Even in an age where there are more channels than ever to reach consumers, specific marketing strategies remain vital. This is certainly the case with email marketing. The data has been circulating for a while, and it says that email marketing, on average, enjoys a 30% return on investment according to a Data & Marketing Association report.

In some circles, that’s a conservative figure. The good folks at the Balance are even more sanguine on email marketing, reporting that this tactic has as high as 4300% ROI.

However, before we start counting our click-through rates, it’s important to understand that potential for returns means little unless you’re implementing your strategies the correct way. In email marketing, that means staying on top of current best practices.

Here are some of the most effective practices that all businesses should be implementing in 2018.

Segmentation and personalization

Generalized email blast campaigns may have sufficed in the early years of digital marketing, but we have more tools at our disposal now. Namely, data aggregation allows us to segment our audience right down to the individual. The days of mass dissemination of a single email, with a single message, with no personalization, are over. Of course, your subscribers still want rich emails (that’s why they signed up), but they want the content to speak directly to them. In short, they want dynamic content.

Now you can market straight to the person most likely interested in your product or service. According to a marketing industry census compiled by Econsultancy, segmentation was listed as the highest priority tactic for 2017. Even so, it was only a 1% increase in popularity from the previous year, meaning many organizations have yet to implement. Make sure your operation doesn’t make the same mistake in 2018.

Be sure to personalize your messages—long gone are the days of just adding the recipient’s name to a subject line. Utilize all data at your disposal like customer behavior, demographics and purchase history to craft a personalized email message just for them.

Studies show that using a personalized subject line increases email open and reply rate by 16% and 3% respectively but long gone are the days of just adding the recipient’s name to a subject line. Utilize all data at your disposal like customer behavior, demographics and purchase history to craft a personalized email message just for them.

Mobile optimization  

Litmus looked at a sample of over 13 million opened emails in 2016 and found that 54% of them were read on mobile devices. Another study by Adestra found that over 70% of recipients disregarded the email altogether if it didn’t look good on their mobile device. The result is that more businesses are optimizing email for mobile devices—as yours should be doing.

Just like having a mobile-optimized site counts as a crucial ranking factor on SERPs, the same can be said for mobile email. If you offer slow-loading, non-optimized emails, inevitably they’ll have poor engagement. So be sure to implement responsive design, keep your subject lines to 50 characters or fewer, and ensure your CTA buttons are big enough to tap with a finger.

Video

Hubspot has all kinds of statistics showing that consumers love video content—and they’d like to see more of it in their emails. This isn’t lost on most marketing companies, many of whom now have in-house video production departments. For those who want to take advantage of this trend in 2018, be sure to:

  • Include short, concise video content
  • Keep file sizes small
  • Ensure the videos are shot professionally and are of the highest picture quality
  • A/B test your marketing video to ensure it lands

The sky’s the limit with how you can implement video in your email strategy. Maybe you’d like to include an animated GIF to enhance the overall design of your email. Feel-good shoe company TOMS did just that with their “Love is in the Air” email campaign.

Or maybe you’ll be inspired by online video platform Vidyard, and want to follow their breathtaking example of email video personalization. One of their campaigns involved sending subscribers emails with highly personalized videos. The video not only featured the recipient’s first name written on a whiteboard but audibly spoken by the host as well.

Mailable Microsites

“Microsite” is a buzzword getting a lot of traction this year, and for good reason. Basically, a mailable microsite is an interactive email with a mini website embedded in the body. The obvious benefit to this kind of marketing is that it smashes the click-through barrier by allowing the recipient to browse a site right from the email.

People love interactive content these days. By including such microsites as interactive surveys, gamification, social shares, gifs and animations, rotating banners, or sales countdowns, you’re helping to retain your customers by engaging them more. If you still aren’t sure what this should look like, check out these great t examples of interactive emails.

Integrating social and email marketing

One of the best ways to boost any email contact list is by linking your social and email strategies. This goes to the heart of integrating your strategy across various channels. Moreover, it defines the holistic view of digital marketing as championed by the biggest brands.

To achieve this requires first getting your social and email teams on the same page. You’ll want to ensure their calendars sync up with your project management tool. Then promote the actual social channels (and any attendant incentives, contests or discounts) via the email marketing. Then go vice-versa by encouraging people to sign up for your email subscriber list through the social media channels.

And remember, YouTube is one of the most dominant social media platforms out there. So, harkening back to the subject of video content, by incorporating videos from your YouTube channel into your emails, you can boost engagement while combining two strategies.

Data validity and reliability

In the realm of B2B marketing, the concept of maintaining up-to-date email contact lists is paramount. And in a world where many digital nomads change jobs the way some people change shoes, this can be tricky to achieve. Radius performed an experiment in 2016 where they monitored 10,000 CRM contacts over a four-month time span. By the end of the term, almost 8% of the entries were invalid. Those folks had either moved, changed jobs, or were generally incommunicado.

You can only expect that trend to continue in 2018, therefore, the solution is to stay on top of your data. Failure to do so could likely result in more undeliverable emails, which translates to higher bounce rates, which could end up getting you dropped from your email automation tool.

Optimize send frequencies

It’s easy to take the positive correlation between email send frequencies and revenue too much to heart. Many businesses do, opting to boost their frequency and then they wonder why people are unsubscribing from their list. The reality is simple: too much of anything is a bad thing. The number one reason recipients opt out of an email list, or even report it as spam, is because they feel they are receiving too many emails from that brand.

So how do you find the sweet spot between too few and too many emails? It depends on your business and its expectations. But setting up an email preference center, where customers can offer feedback and update their email preferences, is a great start.

Respect personal data

This is a highly nuanced concept that marketers are going to need to grasp in 2018—it goes right to the heart of email personalization. That’s because in recent years we’ve seen some rather unwieldy use of data mining. People like marketing that speaks to them; they don’t like marketing that uses so much of their personal info that it feels like Big Brother is watching.

The lesson: don’t be intrusive in your quest for greater personalization and segmentation. It could likely backfire.

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