Zoda Design Blog
The Road to Your Front Door Begins at Their Inbox
A few years ago, conventional wisdom seemed to hold that email marketing would give way to social media. After all, folks reasoned, why would anyone want to be bothered with an email when they could find the company they wanted, whenever they wanted it, on any number of new and trending social platforms?
The answer is that unlike social media, where marketing messages regularly get lost in the shuffle of selfies, email marketing still excels at cutting through the clutter to deliver a message directly to your potential customers who are interested in your products or services. If you are using it correctly, email marketing also delivers just the right message at a critical time in a potential customer’s decision-making process.
But can you keep using email marketing the same way you’ve always done so and expect to get the same results? The answer for 2016 and beyond is a definite no. Here are a few ways the experts expect email marketing to evolve and how you can take advantage of them now.
Grow Your List
The best way to get your email in front of more people is to add more people to your email list. One of the best ways to do that is popping up right on your website in the form of lightboxes. Also known as pop-ups, these on-screen boxes actually get people to sign up 5 to 10 times more than a traditional email sign-up form. One reason is because they are such a prominent call to action that they are difficult to ignore. (As opposed to a potential customer having to search through your site for a contact us page or an email sign-up button.)
Two of the emerging best practices are to set lightboxes to pop up when the viewer’s cursor scrolls off the screen and back to the browser. These “exit overlays” work well on desktops, because they don’t pull the viewer away from what they are reading on your site. The downside is that since there are no cursors on cell phones, you may be missing a substantial number of viewers. Another alternative is to place the lightbox based on where a viewer is on your site or have it pop up depending on the amount of time they spend on your page. While this option is a bit more intrusive, it works well with both mobile and traditional desktop website viewers.
Cut Your List
It may seem counterintuitive, but you want to eliminate people from your list who are not engaged. Why? Because some Internet Service Providers (Google, Yahoo, etc.) look at how your emails are received to determine whether they go into recipient’s inboxes or spam folders. So if your emails to someone are either bouncing or have not been opened in several months, it’s time to remove them from your list before you reputation is damaged.
Segment Your List and Personalize The Experience
Your customers are different; the emails you send them should be, too. Different messages resonate with varied audiences. When you set up your email lists, take the time to differentiate. You may have different lists or sublists based on age, gender, occupation or geographic area. This works well even for small local retail businesses. For example, you can send your local customers a great weekend sale offer, and vary it to include free shipping for your out-of-town fans.
Just remember that lists don’t have to be static. They can be fluid based on which email offers a particular customer responds to. If you send them a free shipping offer and they take you up on it, save them to a sublist for “free shipping” and come back to them later with another similar offer.
Track Your Success
How do you know an email is working if you don’t track its success? Most email programs these days track opens and clicks for you, and you should definitely take advantage of that information. Yet advanced email marketers take the next step to track results. There are free tools available through Google Analytics that allow you to customize URLs to track individual campaigns and links within those campaigns. Taking the time to obtain these and then building them into your emails allows your webmaster (or you) to quickly and easily see where viewers are coming from and which emails are getting results.
An astonishing 66% of all emails are now read on smartphones. This technological shift virtually ensures that if you are using older email templates that force recipients to scroll, your message won’t be read. That’s why it’s essential to work with a design firm that understands mobile marketing, designs your emails and templates to look good and function well across a wide variety of platforms, and is there to help you through it all.
Integrate with Social
This last item is an ongoing trend, but it is best used with caution. Of course, you want continuity of messaging across platforms. It also goes without saying that if you have devoted the time and effort into creating a social media campaign or an email campaign, one should feed off the other. What you want to be careful of are automated programs that promise to link them all for you seamlessly. Automated links don’t always pull emails into social platforms in the manner in which you would prefer, and social postings rarely work well in email form. Take the time to do each correctly, and you’ll be much more pleased with the results.
No matter which of these trends you choose to implement in your email marketing campaigns, make certain that you work with a design firm that understands them and takes the time to get to know your business and your unique goals.
Writer & Guest Blogger
Trish Stukbauer is a writer and editor from Charlotte, NC, who is a guest blogger on Zoda Design. Trish has a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Kent State University. She was editor of several magazines before launching her own marketing firm and has a new book coming out in 2016. Check out her website or shoot her an email.