2018 was a year that shook the email marketing industry. GDPR came into effect, which forced companies marketing to residents in the European Union to take customer privacy much more seriously.
There were also several advancements in AI, simplifying data analysis. But 2018 is now over, and we’re now well into 2019. It’s time to shift our focus to the future and look at what’s going to be big news for the latter half of 2019.
Are you ready to see which trends to focus on going forward? Let’s get started.
Take Full Advantage of Automation
In marketing, providing the right information at the right time is essential to being successful. A killer campaign might not be enough to convince your client to buy immediately. They might require more information or a quick follow up to prompt them to take action.
The problem is that marketers already have a pretty full schedule. If you’re not data mining to find new leads, you’re working on schmoozing prospects and convincing them to close the deal.
There are only so many hours in the day, so you need to narrow your focus on the most promising leads. Automation can help you stretch your time more effectively. A good CRM program can help to track a client’s activity with regard to your campaign.
These CRM programs have come a long way since their early days. Not only can they see whether or not your email has been opened, but they can also see things like what your clients do on your site.
These days, the programs are growing so sophisticated these days that they’re able to pinpoint where a client is in the buying cycle. The system can be programmed to automatically send out follow-ups when certain triggerpoints are hit.
Say, for example, a client opens the email and clicks on the link but doesn’t complete the purchase. They might just need a little nudge. A follow-up email sent within a few days with a bit more information could be that little push that they need.
But if your sales team is busy chasing other leads, are they going to be able to be on top of these follow-up emails? Around about half of B2B marketers currently use automation to ensure that the follow-up is done effectively.
This means that your team deals with fewer administrative issues, freeing them up to focus more on pure sales.
Going forward, automation is going to become even more important as companies will need to become more efficient to survive. It’s a win-win – your team gets to focus on getting results, while also properly fostering a relationship with a prospective client.
You Can No Longer Ignore Omnichannel Marketing
Omnichannel marketing is something that needs to be embraced – you need to reach your prospects where they are. That could mean via email, social media, forums, and so on.
In the past, monitoring your client’s behavior across many different channels meant having someone actually go into each channel to check things out. Someone would have to physically check out each prospect’s social media accounts, and so on.
AI allows you to put these tasks on autopilot. You can track every click made by your prospect and see which sites they hang out at, whether they interact with your social media posts, what they look at on social media and much more.
This greatly simplifies omnichannel marketing. You could send your prospect an email, and then follow up with an SMS. Or perhaps post a well-timed post on social media.
Overall, it does mean that you’ll have to be more careful when it comes to planning your campaigns. You’ll need to create the original email, a follow-up email, perhaps an SMS, and a social media post that ties in as well.
So, yes, it does mean more work when it comes to the initial planning of your campaign. The bonus is that you can more easily hit all the touchpoints required to move the client through each stage of the buying cycle, without over-relying on any one medium.
Think of it this way – would you send a prospect three to four emails about the same campaign in a week? No, because you’d risk them thinking they’re being spammed.
So, you send one email, and potentially follow-up email a few days later. That’s not spammy. You then bring the message home with a quick SMS. They will “coincidentally” see your campaign-related post on social media.
That’s four different touchpoints that can build on one another, without making the client feel as though they’re being spammed. Perhaps you could also link through to a YouTube tutorial that gives another touchpoint and more information.
If done correctly, omnichannel marketing can be highly effective. It’s also a lot easier now that AI can assist us with automating this task. AI can also be useful in analyzing the data and helping you to send out the exact right piece of information at the right time.
Make Sure that Each Message is Relevant
This is marketing 101. You want to create the right message for your audience. In today’s competitive marketing environment; however, it’s now more essential than ever. Consumers today are a lot more demanding – they want to be treated like the individuals that they are.
They’re expecting solutions that are more tailored to what they want, rather than solutions that companies tell them they need. Companies have to provide them with products relevant to them, not generic solutions.
The same can be said for marketing. Most of us suffer from information overload. Think about how many emails and other marketing messages you receive a day. How much time do you waste reading emails that are of no interest to you?
Your clients are the same – they want relevant marketing targeted explicitly toward them. That young, single exec who’s just started their career doesn’t want to hear about the baby formula that you have on special.
Prospects don’t want their time to be wasted. Every irrelevant message is a time waster. At best, they’ll decide to ignore future emails, at worst, they’ll start seeing content from your company as spam.
Taking a little time before each campaign to establish the ideal buying persona is the first step in creating a highly relevant campaign. You’ll then need to segment your subscriber list in terms of these buyer personas.
You’ll be segmenting your list into groups of prospects with similar needs and pain points. This allows you to create a marketing message that speaks to each of these groups individually.
Let’s look at an example of this in action. Say, for example, that you’re marketing the latest SUV. This is a vehicle that could be of interest to a diverse range of people. Each of these people will have different motivations for buying it, though.
Your single exec, for example, might see it as a status symbol. A new mom, on the other hand, might see it as a useful vehicle for her expanding family. Taking these two diverse motivations into consideration, can you write a generic marketing message that will appeal to both people?
Of course, not – they’re not looking for the same thing. The exec might be more interested in the cool features, and how this vehicle enhances his or her image. The mom would probably be more interested in the safety features and the utility of the vehicle.
By creating two separate messages, you can address the needs of each individually, playing up the features that would be most likely to appeal to each. Even if neither was interested in the vehicle itself, they’d get the impression that your company understood their needs. It’ll help to improve the relationship.
Aim to Build the Relationship
That brings us to our next point – that your email campaigns should focus on building the relationship. Have you ever known someone that only ever contacted you when they wanted something? Or when they wanted to sell you something?
We all know someone like that. Every time they reach out, you wonder what the catch is. In fact, you start avoiding them because you know that they’re not interested in you. It’s important that your client never feels that way about your company.
Sure, they know that you’re a business, and they know that you want to sell them something. That’s a given. However, they need to feel like the relationship is give and take. They want to know that you appreciate them and that they’re important for more than just the next sale.
That’s why modern-day marketing is about more than just pushing your products. You need to give a little something back to your clients as well. It could be as simple as providing them information that they might be interested in.
It could be something as simple as the schedule for the holiday program at the community library. Or a tutorial on how to wear the latest fashion. Or how to do a simple repair. It doesn’t matter what the information is, as long as the client will find it useful.
Because you’ve segmented your list, it should be easy to find something that will be of interest to your clients. Preferably, it will be something that helps to show off your company’s expertise in your industry, but that’s not vital.
Think of things that will make your clients look forward to opening your next email. Think of something that will help them make their lives better, solve a problem, or that they’ll find entertaining.
And now, here’s the hard part – make it purely useful and not related to marketing at all. Follow the same 80/20 rule that you do with social media posts – 80% helpful information, and only 20% marketing messages.
This may seem like a bit of a waste of time, but it’s a brand-building exercise that can be quite rewarding. Let’s go back to our SUV example. Perhaps our exec or mom is not looking for a vehicle at the moment.
Even if you get pushy, they’re not going to buy an SUV, because they don’t need it right now. But if they’re getting a friendly email from your company every week that’s not related to marketing, your brand will be the first one they think of when they are in the market for a new car.
Get the Email Right
The other mistake that marketers often make is when it comes to the content in their emails. Relying on some standard, form email is not going to cut it. You want your emails to stand out – in a good way.
Keep the layout clear and uncluttered so that the email looks less intimidating to the receiver. Consider adding in “hot” words or links to more information for those who want to read up more, instead of having everything in the post.
Consider adding in elements that would be interesting such as mediums other than text – like images and videos. Figure out which type of content your audience most likely wants to consume, and use more of that.
For example, if you have a customer base who doesn’t typically have access to fast internet, keep the emails as simple as possible. If your clients are younger, they might prefer video content over text.
Having a good grasp of your buying personas will stand you in excellent stead here as well.
Some basic rules apply to everyone, though. These are:
- Keep it relevant. The content must appeal to your target audience.
- Optimize for mobile. That means keeping the file size as small as possible so that the email loads as fast as possible. You can do this by using links to videos instead of embedding the videos in the email. By optimizing for mobile, you’re ensuring that the message will look great on any screen size.
- If you include videos, make sure that they’re not going to play automatically. Your client may be on a metered connection so they should always have the choice about whether to play the video or not.
Top advice email marketing companies have for 2019 is simple – forget the gimmicks and focus more on the individual client. By adopting a more customer-centric approach, you will be able to improve your brand image and ensure that your email marketing campaigns will always be relevant.