Major e-mail marketing trends for 2005 predicted
Some significant shifts in e-mail marketing methods for 2005 are predicted by the on-demand e-mail marketing software developer Exact Target, starting with changes in e-mail relevance, consumer preference handling, and data integration.
According to ExactTarget (which provides permission-based e-mail marketing for thousands of companies worldwide), among the top trends that are likely to be influential in the e-mail marketing sector for 2005 are:
- Relevance is king The top e-mail trend in 2005 will be relevance - sending unique messages based on individual attributes at an appropriate frequency. Chris Baggott, chief marketing officer for ExactTarget, predicts that 2005 will see the demise of what he calls "batch-and-blast" e-mailing and - to some extent - a move away from large-batch segmentation.
Baggott believes that marketers are now beginning to appreciate the unique value of e-mail in building person-to-person relationships and that, while this has been a stated goal for years, execution has historically followed the mass marketing approach.
- Frequency becomes individually-driven As e-mails become more relevant, the question of how frequently to e-mail subscribers goes away. "People shouldn't be batch-blasted on a monthly or weekly schedule; that is a relic of print marketing campaigns," said Baggott.
- The user interface is critical As marketers need to do more with their e-mail, the ease of use of their tools becomes very important. "If marketers have to reach out to technology resources every time they want to change a content rule or test a concept, they won't do it, and therefore will fail to market to their full potential," said Baggott.
- Data integration fuels relationship marketing Database Marketing drives relevance, and data integration drives database marketing. In 2005, e-mail marketers will move toward unfettered access to marketing data with stronger and more invisible integration between their e-mail systems and their other marketing technology solutions, such as point of sale and marketing resource management.
"We're already seeing this with e-mail integration to web analytics and CRM. Accessing data hasn't historically been a problem for marketers, it's been executing on the data," said Baggott. "E-mail is uniquely positioned to take the data and work it up to a level of relationship marketing that most marketers have only dreamed of."
- Moving toward automated e-mail Automated or event-driven e-mail will get a lot of attention in 2005. Marketers can utilise customer data with automated e-mail triggers to deliver relevant, one-to-one communications. For example, if an item goes on sale that is right for a particular subscriber, an e-mail can be automatically sent to that person. "There's no reason to waste a 'touch' on an entire database when only a few subscribers will be interested in receiving a particular message," explained Baggott. "Automating e-mail allows marketers to easily communicate with subscribers in a targeted and intelligent way."
- Marketing democracy? E-mail will become the great marketing equaliser, too. Gone are the days that good marketing requires big budgets. The company that drives the better customer relationship will have the advantage. "With the cost of data going down and e-mail continuing to be affordable, smaller businesses now have the tools to compete with their larger counterparts when it comes to relationship marketing," said Baggott.
- Rise of the "From Address" The Sender Address will become the most important factor in determining the initial success of an e-mail programme in 2005. In terms of relevancy and growing relationships, the From Address will now need to reflect a real person, not just a company.
"The fastest way to build a relationship between your prospects/customers and your company is to engage with them one-on-one," Baggott said. "E-mail is the perfect tool to do this. We will see more e-mail coming from salespeople, customer service reps, store managers or franchise owners in 2005 than ever before, even though much will be automated with 'relationship owner' simply being entered as another data field."
- Better control and compliance E-mail is probably the least controlled medium in most organisations - but that will change in 2005 as organisations are faced with three significant drivers that are forcing consistent control and compliance:
- Organisations are striving for one central view of the customer to cut down on the number of e-mails sent to customers from various departments throughout the organisation through batching.
- Companies are also recognising that they are legally liable for content in e-mails sent by their employees. Policies aren't enough; integrated content management systems will become a critical component to any system.
- Compliance also affects deliverability. It is becoming mission critical that systems are in place to monitor compliance with lists, bounces, filters and everything else associated with managing blacklists complying with the rules of various ISP white lists. No organisation can afford to appear on a blacklist that might affect the entire enterprise because of the irresponsible action of perhaps one person or department.
- In-house e-mail will be outsourced to service providers Most organisations don't have the resources in house to manage the constantly changing complexities of e-mail marketing software. These marketers will outsource their e-mail to professional e-mail service providers that can deliver an on-demand, easy-to-use e-mail solution that allows you to communicate to customers individually with relevant, trackable e-mails while staying compliant with current regulations.