1) What’s a common mistake that you see email marketers make, and how can other marketers avoid it?
Many email marketers are still challenged with using segmentation and personalization to target their messages better. I often see marketers speaking too generally to their audience and not taking advantage of the ability to tailor messages in simple ways to better reach the different segments within their audience. Marketers should always think about their audience as groups of people–not as one single entity. They should use the data they have about their subscriber base–including demographics, geolocation, and purchase behavior–to segment them into several groups. Each group, or segment, should receive different messages and content depending on the specific goals marketers are trying to achieve.
2) What kind of challenges or opportunities will email marketers face in the coming year?
While this is nothing new, a challenge email marketers continue to face is the expanding ways that people consume information. It’s no longer good enough to get an email into a customer’s desktop Outlook client; subscribers are now looking at mail on mobile devices, through Facebook messages and posts, on Twitter feeds, and many more places. Marketers need to develop a broad-based strategy to get messages into consumable formats that customers want to see. This challenge will only get harder in time as more methods of consuming data continue to emerge. Email on desktop should still be an important part of marketers’ strategy, but it can no longer be the only channel they use.
On the other hand, as marketers are able to collect more and more data points about customers, they have a growing opportunity to use this data to their advantage. It’s steadily becoming easier to integrate purchasing data into email marketing systems and then segment the subscriber base using purchasing data or geographical information for more effective targeting. Marketers can augment this data with CRM data from partner companies to help further refine and understand who their customers are. Marketers used to target people as anonymous subscribers, but they can now build a much better picture of who their customers are and what they’re interested in.
3) If you had to describe the perfect email, what would it look like?
The perfect email would start off with an interesting subject line that reminds me that I know the sender and had a previous relationship with this vendor. Something up front that indicates the sender is trustworthy will make me far more likely to open that email and click through to more content. Next, the body of the email would add additional context about my established relationship with that vendor and content tailored specifically to me. Visually, there would be a well laid-out mix of text and graphics with a clear call-to-action. Finally, I would look for handy links to share the email with friends or colleagues who might also be interested–whether that’s social media buttons or a forward link to easily share this with a friend.
4) What was the best piece of email marketing advice that you’ve ever received?
I recently found myself interacting with a piece of email that ultimately lent some helpful marketing advice. I had cruised with Royal Caribbean once before and had been thinking about vacation ideas when I received their message with a promotion for a future cruise. The offer was compelling and only available for a limited time, creating a sense of urgency for my action. I decided to click through and explore Royal Caribbean’s website because their message was timely and the offer resonated with my needs at that moment in time. This experience taught me that email marketers should try to anticipate their customers’ wants and needs and make a compelling offer with a sense of urgency to successfully drive interactions and conversions.