Digital transformation is at the forefront of conversation these days, and often it seems without a lot of clarity about what that means specifically for email marketing. It’s the Fourth Industrial Revolution, they say — an age that will fundamentally change the way we the way we live, work, and relate to one another. So what does email marketing excellence look like in this new era?
With an average ROI of $44 for every $1 spent, we know email continues to be the single best channel to connect with customers. But there’s no doubt times are changing. Long gone are the days when a batch and blast approach yields results — in the long-term at least. With customer expectations evolving at breakneck speed, and customer perception increasingly shaping sales, the stakes are high.
Email marketing today is a sophisticated technology that requires highly specialized expertise to maximize its potential to grow a company’s client base and business. And while every email program has unique goals and challenges, at Trendline Interactive, we see guiding principles for email marketing excellence that are ubiquitous across industries. Beyond best practices, these 7 keystones can chart a course for email marketing excellence in a continually changing landscape.
1. Privacy is a Priority
As customers demand increasingly relevant and personal email experiences, it’s imperative that deliverability, privacy and compliance experts work directly with email marketing strategists to navigate an increasingly complex email marketing landscape. Standards such as GDPR will likely be followed by similar standards around the globe, requiring companies to rethink how they handle their customers’ data. With customer perception quickly becoming the key driver of sales, email marketing excellence requires honesty, transparency and compliance with global privacy regulations that keep customer information safe and build the trust that will solidify your brand.
2. Strategy Over Tactics
Many email marketers think in terms of tactics – the steps one can take to achieve a particular goal. Sometimes tactics can work, in the short term. More often, however, you end up with a scattershot approach that doesn’t ultimately yield sustainable and repeatable results. Good strategy does. Email marketing excellence requires that you define and articulate what it is you’re trying to accomplish with your email marketing program – your strategy. Once that’s clear, you can build out a plan with clearly defined tactics (aligned with your objective) to drive efficiency and drive growth consistently over time.
3. Operational Efficiency
We see many organizations looking to take their email programs to the next level with testing and innovation, yet lack the foundational efficiency that is going to help them achieve their goals. Email marketing excellence is built on operational excellence. Valuable time hides in workflows that haven’t been documented, standardized and streamlined – time that that can be redirected toward efforts that grow your program. Ensuring you’re set up for success from an operational standpoint will help you improve quality, consistency, efficiency, and most importantly, scale effortlessly as your program grows.
4. Creative Matters
Email marketing excellence requires responsive and thoughtful design, and relevant content that drives engagement with your customers. It’s that simple. If your email isn’t optimized to meet a user where they happen to be at any given moment, it’s the only thing that subscriber is going to remember about your business. Templates not only enable you to streamline processes, ensure continuity, and flawless execution, but also ensure you fully leverage the automation, segmentation, and dynamic content capabilities that drive engagement with your customers and drive value within your organization.
5. Technology Expertise
All too often, organizations are sold (and in some cases oversold) on Marketing Automation Platforms or ESPs with the belief that everything can be done under one roof, with the push of a button, only to discover later that it just isn’t that simple. Often, organizations lack the necessary resources in-house or underestimate the deep technical know-how needed to fully optimize a given platform. Email marketing excellence requires platform mastery to ensure you get the best return on your investment. Beyond that, highly effective email marketing programs likewise draw on a range of cutting-edge tools and data sources beyond the core platforms to ensure a program delivers the best experience for subscribers.
6. Insights Through Analytics
Email program analytics provide powerful insights about your subscribers that should be leveraged across your email program to drive positive consumer behavior, brand loyalty and business growth. But looking at any one source of data in a vacuum can paint a partial, and often misleading, picture of performance. Email marketing excellence requires a holistic approach that gathers data from a wide range of sources to garner a full performance story to help better understand your subscribers, tailor and segment content that drives revenue, ensure cohesiveness across channels, and, most importantly, achieve your overarching program goals. Innovative marketers need powerful reporting dashboards to monitor email program progress, results, and reports in near real-time. This type of reporting not only enables marketers to drive engagement with subscribers, but likewise provides them with tools to gain visibility within their company by evaluating and reporting on their efforts, sharing those findings, and communicating the specific value of their email marketing programs within their organizations.
7. Deliverability Matters Most
Perfect subject lines, glowing personalized content and beautiful design matter very little if your email doesn’t make it to a subscriber’s inbox. Yet many organizations overlook deliverability until it become an issue. Given that 15% of all legitimate email marketing never reaches the inbox, deliverability, privacy and compliance expertise are essential for email marketing excellence, particularly for enterprise organizations with a global subscriber base. Incorporating deliverability into you overall strategy will improve your reach, increase response rates, and attain a higher email marketing ROI as you transform and grow.