Why mess with something that’s not broken?
That seems to be the way many brands view their email marketing efforts.
After all, with so many other rapid digital changes to worry about—from fresh social networks to the continuing shift to mobile—it seems easier (and safer) to stick with existing email approaches.
Unfortunately, that inaction is a major mistake. Although email may appear to be a mature channel, it too is quickly evolving. By failing to alter their tactics, marketers are missing out on major potential increases in engagement and revenue.
In particular, most brands could benefit immensely by embracing these eight email design, content, and strategy approaches:
1. Useful Interactivity
When 1,200 marketers were asked what the top email trend of 2017 would be, the clear winner was interactivity.
Why did that top the list? Because a series of advancements—particularly with HTML, CSS, and service providers—have come together to change the essential nature of email.
Interactivity—true, useful, complex interactivity—is finally a reality within emails. This includes being able to incorporate dynamic elements such as expandable navigation, search, and add-to-cart functionality right inside messages.
In other words, whereas in the past, email campaigns were a bridge to get people to websites, it’s now possible to take action within messages themselves. That shift has immense potential to boost everything from signups to sales.
2. Subtle Movements
Movement within emails has gotten a bit of a bad name, and deservedly so. Some marketers have gone overboard with animations in messages over the past few years (Exploding fireworks! Flying stars! Running cats!) and made the practice seem gaudy.
However, incorporating subtle (i.e., tasteful) movement in emails is a highly effective way to stand out.
An animated GIF that shows slight motion, or a live background that moves just enough, can catch the recipient’s eye and get your message noticed. Moreover, modern dynamic visuals such as cinemagraphs can boost engagement even further.
3. Advanced Personalization
Basic email personalization—including a recipient’s name in the subject line, for
example—is nice but not especially effective. On the other hand, advanced email personalization based on behavior and detailed information can be transformative.
Thanks to Big Data and more powerful systems, it’s now possible to effectively tailor email content to individuals more than ever.
It’s hard to overstate the impact this can have on engagement. Messages sent because of action triggers, and/or which include rich individualized content, consistently have higher open, click, and click-to-action rates.
4. Fresh Illustrations and Images
Ever have the feeling that most of the emails you receive from brands look the same? That’s because they probably do.
This is in part because firms tend to use a lot of the same design templates. However, it’s also due to the fact that email marketers have become overly reliant on stock image/graphic services.
The reason for this is simple: stock visuals are significantly cheaper. What’s important to keep in mind, though, is that generic images feel generic to consumers.
If brands want to truly stand out, it’s worth investing in original illustrations and images—especially for major campaigns. If that isn’t financially feasible, at least switch things up by choosing unconventional stock visuals.
5. Short, Sweet, and Simple Text
For many marketers, their instincts when it comes to email text are to go complex and deep. After all, they have a lot to say about things like products/services, sales, and company news.
It turns out that this approach may be the wrong one. An analysis of 40 million sales emails found the most effective ones were written at a third-grade reading level and were very short (between 50–125 words long). Messages that included positive emotions also outperformed others.
Of course, the ideal length, complexity, and tone of emails vary by message type and industry. Sometimes marketers need more words, or to use difficult phrases, or to inspire different emotions. However, a general rule-of-thumb is that keeping campaigns short, sweet, and simple tends to boost effectiveness.
6. Modular Design
Brands often go all-or-nothing when it comes to the design of their emails: they either use the same templates over and over again or they build each campaign essentially from scratch.
With modular design, there’s now a great middle ground between those two approaches. A number of platforms have added options to allow marketers to create a roster of different design building blocks (modules) that can be fitted together to create fresh campaigns.
The advantage of this approach is that messages retain the same overall aesthetic while also being easily adapted to particular goals.
7. Irregular Timing
One subtle but important change that’s been occurring in email marketing is that many brands are shifting to sending messages when needed rather than on a set schedule.
There are a couple of big reasons for this: First, the volume of emails consumers receive continues to increase and marketers are realizing it’s better to engage less frequently; and second, technological evolutions have made it possible to send emails based on actions (site visits, etc.) in addition to set times.
This doesn’t mean that brands have to kill all their daily/weekly/monthly emails. However, it’s worth looking at whether those messages are absolutely necessary. If they’re not, then it might be time to shift from scheduled blasts to irregular timing (campaigns triggered by certain events).
8. Respect and Privacy
Finally, what do consumers want more than anything from email marketers this year?
It’s simple: respect.
There’s nothing new about that, of course, but it’s become more important than ever. People are getting more and more emails in their inboxes and they’re increasingly worried about how their personal data is being used/stored. This means that they’re becoming ever more discerning about which brands they agree to receive messages from.
If you want consumers to keep subscribing to your list, reading your emails, and clicking on links, then make sure to focus on respect.
Specifically, don’t overload people with too many campaigns, don’t sign them up for things they don’t want, and don’t present them with content that’s irrelevant.
In the short term, these approaches may lead to a slight dip in some metrics, but they’ll set you up for email marketing success in the long term.
MDG Advertising, a full-service advertising agency with offices in Boca Raton and New York, NY, is one of Florida’s top branding firms. MDG’s capabilities include print advertising, direct mail marketing, branding, logo design, creative, media buying and planning, radio and TV advertising, outdoor, newspaper, digital marketing, website design and development, online video advertising, infographic development, email marketing, video marketing, mobile marketing, content marketing, social media marketing, paid search marketing, and SEO. To learn about the latest trends in advertising and branding, contact MDG Advertising today at 561-338-7797 or visit mdgadvertising.com.
Written by Michael Del Gigante