According to leading management consultants McKinsey, email has seen a decline in usage of twenty per cent between 2008 and 2012. Marketing professionals have long noticed that email is in decline and that social networks have taken over some of this lost ground. However, although many have refocused their efforts on these new streams, success is mixed and email continues to perform better as a channel in which to develop new business. McKinsey’s iConsumer report demonstrates that email remains forty times as effective as Facebook, for example. Conversion rates are, according to the survey, also much higher with email than on social networks. While email is certainly becoming only one of an increasing number of advertising channels it seems set to remain a significant – and useful – one. However, there are a number of ways in which email marketers need to develop their strategies in the face of increasingly sophisticated consumers.
Starting a Conversation
While it’s fine to obsess over the details of your marketing emails – actually an important factor – the copy, images and call to action in the email are only the first step in a conversion. The email introduces you, or the brand, to your potential customers but it’s only the first step in the process. Increasingly marketing professionals need to refine each stage of the process to cater to the demands of both sophisticated consumers and new technology. Firstly, a perfectly crafted, well thought-out and personalised email that directs the user to a standard homepage is a common mistake.
Landing pages that are relevant to the specific customer are not only likely to be better received but will be far more likely to turn into a sale. Google focuses on offering results that consumers want; so should you. Secondly, estimates suggest that nearly half of all marketing emails are received on mobile devices. The chances are that this will only rise in the future. Optimising landing pages for mobile use is essential and if you haven’t already done it, there’s a good chance that this factor is behind low conversion rates.
How Billions Can be Wrong
Any marketing professional worth their salt – and their high salary – will tell you that standing out is essential. In terms of email marketing this has become rather tricky. Estimates suggest that in the US alone in 2013 over 838 billion marketing emails will reach consumers’ inboxes. Getting personal with your clients is one of the best ways to do this. Sadly, to date, personal has meant the generic “Hi [Insert familiar name here]! Neither the ‘hi’, the personal name nor the exclamation mark stand out, nor are they that well received. Even in an age where social networks afford us the opportunity to not actually meet our friends, this kind of personal approach is not always appreciated. Personalised emails today should be based on previous browsing history or purchases. This can create a lot of work; but the results can be worth it, with many retailers reporting high percentage increases on results when personalisation has been implemented.
Streamlining Your Lists
Building trust on the internet is one of the hardest tasks for any online retailer. Offering consumers the opportunity to opt out of email communications is one counter-intuitive trick that might just be worth considering. Currently most opt outs are hidden, or at least made very discreet, somewhere at the bottom of the message. This is based on the incorrect thinking that if they can’t see it clearly consumers will not look for it. However, the reverse is usually true; in fact by offering the chance clearly and early in the message you’ll lose consumers who would have opted out anyway and streamline your mailing list to the genuinely interested leads. A mailing list of fifty thousand is of very little use if only three of those users ever open your emails; by clearing out ‘dead’ users, you can focus efforts on the live ones!
The Future of Email?
There seems to be little doubt in many marketing firms that Twitter and Facebook will play a much bigger role in the future of Online Marketing. For more advice on that kind of stuff make sure to talk to a business like SocketLabs.com. However, this has yet to be proven and although the research from McKinsey demonstrates that consumers are interacting online in a range of different ways, the revolution in social network marketing is a long time in coming. This may be something to consider in a world where changes are usually so rapid. While social networks are on the rise they are ‘social’ and attempts at marketing during the conversation may not prove as successful as expected. A robust marketing strategy should include social network marketing streams but using a SMTP mail server and email should not be trashed for the foreseeable future.