As data-driven as we claim to be, today’s marketers are still susceptible to what amounts to old wives’ tales. Some of them are relatively harmless, while others derail marketing programs and sabotage ROI.
Several of the most common, and most dangerous, myths that marketers believe involve email. That was one of the prominent themes in our recent webinar: How to Make Email Marketing Work Harder, with Liveclicker Co-founder Justin Foster and Forrester VP and Principal Analyst Shar VanBoskirk.
The speakers named several hazardous misconceptions that abound in the world of email. Take this opportunity to learn the truth about getting more value from your email campaigns, and stop subscribing to these common myths:
Think bigger than immediate conversions! Too often email is relegated to an advertising platform for products, events, and offers. It’s easy to see the channel’s applications as a promotional tool—but it’s capable of so much more: brand loyalty, account management, relationship development, and beyond.
Despite marketers’ efforts to make that breakthrough innovation, performance among email’s most-followed metrics has stagnated.
Part of the problem is that marketers are focusing on the wrong targets. Critically important metrics that correlate to brand favorability, depth of engagement, and loyalty are ignored in favor of traditional performance indicators.
As VanBoskirk explained during the webinar: “If you’re using email to do things like create a customer relationship, help connect a customer from one experience from one experience with your brand to another experience with your brand; if you’re using email to introduce your brand in the same way you might use a more traditional media experience like television, then maybe there are metrics that you’re not even tracking right now that are better indicators of the value that email is bringing.”
The definition of interaction is changing across the digital channels, and email marketers need to change fast to keep up. “You get an email into your mailbox, you open it up, and you have a chance to click on a blue link…and that’s kind of far as we got with the experiential element of email.” Said VanBoskirk. “But everything else in the digital world has become more interactive; much more of a surround-sound experience.”
Think about when you interact with something as simple as a mobile app or website. You can probably pinch and drag and resize it with ease. It probably remembers who you are and caters your experience based on preferences and activity. The enormous majority of email programs don’t even scratch the surface of this basic interactive functionality.
Relevance today means much more than catering content to fit certain personas and demographics. Emails need to take into account the context in which they’re being opened; when, where, and how.
Simple factors like time of day, email client, geo-location, and even the local weather can have a huge influence on a user’s immediate needs and interests when they open an email. There’s also the context of your business at the time of open to consider: available store inventory, live pricing, active sales, and more. Cater to those contexts to improve relevance, delight your customers and build lasting relationships.
Study after study discussed in the webinar revealed that mediocrity has become the status quo across the world of email. Even a poor email program can deliver some of the best ROI in a marketing mix, rewarding complacency and discouraging innovation.
But ambitious, forward-looking marketers can find ways to swim against the current, WOW their customers, and earn success not previously thought possible.
The speakers showed several powerful examples of innovative brands that are pushing the boundaries of email with creative technology-driven experiences (download the webinar deck to see for yourself). They also listed three things you can start doing right away to “hack” your email program and get better results in the long and short term:
Email is a phenomenal direct mail-style promotion platform—and that is getting marketers into trouble. It’s so good at one thing, we’ve often overlook all the other value we could be getting from it.
Start thinking: what if email did something else for you?
What if it played the role of a tv commercial? What if it played the role of a data collection portal? What if it was an ecommerce or customer service platform? Don’t be afraid to get creative and take risks; innovative email marketing technology is making more and more interactive customer experiences possible every day.
Historically, email has served as a gateway to experiences. Marketers would use emails to drive subscribers elsewhere; to landing pages, websites, content, etc.
Try transforming your emails into discrete, complete experiences capable of standing on their own. Instead of sending openers onward where they might drop out of the journey, keep them in one place and give them everything they need to learn, see, engage, and convert right there. Implement dynamic email content elements that update reflexively to real-time data and personalization while minimizing the amount of effort and production time spent crafting these experiences.
Remember that powerful emails come as much from talent as technology. According to VanBoskirk: “What we find from our research is that companies that have more senior email managers tend to have more competitive email programs.” But this is a field of high mobility and turnover, where expertise is highly valued and demand is competitive. Getting top talent, retaining it, and keeping it on the cutting edge is a constant battle.
The webinar featured several suggestions for tenuring a seasoned email program, from reverse mentoring of senior marketing leadership to alternative team structuring and incentive programs. However you choose to approach this challenge, the takeaway is clear: don’t get so focused on new tactics and tools that you lose sight of the human intelligence making it all work.
Need some inspiration? Find real-world examples of these ‘hacks’ at work, plus more insights, in the webinar recording. Click here to watch it now!