What does 2011 hold for email? Ryan Deutsch, vice president of strategic services at StrongMail, gives his predictions.
Digital messaging is at the core of every brand’s marketing strategy and despite growth in SMS and social media, email remains central to the digital customer relationship with 73 per cent of consumers naming email as their preferred communication channel.
But in spite of this, most studies find that 90 per cent of all emails sent are unsolicited commercial messages, or spam. It is clear that after years of building email marketing programmes marketers are still barely scratching the surface of email’s potential.
2011 is likely to be a year of highly sophisticated and intelligent email marketing and as such companies are expected to increase their investment in email marketing providers. StrongMail’s recent research into marketing trends revealed that 93 per cent of businesses plan to increase or maintain marketing spend this year, while 65 per cent plan to increase marketing budgets for email alone. Clearly, brands are aware of what needs to be done and plan to make big changes to address this.
Embrace New Techniques
During 2011 the gap between best in class marketers and those who are reluctant to embrace new techniques will continue to grow. Those that do choose to embrace new processes must ensure that they extend beyond implementation and include analysis of success that includes more than basic values.
Forrester’s Email Marketing Review (EMR), which scores companies on their email tracking, found that across all industries marketers understand basic, but not advanced, email marketing practices. Out of the 70 campaigns that Forrester reviewed, only two passed, indicating that there is still a long way to go.
New Business Models
The increased awareness of brand advertising means that approximately 77 per cent of all emails, are not even read. This has given rise to new business models like group commerce or flash sales developing in the email channel. Instead of receiving individual brand emails, a consumer receives just one centralised email, which lists offers from a number of different brands. The great thing about this models is that they are subscriber based which helps to cut through the mass of irrelevant emails in most inboxes.
In 2011 brands will also start to sit up and take notice of the wealth of unstructured data that social media can offer them. Consumers are engaging with brands, communities and peers all over the web, leaving a vast trail of customer information behind them that can be used by brands to intelligently target their communications.
For most marketers, 2011 should be about switching their focus from short lived, labour intensive campaigns to an ongoing and automated approach based on customer activity. Regular contact and delivering an improved brand experience to customer will ensure consistency of your message, identify customer insights and help you to develop a strategy with the right channels to forge a stronger brand-consumer relationship.
Finally, intelligent customer engagement is vital in a world of smarter inboxes. Emails must be tailored to suit individual preferences to make them feel more personal. The most efficient way to achieve this is combining preference-segmentation, right-time marketing and personal messages with social CRM.
Email has been at the centre of marketing campaigns for years and this trend looks set to continue. Techniques and practices are evolving and the winners in 2011 will be those brands that embrace changes and make investments to ensure they have the right tools for the job.
By Ryan Deutsch
Vice president of strategic services