The world of email marketing is constantly changing. As a recent VentureBeat headline put it: “Email marketing providers: Evolve or die.”

The article highlighted the “growing ecosystem of marketing automation platforms” and their cloud-based threat to traditional email service providers:

According to a recent report, 77 percent of marketing automation users use it in place of an email marketing tool. Only 13 percent use marketing automation in tandem with an email marketing tool.

The reason for this evolution is clear.

According to data from Smart Insights, across all industries, the average email open rate is 22.87 percent and the average click-through rate is a mere 3.26 percent. That means roughly 97 percent of all marketing emails accomplish nothing.

Email marketing must become more adaptive and better tailored to the unique buying stage of each audience member. Not surprisingly, full-scale marketing automation produces on average an 80 percent increase in leads and a 77 percent lift in conversions.

For a brand to survive, it has to invest heavily in three email marketing trends that are proving to be effective.

1. Segmentation

Segmentation means dividing an email list into sections based on either demographic information or buying stage. At its most basic level, segmentation can be based on age, gender, or business size.

But that’s only a start. Marketing automation tools like GetResponse offer a host of advanced segmentation options, most notably characteristics like purchase history, acquisition channel, geolocation, and engagement level (i.e., open and click-through rates).

Creating separate emails for each segment can be time consuming. That’s the motivation for dynamic emails. There are two basic kinds of dynamic emails. First, variable substitution inserts dynamic fields into an email template which represent specific “recipient attributes” like the ones mentioned above. Second, content insertion “enables you to switch out [entire] sections of content — phrases, paragraphs, even images — by inserting different content in different places within the text of your message,” according to a GetResponse blog post.

Because every list contains people in different stages of the buying cycle, a one-size-fits-all approach is incredibly inefficient for both nurturing leads and generating sales. Each recipient’s stage in the buying cycle calls for different levels of interaction and especially different offers and calls-to-action.

The proof is in the numbers. For example, Totes Isotoner Corp. segmented their email marketing campaigns based on the product categories each subscriber visited. The result? A 7,000 percent lift in sales over a 14-month period.

2. Personalization

Personalization is the act of sending emails that reflect the unique traits and interests of the person receiving them.

According to a recent study, personalized emails increase transaction rates and revenue per email 6 times more than non-personalized emails.

The easiest way to start personalizing emails is by including each customer’s name.

But again, that’s just a start.

Hyper-personalization: What customers want, and what they hate
is now available on VB Insight for $499, or free with your marketing tech subscription

Developing detailed personas can also help.

Personas are archetypal models of ideal customers. One of the most effective and simplest approaches is to divide a list into two types: prospects and customers. By personalizing each email based on whether someone has actually made a purchase, you’re able to target current customers with upsells and prospects with free or entry-level offers.

Personalization also means keeping an eye on the clock — in other words, timing your emails. Your mailing list may include people in different countries and time zones. It’s important that emails are sent when they are most likely to be opened. Simply put, don’t schedule emails at 9 a.m. Eastern for everyone in a list. Schedule those emails for 9 a.m. in the recipient’s time zone. Again, this is where advanced tools are essential.

3. Customization

Customizing emails refers to adding a company logo and other design attributes that make it stand out from the crowd.

Distinct color schemes, high-quality and highly relevant images, and a unique brand voice all help to separate your emails from the competition.

For example, high-end clothing manufacturer Ralph Lauren customizes its brand by focusing on a classic style.


Above: Image Source: Shopify

Image Credit: Shopify

Contrast that with Jack Threads, which focuses on a much younger, more price-conscious audience. The subject line of this email was “Seriously. Taxes Blow.”


Above: Image Credit: Jack Threads

Image Credit: Jack Threads

Along with design attributes, you can also customize email by sending discount coupons based on recipient buying history or automated reminders to people who have abandoned their carts prior to completing a purchase.

Evolve or die …

Today, effective email marketing means more than merely sending one mass email to your entire list. The key is to understand that real people, unique individuals, make up that list.

Segmenting, personalizing, and customizing are all proven methods that will ensure your brand evolves instead of dies.

Dennis-MitznerDennis Mitzner is a Tel Aviv based journalist covering startups and tech trends, with a focus on Israel and Scandinavia. He also works with startups to devise content and marketing strategies.

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