Well, it’s been four months since I officially left my former role as Editor of ClickZ to take on an exciting new challenge as the Head of Content and Communications at Adestra, US. It’s certainly been a fun ride so far and I’ve already learnt so much.
For those of you that know ClickZ, you’ll be aware that it is a broader publication covering the full spectrum of digital marketing– a great backdrop to get to grips with the wider world of digital and how it all fits together. Adestra, on the other hand, has allowed for a new opportunity. One that has enabled me to roll my sleeves up and take a deep dive into a narrower world. (I say narrow, but it is by no means narrow. You know what I mean!) The world of email. And wow, what a world that is!
If there’s one thing that I’ve learned over the past four months, it’s that email really is at the center of it all. I mean, think about it for a few minutes. When you buy a new sweater at an online retail store and get a receipt of your purchase, how does that receipt come? When you book a spot at your favorite restaurant and receive a confirmation of your booking, how does that confirmation come? When you redeem a gift code from a friend for an upcoming gym class (I did this for Pure Barre last week – my abs still hurt. Ouch!), how do you redeem it? That’s right, it’s all about email.
Email is certainly the workhorse that gets the job done. However, the other thing that I’ve learnt is that it can also be the show pony. A new wave of innovation has hit email marketing, bringing the thrills back and making it sexy again. And what better way to mark my first few months in the job, than to share some of these innovations with you.
Here are four exciting email capabilities that are sure to get things a little hot under the collar:
In our fast-moving world, static emails can miss the mark. Dynamic content on the other hand, can automatically change things up a little and add some relevancy, as well as timeliness to your message.
For example, e-tailers can customize content to feature the most up-to-date inventory selections or the latest deals. Let’s picture this: It’s freezing cold outside and Nordstrom have just sent an email about a 50 percent discount on the latest duck down coats (wishful thinking, I know). I’ll take two please!
B2B marketers too, can highlight the latest blog post, breaking news or job listings. A conference organizer can automatically include the most current agenda and speaker announcements, with a ticking timer to when the event starts.
Combining third-party data sources including maps, weather forecasts and travel departure times can add value and interest to an email campaign. An example from dessert brand Blizzard said either, “Brrr it’s cold out!” or “Beat the heat,” depending on the recipient’s location. The email included a real-time weather report tied to that location.
Changing content based on the time of day can enhance performance. For example, a quick-serve restaurant could highlight breakfast deals if the email was opened in the morning and lunch if it was opened closer to midday. I know where I’ll be going. I love a good lunch deal!
Dynamic elements are part of what can make emails so compelling. Countdown clocks, stock tickers and calculators increase users’ engagement.
Content can also be personalized based on a variety of factors influencing the recipient. One example is detecting the device used to open the email. Someone opening it on a desktop or tablet might receive a more browser-like experience, while someone viewing it on mobile will appreciate a mobile-first version with the same content.
Back in 2008, Forrester Research found that including video in an email increased the click-through rate by 200 to 300 percent. Fast forward a few years and with the ever-increasing consumption of visual content, there has never been a better time for marketers to embed video into their emails.
Advances in technology make the experience seamless for recipients, allowing them to consume video within the email instead of asking them to click through to a web or mobile site. You can even set the video to autoplay upon opening.
The key to success is to detect the email recipient’s support for video at the moment the email is opened. If he/she can’t play video, the email can fall back to an animated GIF that still adds visual excitement. Who doesn’t love a good GIF after all?!
Deep linking is a way to connect in-app content with search, browsing and email content. The first step is creating custom URLs within app content that can be accessed externally. This is important because retailers’ apps are becoming an increasingly larger source of conversions.
When a mobile user opens an email and clicks on a link, it is essential that they be sent to a mobile-friendly page featuring that exact content, item or deal. To accommodate those who prefer in-app shopping, you can use smart links that can detect whether an individual email recipient has your app installed. If he/she does, the link will automatically open to the deep link, that is, the correct page within the app, allowing him/her to continue in their preferred mode.
This tactic can dramatically increase conversion. According to Criteo’s State of Mobile Commerce Q4 2015 report, app users browse almost four times as many products as those using mobile websites. They’re also almost twice as likely to add items to their baskets and they bring in more revenue per transaction.
As Jeff Kupietzky, chief executive of PowerBox, told Email Marketing’s Grave, the future of email is providing a full web-like experience from within the email itself. Many email clients already support image galleries, carousels and pop-ups. Let’s include the ability to browse and research products, selecting color and size, setting up shipping and checking out. By the way, all good email marketers will expedite the latter two functions by automatically populating the shipping and payment options with the customer’s preferences, as well as allowing them to be changed.
So there you have it. In the light of the exciting new capabilities rolling out all the time….
…. email is certainly bringing sexy back! (It’s ok, you can dance if you want to — we won’t tell anyone.)