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Not long ago, I wrote about our predictions for 2015 and what we can expect to see in the field of email marketing. This time, for the sake of balance, I want to show you a few ideas whose time has passed and should now be thought of in the past tense.
There are areas of internet marketing that are more dynamic than email marketing like online advertising and social marketing, but the email variety is also in a constant state of change - there are new trends, some things become fashionable and others start to be forgotten. Let’s take a look at the ones that have lost their shine…
1. Static and homogeneous email marketing
As recently as a year or two ago, many people associated email marketing with the sending of a single message to an entire database. Things are different now. Modern email marketers adapt their message to their subscribers. Segmentation of databases, dynamic content, message automation with autoresponders - these are the essentials of email marketing today.
Implementing these tools takes a bit of time. You will need to conduct a careful analysis of your database and you might need more out of your programmers and graphic artists but the investment is worth it. According to research conducted by eMarketer.com, using base segmentation for personalized content produced the following results - 39% of marketers said their open rate increased, 24% said their income increased, and improvements were seen in other areas as well - sales leads and deliverability (24% for each), retention rate (21%), number of transactions (18%) and an increase in the number of new customers (15%).
Another survey, this time conducted by Forrester, shows that marketers that segment their bases can increase their conversion rate by 355% and their income by 781%! Is there any doubt that you need to segment your database and personalize your emails if you’re not doing it already?
2. Analysis based only on open rates and CTR
In email marketing, two metrics have long dominated the measurement of the success of a campaign - the open rate (OR) and the click through rate (CTR). I’m not going to tell you that they are no longer important - they definitely are - but it’s important to stress that they are by no means that only aspects of your campaign reports that you need to monitor. By focusing too much on the OR and CTR, marketers can lose sight of the bigger picture and fail to take advantage of other important pieces of feedback based on subscriber actions.
If you haven’t yet integrated Google Analytics with your FreshMail account and haven’t started tagging links you place in your messages, get started on it today. This is how you gain access to insights that help you to see what changes you need to make to get the most out of your campaigns. Read about the numbers and stats that you need to pay attention to here.
3. Overuse of the recipient’s name in the subject line
Ok, this tricked worked and sometimes it still works but remember two things:
- after some time, people can develop a tolerance for anything. Well, almost everything…
- if everybody does it, then everybody becomes the same and no one is standing out by doing it
These are the lessons to be learned from the trend of using the recipient’s name all the time in email subject lines. There was a time when everybody did it, when every message seemed to begin with “Dear Dave” or “Hey, Dave!” or “Dave, we have a special message for you” or some other similar variation.
Personalization is still an effective tool but you need to use it selectively, with a purpose and, most importantly, with some imagination. The first name of your subscriber is not the only basis for personalization you have at your disposal. Mix it up and use things like the last date of purchase (“We haven’t seen you since December!”) or the type of purchase that was made (“We hope you are enjoying your new laptop”). Watch out - the jump in your open rate is going to surprise you!
4. Signing messages with a false identity
There used to be a strong belief that using someone’s name in the sender line increased the email open rates. So the practice spread and spread until almost everyone did it. But whose name was used? Well, in most cases it was unclear - who knew who “John from Company X” or “Lisa from Company Y” was? Just was with other trends, it may have worked well at some point but when everyone does it, the novelty disappears quickly.
So how can you resurrect this strategy to make it work again? Try switching an unknown, uncertain identity for a clear and established one. Have someone from your company send a welcoming email with their real identity, who they are and how they can help the customer. No need to make up fake people when real ones can easily communicate personally with subscribers. See for yourself - it works!
5. An avalanche of pop-ups everywhere and all the time
Using pop-ups with a newsletter subscription sign-up form is one of the easiest, cheaptest and most effective ways to build your address database. You can generally divide marketers into two groups - those who think that pop-ups just scare or irritate visitors to a site and those who use pop-ups indiscriminately as the best way to get new subscribers. The first group misses out on adding new names to their database, while the second groups gets lots of new additions to their subscriber lists but at the cost of alienating lots of visitors to their websites.
Both groups can get more out of pop-ups by using them in a smarter way. Arrange your pop-ups to display at most two times for each unique user so as not to bombard the same person over and over long after it’s clear they are not interested. Also, set your pop-up to appear some time after someone comes to your site - say, after 30 seconds or after clicking on a sub-page - so visitors are not immediately confronted with your request for their email address. Make sure that users already signed up to your newsletter don’t get more pop-ups asking them to join a list they’re already on - what’s the point of that? Also, make it easy to close your pop-up and force anyone to grab a magnifying glass to look for a tiny “close” icon.
It’s little, common sense things like these that can make a world of difference and turn pop-ups into a powerful tool for expanding your address database.