinators and managers can become so excited about "the next big thing" that they sometimes forget that older, well-established marketing tactics like email are still a great way to engage current customers and generate new leads.
Why has email marketing survived the test of time in an ever-changing digital landscape?
- Mobile devices continue to be the most popular means by which people check their email. Apple’s iPhone Mail app alone accounted for more than 28 percent of all email opens in May 2019, according to the Litmus’ Email Client Market Share Report.
- Email marketing offers straightforward performance metrics and Email Service Providers (ESP) like SharpSpring and MailChimp can create clear, custom reports for you.
- You can tweak and test your email messaging to ensure you’re delivering the right message to the right customer at the right time.
- Regardless of age or gender, US consumers prefer to receive brand offers through email compared to any other channel.
- With recent consumer data protections – see GDPR in Europe and The California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 in the U.S. – contacts on your mailing list will have not only opted into your marketing emails but also confirmed that their address is valid and they want to receive your emails.
- As the benefits of behavioral ad targeting become increasingly murky, email marketers are getting better and better at delivering relevant, personalized content to the inbox.
- For the last two decades, consumers have been trained to turn to their inbox for offers and information from their favorite brands.
Email Marketing ROI
Although oft-eulogized, email marketing remains the most consistent channel for ROI and isn’t showing signs of slowing down.
In 2016, Campaign Monitor reported that the average return for every dollar spent on email marketing jumped from $34 in 2014 to $38 in 2015 and then to $44 in 2016. Litmus confirmed the channel's consistency in 2018, noting that even "average email programs report a ROI of 37:1."
With stable returns year-over-year, it's clear that email marketing is here to stay. Although Millennials and Gen Z are the earliest adopters and most active age groups on social media, more than 3/4 of teenagers regularly use email and consider it to be a part of everyday life.
Email Marketing Best Practices for 2019 and Beyond
The best practices for email marketing have remained relatively unchanged over the years, but new opportunities for personalization, and legislation that limits how marketers can use that data, have only increased the importance of adhering to these best practices.
1. Build and maintain a clean list.
Whether you’ve been building your list for 20 years or 20 days, it’s more important than ever to know who your subscribers are, where they came from, and how they interact with your content. Clean, organically-built lists will yield significantly better long-term results than lists made up of purchased contacts.
2. Take a mobile-first approach when designing your emails.
With 75 percent of Americans regularly checking email on their smartphone, you need to make sure your campaigns look great on the small screen. If you’re just now optimizing your email for mobile viewers, start with a single column layout, keep the copy and calls to action to a minimum, and make sure your images are mobile-friendly (retina-optimized dimensions with small file sizes).
3. Subject lines are king but don’t sleep on preheader text.
Use short, punchy subject lines to get your customers’ attention and then use preheader text to draw them in. This is the perfect spot to include your contact’s name for a personal touch, to give additional offer details, or to ask a tantalizing question.
4. Keep emails short and to the point; nobody likes a blabber.
We’ll let this one speak for itself.
5. Track campaigns to learn what is working best with your target market.
Put your ESP’s reporting tools to work and monitor the campaigns and content that resonate most with your audience. Use these findings to hone future email campaigns.
6. Plan ahead for top sales periods like holidays.
As Ben Franklin said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” While it’s doubtful he was talking about holiday email campaigns, this is the attitude email marketers need to have for peak seasons. An easy way to accomplish this would be to take an hour each month to look back at the last 30 days and see how you can apply what you’ve learned to your campaigns in the next 90 days, six months, and 12 months.
7. Don’t send image-only emails.
All-image emails may look pretty, but sending a campaign without any live-text creates a number of user-experience issues. Not only are your campaigns not searchable, they’re useless for anyone (most Outlook users and as many as 40 percent of Gmail users) who has images turned off, and are inaccessible for the visually-impaired or anyone who uses a voice assistant (looking at you, Alexa) to read their emails to them.
It is important to maintain a well-balanced marketing mix and email marketing is an important piece of the online marketing puzzle. When done right, and in support of messaging on your other digital channels, email marketing continues to be a great way to engage customers and generate leads.
If you need help putting together an email marketing strategy for your business, let us know! Aztek has multiple email marketing partnerships and a team of certified email marketing experts with years of proven success.