In 2011, over 300 billion emails were sent EVERY SINGLE DAY, and over 90% of those were spam. And with average email open rates in decline over the last few years, it is of no surprise that some industry experts are saying that email marketing is dead.
But before the obituary is written, let me tell you why most of the experts, including Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook are wrong.
Back in 2010, Sheryl Sandberg predicted that email was ‘going away’ as a method of communication as more and more people were spending time on social networks and this ‘prediction’ led to further predictions of the death of email marketing in general. What Sheryl failed to mention was that the declining figures that she was quoting were only in the ‘teen’ demographic and in fact, email use amongst the majority of demographic profiles is as healthy as ever.
What is really happening?
In fact in the latest email marketing benchmarking report from the Direct Marketing Association, consumer approval of email marketing is surging with the number of consumers reporting that 50% or more of the marketing emails they receive and are of interest to them has increased over the past year from one in 10 (9%) in 2010, to one in three (30%) in 2011.
What is happening here is that the old style email marketing technique of ‘spray and pray’ or just sending out the same message to as many people as possible is being gradually replaced with a more targeted and segmented approach. The savvy marketers recognised some time ago the need to segment, or profile, their data in order to target their customers better. If you are not segmenting your data now, you should be - or your email marketing strategy metrics will go the way of the dodo!
What is the key?
The key to this improved email marketing approach is relevancy. In order for your customer to want to engage with your brand, your communications to them have to be relevant to them at any given time. What you need to do is work out what is relevant for your different segments of customers and apply that information to as much of your marketing message as possible. In order to do this however, your CRM data also needs to be segments. Segmentation is different for different sectors; you may want to consider segmenting by interest, by purchase, by demographic data or as simple as type of customer. However you segment you should ensure that you have enough personal and relevant information to ensure your communication is specifically targeted at an individual level.
Wise marketers are also savvier about the frequency of the email distribution. You can increase the frequency of your email campaigns if they are more targeted and your metrics are confirming that they are being opened and engaged with. In addition to this consider ‘triggered’ email campaigns either when a customer performs so kind of interaction with you or on specific events. Don’t be afraid to jump on the back of local, national or global events to get your audience to open your emails.
So, as a bit of summarised takeaway, here are some things that you can do to improve your email marketing campaigns:Segment your data – find your ideal segments and start to profile your customers little by little. Use the segments – Once profiled, start to use these in campaigns – think of email as one to one communication rather than one-to-many communication. Experiment with frequency – you customers may want more or less – don’t be afraid to experiment. Add triggered campaigns – use internal and external events as a reason to communicate. Make it social – use social sharing and social integration to make your email communication more appealing.