Editor's Note: Josh R Jackson is a contributing editor at BestMarketingDegrees.org. To celebrate the launch of our new Email Marketing Course, Josh joins us today to discuss the biggest email marketing trends in 2017.
We’ve come a long way since “You’ve got mail.”
So far, in fact, that the reason people open emails has completely changed over time.
From its inception in 1971 through the 1990s, email was seen exclusively as an extension to the written memo or business letter. That’s why it was called “electronic mail” or “e-mail” for short: it was an electronic alternative to paper based communication.
In 2017, email is the dominant platform used by working professionals to communicate with businesses. It comes as a surprise to many that even more than social media, email is still the most popular, private channel for Business-to-Consumer (B2C) and Business-to-Business (B2B) messages.
Looking at recent and historical trends, total emails sent and total email senders are projected to grow 3% annually through 2019, as email’s sphere of influence continues to expand. This means the audience marketers can reach via email will continue to broaden. And because that audience prefers email to communicate with brands they trust, email’s potential as a marketing channel will only continue to grow.
But there are hurdles to such growth, and marketers have to be prepared:
1. Shorter Attention Spans
A study recently confirmed what we all suspected: most online readers have shorter attention spans than a goldfish. While experts argue about the exact length of that attention span or whether its growing, consensus says that the average online reader has an attention span that does not surpass 9 seconds.
What does this have to do with email marketing? Well suffice to say, it doesn't bode well for your 2,000-word newsletter with no images. If you can't engage your recipients quickly and hold their attention, you're on a one-way-trip to delete-ville.
2. Sensitive Spam Filters
Automatic spam filters are getting much more aggressive to corporate messaging. This trend represents increased interest in cybersecurity that may only climb as government officials and email oversight personnel pay more and more attention to webmail.
Sadly, there's not much you can do about this. But here's a hint: most spam filters are trained on human perceptions. If your email doesn't look like spam to a person, there's a better chance it won't get deleted.
3. Increasingly Complicated Styles
The ever-increasing complexity of web design doesn't end with webpages. Email has moved away from text-only messages that look like newsletters. As a result, it is more difficult to make emails stand out and easier to let them stagnate.
To combat this stagnation, remain on customers’ radars, and hold their attention: businesses should watch all of these trends and learn how to make their emails appeal to customers’ sense of exclusivity, novelty, and personalization.
One of the best ways to maintain a relationship with your subscribers is giving them access to exclusive content. This approach can work with offers of access to a video, a webinar, a study, a free trial, or any other content produced by your brand.
When sending out email offers, condense the most interesting information you have to offer in the email subject line. Make it read like a news headline, but don’t give too much away.
The goal is to give subscribers something not all of your readers can access. Conceal and reveal is how you should approach both your emails and calls-to-action (CTAs); retention and acquisition should be your guiding principles. If your subscribers freely share the information you’ve freely given them, this approach can increase customer acquisition. Keep tabs on open and click-through rates and other metrics to analyze how well your appeals to exclusivity work.
The best way to remain on a customer’s radar is personalized email. What is personalized email? Let's break it down:
A personalized email knows:
- What a customer likes
- And what else they might like based on those preferences
- And how to deliver it to them via recommendation engine and webmail...
- ...at the time a customer is most likely to be at their device
While this might seem like a scary level of detail, machine learning makes this level of personalization possible on a large scale. Email template providers like MailChimp can provide detailed insights about reader preferences to businesses.
But when it comes to adding a personal touch, there is no substitute to corresponding one-on-one with actual customers. That’s why it’s a good idea to personalize emails with your own words as much as possible. Including your business’ address, telephone number, your personal signature, and a way to opt out of email from your business goes a long way towards accomplishing this goal. Doing all of this ensures that you’re complying with the CAN SPAM Act of 2003, and makes you appear reachable and human.
Email marketing is a HUGE marketing channel. If you want to know more about email marketing trends to watch in 2017, check out the new email marketing course in our updated class library for free!