Email marketing is at a unique moment in time.
We’re observing email marketing platforms developing to the cusp of sophistication while at the same time the concept of email overall is returning to its roots:
- More automation perfecting personalization.
- More focus on “what’s next” for customers rather than “what happened” the last time they purchased.
- Plain text making the recipient feel more intimate with the sender rather than seeing a bunch of stylized HTML code.
Personalization and Automation
The art of personalization in email marketing is evolving.
Consumers are no longer wowed by their email newsletters beginning with their name.
They want to be spoken to directly…but the volume of email even a small business sends out makes it impossible to craft individual emails to each recipient of your newsletter. This is where the sophistication of automation comes into play.
Customizing the individual’s experience at scale has proven challenging in the past. No longer. With data science analyzing human behavior and predictive marketing categorizing whole segments of consumer groups, personalizing marketing emails to recipients will change.
Just in time, too.
Consumers more than ever want to know what’s coming, rather than what they’ve already experienced.
Amazon and Netflix are particularly skilled at this. “Because you searched for” recommendations are now expected by consumers who are looking for their next purchase experience. Being able to automate these moments through all touchpoints of the customer buying cycle will become key to keeping up with the evolution of modern day email marketing. The result will be automatic contact with customers who feel they’re being personally looked after because your business has their interests at heart.
Targeting and Retargeting
You’ve heard it before: segment your subscriber lists.
There’s nothing worse than opening an email about an event a favored brand is hosting…on the other side of the country.
Not only do your customers feel like they’re missing out on something exciting, in the information age, your business should know Californians aren’t going to make it to your event in New York by dinner time.
Keeping your subscriber lists segmented by location and other relevant data is just good business.
But it’s also wise to revisit your segmentation every six months or year. People move. Others expand their hobbies. Still more are on a journey of self-improvement.
If you’re an outdoor equipment retailer, you’ll be able to tell by your customers’ search and purchase history if they’ve switched from rappelling to mountain biking, and you can steer your emails to their new hobby.
Retargeting your customers at increments lets you know of key behavior changes and you gain the opportunity to join them on a new journey.
If a yarn shop owner notices a long-time knitter has purchased a book on learning to spin their own wool, adding them to your subscriber segment on spinning will help when it’s time to advertise new spinning class for beginners. Don’t put people in a category and just forget about them.
People are dynamic, and their interests change over time. If you change with them, they’ll stick with you rather than moving on to a competitor.
Back to basics
There’s a reason the classics remain classics—they work.
For example, when I’m scrolling through my Facebook feed, I stop more to read text than I do clicking on videos or following links. That’s because I’m interested in what my friends are actually saying.
That hasn’t always been true of how I check my social media.
Pictures used to grab my attention until pictures became the go-to way businesses were advertising. Then it was memes, until Facebook created a simple way to meme a status update, and businesses hopped that bandwagon. Promoted posts got very meme-y, and I ignore them now.
Now, I’m back to reading a paragraph (or several) because I’ve learned that means my friends are talking and I care more about what’s going on with them than any other reason to be on social media.
This could just be me and my impatience with being sold to via Facebook. But then, I do it when reading emails, too. If I open a newsletter I’ve signed up to receive, I’m much more likely to read text now than look at a load of pictures advertising the business’s wares with a bunch of links to their website.
Visual overload is a thing, and text has become more personal.
Someone sat down to carefully write out something important. It doesn’t matter that it’s coming from a business. It’s a business I’ve signed up to interact with, and someone on their staff thinks the company’s upcoming products and services are pretty neat. Maybe I will, too.
Plain text has come full circle in a way I wouldn’t have expected when html designed emails originally caught my eye. It can feel like a modern day handwritten letter. I don’t know what I’d do if I received an actual USPS-delivered letter in the mailbox. It’s been so long since I’ve seen anything like that.
Today’s data driven analytics, predictive tools, email marketing platforms, and automation is more complex and complete than ever before. This gives email marketers the ability to craft more individualized, targeted messages at a scale we just weren’t capable of before. We can make our customers feel cared for, listened to, and like less of a commodity than at any point in the past. It’s this precision form of marketing—and email communication is the perfect medium to perform it—that will continue to earn not only customer loyalty, but customer advocacy.