What’s Hot (And Not) In Email Marketing

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Email is approaching its 30th birthday and has never looked better.

With this milestone, I started thinking about some trends I see that are hot, and ones that simply are not. I’d love to hear your thoughts as well!

1. Individual-level messaging

It’s not enough to segment by demographics on a higher level; consumers expect personalized messages. What I mean by individual-level messaging is each message a subscriber opens is tailored to them. This can be based on purchase history, store visits, loyalty programs, “Because you read…” messages, the list goes on and on.

Another trend in this same framework is real-time responsive emails. Email content doesn’t have to be locked in before the send. It adapts to the reader upon the opening of the email. These types of email have proven to give the highest ROI.

The not-so-hot side of this level of personalization is the creepy factor. Some audiences are more receptive to this individual-based messaging, but others get weirded out. Just because you have the capability to do so, doesn’t mean it’s always the best option.

2. Triggered emails

Sending an email automatically that is based on a specific behavior from the consumer results in open rates that are 2.5 higher than run-of-the-mill marketing messages. Triggered emails combine relevance and timeliness, two factors that are crucial in marketing efforts these days. One down side to triggered emails is consumers aren’t always forgiving when an email “mis-triggers”.

Triggered emails can also backfire when the call-to-actions are not a behavior this consumer would usually make. For example, I received an email about an abandoned shopping cart that not only asked me to complete my purchase, but also asked me to check out their sister store’s site, which happened to be a children’s clothing store. I’m not currently a mom and my purchase history with this company wouldn’t have proven otherwise.

3. Mobile-based designs

Responsive design isn’t anything new in the web development world, but responsive email design isn’t always top of mind when it comes to strategy. You should always consider the audience of your email when initially discussing design. Is it an audience that prefers reading email on their phone? Then design for mobile first, then work up to tablet and desktop, and vice versa.

There are some people out there that have adopted responsive email design, but have not adopted messages optimized for mobile. This is where the “what’s not” comes in to play. While today’s audiences have been conditioned to scroll for more information, there is such thing as too long of an email. Trying to get the same message across in an email that was designed for desktop isn’t always going to work for mobile. Think and test before you send to your full subscriber list.


John Young

Vice President of Business Development

October 16, 2014

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