Looking back at 2014, we can’t deny that it has been an eventful year in email marketing. The increasing use of smartphones and tablets has brought email its sexy back, and it’s not just us saying it. Research has shown that it’s now the number one channel for marketing ROI.
Let’s recap what happened in 2014:
Gmail and its email marketing shifts
There’s no doubt that Gmail sent the email world into a stir again this year with the changes it introduced. First, it started trialing a visual grid in the Promotions tab, which means the email subject line is no longer the most important decision factor in whether an email is opened. Although this feature has not yet been rolled out to all Gmail users, it’s something we can’t ignore.
Then, it inserted an unsubscribe link at the top of the email, making it quicker for contacts to stop emails they don’t want anymore. And finally, it launched Inbox – a new email app designed to help its users organize their emails better.
Despite the gloomy attitude towards these changes, they haven’t diminished the impact of email marketing, but have pushed marketers to examine and improve their approach.
The research behind the 2014 Econsultancy and Adestra Email Industry Census showed that more than ever, email is here to stay. So much so, that marketers consider it the most fruitful channel in terms of investment. Looking into retail, publishing, charity and technology has shown that different sectors have different recipes for success. For some, it’s personalization and social sharing, for others it’s abandoned baskets and lifecycle campaigns. Have you checked what your industry peers are doing?
Marketing automation is supporting growth, but it’s not one-size-fits-all
As marketing automation is no longer restricted to the big players, we’ve seen an increased use of technology with triggered emails like abandoned basket, upsell, cross-sell, and welcome campaigns. And with this possibility has come an increased capability to drive performance, like in the case of the May Design Series (UBM).
However, it’s important to understand that automation doesn’t mean hands-free. It needs to be monitored and optimized for maximum performance. Neither is it a one-size-fits-all solution. You need to embrace it equipped with a plan, and be prepared for multiple iterations.
Mobile readership continued to increase
There are numerous articles explaining the importance of mobile-friendly emails, and case studies showing improved performance from updating to an optimised template. And we’ve been monitoring our database of email sends to share our results.
If in April email opens were primarily desktop-based, by November the situation had changed with mobile accounting for 45% of total email opens. And while you’re thinking about optimizing, check out the 3 simple ways email can help you master mobile marketing.
Data is still big, but we’re learning to use it better
Big data, mixed data and intelligent data, whatever the term, we have slowly started to use it not just to understand consumer behaviour, but to support revenue and brand engagement. The challenge for next year is to break data silos, in order to be able to target our customers better in the course of their journey to purchase.
Greater opportunities for integrating email and social
With Facebook and Twitter opening up their API to strengthen collaboration with email databases, social and email now form a very powerful combination. Depending on your audience’s preferred channel for engagement with your brand, you can use that to your advantage. Learn how to grow your email list using social media channels, or retarget passive email subscribers on social channels.
Being part of the conversation around events can help increase relevancy
We all know to send festive emails at Christmas, and emails full of love hearts on Valentine’s Day, but what about all the other events in the year? Depending on your brand and product offering, certain events throughout the year can open up new avenues if you react to them in time. See how Evans Cycles tied in with the Tour de France, plus four other examples.
This much anticipated piece of legislation came into effect on the 1st of July this year, bringing with it strict regulation for companies sending email to Canadian subscribers. Whether or not you think it’s too harsh, or the right move, you need to checked that you comply with its consent requirements?
Some of these themes, like mobile and automation, will very likely going to continue to influence the direction of email marketing in 2015. They will push the boundaries of how we use data, and how we provide value to our customers. What an exciting time to be in email marketing!