Much like the human race, marketing is in a perpetual state of evolution and adaptation. Unlike the human race, marketing is also in a constant game of catch-up to the tech world’s own evolutionary process. Electronic mail has come a long way since the first ever mass email (sent by Gary Thuerk, a Marketing Manager at Digital Equipment Corp, back in 1978, in case you were wondering). During the 90s, email marketing first began to take shape, but the lack of widely available internet meant mass digital marketing didn’t take off until the next decade. Unfortunately, when it did, companies soon realised they could send ‘digital junk mail’ to both potential customers and total strangers with less expenditure than traditional marketing channels.
The dawn of the ‘spampaign’
New legislation was introduced to stem the tide of unsolicited emails but to little avail. The Data Protection Act, introduced in 1998, added a clause that meant every company had to offer an opt-out from their mailing list. The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations act was introduced to Europe in 2003 to draw up a clearer list of email marketing decorum, but even this failed to make a dent in the mass of daily junk mail. It wasn’t until 2004 and the introduction of the Sender Policy Framework (SPF) that users began to gain some control over what landed in their inbox. The SPF was designed to identify the IP address of a sender, making it easier to qualify if the mail was spam. Since then, new technologies have been incorporated allowing users to identify and block spam with just a few clicks, but even this hasn’t deterred everybody.
In 2009, Return Path reported nearly 30% of commercial emails sent to users didn’t even reach an inbox. The internet was changing, but marketers were reluctant to give up on already entrenched email marketing habits. So companies continued to send out mass emails in the hope the scatter-gun approach would yield at least a few new customers based on odds alone. The days of blanket advertising should be over, but marketers still persist in the ‘one size fits all’ approach. Not only does this make opening your inbox in the morning a chore, it makes it harder to trust brands that have been guilty of an indiscriminate marketing campaign in the past.
Say goodbye to spamming
Not all the arguments against blanket marketing are based on how it will affect your brand image. Most email services now have comprehensive spam blockers in place to prevent this kind of aimless advertising making it through. Applications like Gmail are continually updating their spam blocker to keep inboxes free from unwanted mail. When this technology was first introduced, marketers had to figure out a way around these spam filters. So far, the results have been mixed. Many companies have struggled to retain an appropriate brand image while still making it past the filters. That’s in large part down to the sheer amount of time required in personalising each email, and that’s where modern technology can help. With Clemmie, users only receive the content relevant to them, and each new interaction with an InSite brings an even greater level of detail specific to the client.
Adopting AI & marketing automation
More and more marketers are turning to AI to engage with potential customers on a more personal level. We’re not yet at the point where it’s impossible to tell if it were sent by man or machine, but AI has made real inroads in enabling companies to contact large groups with personalised marketing content. With email marketing technology now used by 82% of B2B and B2C companies, it’s imperative that companies embrace advances in technology, such as the AI automation of sending times. A 2013 Marketing Effectiveness Study by the Lenskold Group found that companies who send automated emails are 133% more likely to send relevant messages that correspond with a customer’s purchase cycle. So just how far will AI go? In fact, the days where marketing can be tailored to meet the needs of an individual are already here; AI technology is slowly taking on the role of content creator, courier and feedback connoisseur.
Email automation has enabled a much more precise approach to marketing, but it still requires a human touch to add ensure the content isn’t too clinical, and that’s where dynamic content comes in. Dynamic content aims to create a more reciprocal experience for the consumer through constantly editing HTML content based on the user’s previous interactions with marketing material. So, if you search for a product on a B2C website like Amazon, subsequent emails received from Amazon will feature similar products. Thankfully, more marketers are beginning to realise the static, ever-changing nature of consumer’s requirements and are tailoring email correspondence to suit these needs.
Making the most of the metrics
It’s not just a person’s browsing history that can influence the content they see. By using analytics tools like Google’s, marketers can see a recipient’s location and tailor the email to include local events, or alert them to the nearest collection points. Tech-enthusiasts and marketers alike are predicting that one day every interaction we have with organisations, no matter how innocuous, will be completely tailored to an individual’s metrics. Analytics are fast becoming the most valuable asset to company revenue, so it’s vital firms understand how to utilise the data effectively. In the meantime, marketers are waking up to the need for content that is relevant to each specific user, and quality is finally taking centre stage over quantity.
Transactional emails=brand loyalty
Transactional emails are one of the best ways to engage with consumers because they are triggered to be sent out when an individual performs a pre-selected action on your site. Most marketers are only just beginning to appreciate the value of these emails to customer loyalty and the high conversion rates they inspire. After all, the open rates for transactional emails are 8 times higher than other emails. They’re easy to implement, highly personalised, drive revenue and they’re sent not as spam but in response to a request on behalf of the recipient. What’s not to like?
Moving into mobile
According to a study by Campaign Monitor, about 53% of emails are opened on mobile devices. The number of emails opened on mobile devices increased by 30% from 2010 to 2015, and around 60% of online adults in the US and the UK use at least two devices each day. With email also bringing in the biggest ROI for marketers, it’s clear the future lies in engaging with a mobile population through their email with personalised content. It’s vital that marketers hit the right note instantly, particularly when you consider that 87% of clicks come about when a recipient opens the email for the first time. With 75% of Gmail users accessing their accounts via mobile devices, marketers can’t afford to not optimise their content for the mobile generation.
The Clemmie revolution
As technologies evolve, so too do the needs of the marketer. The hot ticket for anyone working in tech today is assimilation. Just as the mobile phone has slowly integrated other technologies, software capable of merging multiple functions is now becoming a must for marketers. Clemmie works as a marketing tool, allowing you to create personalised mini websites that can be sent instantly to a prospective client, shareholder or colleague. Clemmie’s real value, however, lies in the metrics it provides after your chosen recipient accesses their unique mini-site. This enables the marketer to gather all the necessary information needed to improve client communication, such as how long clients spent on site, how many times they shared it and what content stood out. We’ve talked before about the value of small data when it comes to platforming new content, but it can apply to almost any public aspect of a brand. With personalised email messages improving click-through rates by an average of 14% and conversions by 10%, marketers need to seize every possible opportunity to personalise their content.
The simple truth of email marketing is there is no one way to implement it effectively, but there are a thousand ways to do it wrong. The current pace of technological change means the only way marketers can hope to stay on top is to constantly adapt their campaign methods according to what works best at the time. The methods may change, but the goal will always stay the same; to understand what clients want and how to give it to them in the simplest way, engage with them and ensure you’re meeting their needs that will encourage them to come back again and again. Advances in technology are allowing us to do this in ways we previously never thought possible, but it’s down to the marketer to use this technology to give their brand the platform it deserves.