Email's Not Dead: How Marketers are Changing the Way They Spread the Word

By: Jamie Cain

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Image Source: Unsplash

Having worked in email marketing for eight years now, I am sometimes asked, why email? I was on an interview about three years ago and was asked why I wanted to continue to work in email when it was a dying industry. I considered my response and said exactly how I felt: Email isn't dying. It's inexpensive, easy to use, and has endless potential. It's also constantly changing, most notably with traditional batch and blast messages no longer being relevant.

If you are unfamiliar with the term, these are generic templates such as a weekly or monthly newsletter that goes out to everyone on your email list, irrespective of their past purchase history, browsing behavior or engagement with your email program.

Continuing to email your customers batch and blasts doesn't just cause you to lose out on revenue, but it also lowers your deliverability rates. To put it simply, emailing your customers without asking them what they would like to receive or paying attention to their behavior will not only lower your engagement metrics (open and click through rates), but also can put you at risk of getting blocked or filtered to the spam folder by Internet Service Providers (Gmail, Yahoo, etc.). An ISP may filter your mail to the spam folder because they can see that every week or maybe even every day you are sending the same email to the same customers and they consistently ignore them. Maybe even some of these customer's mark your mail as spam which is more dangerous to your reputation than an unsubscribe request. If a high enough percentage of your list is going to the spam folder, your mail will start to get blocked, which makes all of the work you are doing worthless.

Fortunately, there are a lot of new and inventive ways we can better connect with our customers, stepping away from the batch and blast mailings. A few of these include personalization, segmentation, and geo-targeting, which I will go into more detail about below.

Personalization

Many brands are starting to use personalization in their email marketing efforts to create an overall more positive experience for each subscriber. Some common examples are:

  • Sending triggered emails based on site behavior. If a customer adds a number of items to their shopping bag, but does not make a purchase, you have an opportunity to send them email alerting them that one of those products is almost out of stock or that it has dropped in price.
  • Customizing recommendations based on purchase or browsing history. A customer shopping online at a home good store recently purchased a new quilt. You can use this opportunity to send them a recommendations email with other bedding accessories that are on sale.

Segmentation

Segmentation is key in order make your message relevant to your database. This will not only increase your engagement metrics, but mitigate the risk of someone marking your email as spam or hitting unsubscribe. Use your preference center or even your sign up form to gather more valuable information about your subscribers. This can be as simple as using a subscriber's date of birth in order to send triggered birthday messages. Do you sell products specific to a certain gender or age group? The more information you can gather about your subscribers, the better opportunity you have to apply deeper segmentation.

Geo-Targeting

Location is crucial to delivering your customers pertinent content. Geo-targeting achieves that goal by delivering your message using geographic information about each subscriber. Making an offer or sale relevant to a person's physical location can greatly increase conversions. For example, if you live in NYC but are on vacation in San Francisco, it would be more beneficial for you to receive an email with a map to the closest store at your current location. This is also useful for location-specific events or promotions. Another useful way to target customers is through weather targeting. Seeing that rain is in the forecast in a particular city and promoting a rainy weather product will create a better sense of brand loyalty from that customer.

By incorporating personalization, segmentation and geo-targeting into your email program, you can vastly increase your deliverability rate, engagement metrics and revenue. This will also create a much stronger sense of brand loyalty with your subscribers. While applying these approaches will take a little more time and effort than the standard batch and blast messages, the rewards will be invaluable to your business.

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Jamie Cain is an experienced digital marketer with both client-side and agency experience having spent over 8 years in the field; specializing in email, deliverability and CRM. Her email marketing and deliverability expertise has been featured by Return Path, here. Find more about Jamie on her Linkedin page.

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