Top ten e-mail marketing trends for 2005 updated
Following on from its well-received 'Top ten e-mail marketing trends for 2005', the on-demand e-marketing firm ExactTarget has published a revised forecast of the top e-mail marketing trends for the rest of the year, starting with content relevance and customer retention.
The predictions first made at the start of 2005 have been adjusted to reflect current market adoption, common practices and new theories on e-mail marketing. The up-to-date top ten runs as follows:
- Relevance is king. The top e-mail trend for 2005 continues to be relevance, which ExactTarget defines as "delivering messages that contain specific value to an individual subscriber". According to Chris Baggott, chief marketing officer and co-founder of ExactTarget, for too long marketers have been focused on marketing as a campaign. "Customers no longer accept that," Baggott warned. "The value is in the individual, and in driving lifetime customer value".
- E-mail is a customer retention tool. E-mail is not an acquisition tool - it's a retention tool, the company says. Some 90% of marketing dollars are invested in acquisition programmes, including keywords, banner ads, direct mail, and the like. But ExactTarget recommends that those tactics should instead be used to acquire permission to continue the relationship through e-mail.
- Data appends are good for enriching customer data. According to Baggott, appending e-mail addresses to existing customer data and assuming that you have permission to send them e-mail is a bad practice. However, with data appending, marketers can ask a minimum number of questions on a registration form and let the appending process fill in the gaps with address and even demographic information.
- Testing and optimising e-mails. The success gap is widening in e-mail marketing, and it is defined by a line drawn between marketers who test e-mails for effectiveness and those who do not. "Even yesterday's A/B type testing is being replaced by more advanced multi-variant and Taguchi testing," said Baggott. "Before dynamic content, advanced testing was almost impossible. But now it's easy, and the results are dramatic".
- Control corporate spamming. Organisations are responsible for every communication that originates from any one of its employees. How can a marketer know if someone in the company is spamming or engaging in other practices that could result in the company being blacklisted or even fined? The answer is simple enough: marketers will increasingly need to take control of outbound e-mail at the enterprise level.
- Leveraging transactional e-mails. Transactional e-mails are an opportunity to touch base with customers. You are almost guaranteed that transactional e-mail will be read. ExactTarget suggests that marketers can take advantage of this opportunity to grow the customer relationship, as transactional e-mails are a chance to convey relevant information to the customer and to gather additional data that will help build a relationship".
- Creating one-to-one relationships. While brands are important for the credibility and reputation of an organisation, decisions are usually made between people. Marketers can be expected to leverage e-mails to bring about (and later enhance) real one-to-one relationships. "The best way to do this is with the 'From Line'," Baggott suggests. "Make e-mail come from humans - real salespeople, spokespeople, relationship owners, store managers, or customer service reps - rather than from the institution. Including pictures of the sender can make e-mail even more personal".
- Measuring results with multi-channel analytics. Measuring e-mail success based on opens and click-throughs is no longer sufficient to obtain a true picture of a campaign's success. Marketers will increasingly need to focus on how the individual subscriber behaves after the click. This can be accomplished through multi-channel analytics, and then integrating e-mail with web tracking software and the company's CRM system.
- Integrating customer data. According to Baggott, marketers make the greatest impact when they talk to people as if they know them. The key is to learn as much as possible about the customer and to collect data at every touch point possible, then centralise that data into one source. With API's and web services, marketers can now feed data automatically into a single database from various touch points, such as the web, e-mail, POS, telephone and even personal contact.
- E-mail only when there's something to say. E-mail frequency and relevance go hand in hand, and marketers should only e-mail people when they have something new to say. "The idea that 'it's a particular day of week, and I've got to send an e-mail' is antiquated," warns Baggott, who says that marketers have few enough opportunities to constructively engage their customers and prospects, and they must simply maximise each opportunity they get instead of firing off meaningless messages.
ExactTarget provides on-demand e-mail software for permission-based e-mail marketing. The Home Depot, General Mills, Scotts, Churchill Downs, Encyclopedia Britannica, and more than 3,500 other organisations already use its systems to build relationships and control e-mail at the enterprise level.