The 2017 Email Industry Census has highlighted yet again that agencies use a more varied range of email marketing practices than their brand-marketer counterparts, which results in increased channel performance levels. Earlier this year Adestra published a paper which looked at the strategies that supply-side marketers use. It also included interviews with six email experts from the agency world to dig deeper for the roots of success in this sector.
Despite its longevity and often-quoted ‘unsexiness’ as a marketing channel, email is still considered one of the key tools for increasing customer lifetime value. Not only that, but our interviews with agency marketers revealed that technology innovations along with high returns on investment are fuelling a re-birth of email, placing it at the heart of the digital marketing landscape.
“At the moment, there isn’t a channel to replace email and it’s going from strength to strength.” – Greg Caswell, Karmarama
Managing data effectively is the key to reaping rewards
20 years after Michael Cox and David Ellsworth first referred to “big data” in their paper as the limitation of processing large volumes of data, marketers are still trying to wrap their heads around an effective way of managing the data (“big” or otherwise) available to them. It’s perhaps to no surprise then that the number one challenge in using more personalisation is integrating data, cited by 43% of agency marketers (2017 Email Industry Census).
There might not be one almighty solution, but it seems that practitioners and companies who have found a way to make data work for them recognise it as the way to also make email shine.
“Increased frequency even further flooding inboxes has been the biggest change this year, but more use of data, transactional triggers and dynamic content should help us stand out.” – Anna Wilson, Marketing Consultant and Director
“Really pushing ahead with the mobile experience and making use of data will be key for maximising return on customer acquisition.” – Al Keck, Infinity Nation
The power of cross-channel: The Taxi Shop
Indeed, this strategy seems to have been successful for British agency BuzzedUp which helped its client The Taxi Shop achieve 823% ROI with a lead nurturing program. The taxi market has seen huge disruption from Uber and other app players, as well as many legislative changes. It’s a market with long sales cycles (3-5 years) where buyers do a lot of research and price is a major comparison point. So how do you grow a business in such a sharp environment?
By targeting prospective buyers based on their specific interest (as indicated from Facebook Ads and previous email behaviour), BuzzedUp created a nurture campaign that was relevant to each contact’s needs. The right message at the right time might be an old marketing concept, but it’s remarkable how few marketers actually put it into practice.
An exciting, evolving channel
And it’s not just data making agencies successful with email. Despite the growing complexity of the marketing landscape, email as a technological tool is also evolving. You might think email has been around for 20 years, but the capabilities of email have changed considerably in that time. From plain text to the first steps with HTML and then responsive design, conditional content and embedded video support, marketers and tech developers have constantly pushed the boundaries of what is possible in the channel. Email client support for engaging new features still varies, but ultimately we have seen massive improvements since email’s inception.
We couldn’t talk about email’s evolution without mentioning that automation has done a lot of to push the channel forward and make more than just communication practitioners excited about the future of the channel. A boom in online shopping ensured a digital form of receipts and the new need of delivery notifications were fulfilled via email. This later expanded to welcome, nurture, re-activation programs and many other trigger-based notifications. I think that the more marketers find innovative ways to use the technology at hand, the more it will push developers to come up with ways to advance the channel, making the future even more exciting.
“It’s a good time to be an email developer. When you do something out of the ordinary with a particular goal, email can be a statement piece to get your clients noticed.” – Matthew Slaymaker