For many years email marketing has been the ugly duckling of the marketing world. Unsolicited, unsightly, and certainly unhelpful, no wonder some marketers regard it as a relic of the digital stone-age.
But this is rapidly changing. Email marketing is receiving a profound overhaul thanks to new, innovative technology. It’s being transformed from a stagnant, clunky process, to one that is dynamic – not just in the interactivity of the content, but also the management of campaigns.
Email more acceptable
As people have become more comfortable with online shopping, their acceptance of marketing related emails has also increased. Why not sign up for the weekly or even daily newsletter that brings relevant deals and the odd discount straight to your inbox? This has seen the reuptake of email as an effective marketing strategy, and every single website worth its salt has an email subscription built in to it to grab prospective clients.
That said, two new technologies that specifically highlight email’s increased functionality include the bypassing of email form pages (click-to-call) and click-trigger (read-to-lead). Often found in email campaigns, readers need to click on a link to receive further information. From there they are then taken to a webpage where they have to fill in a form. The drop-off rate for this is staggeringly high (as much as 90%), since readers simply do not want to, yet again, provide further information just to receive a call. ‘Click-to-call’ technology bypasses this annoying form altogether, notifying a call-centre agent as soon as the customer clicks. The customer is directed to a ‘thank you’ page which notes that they can expect a call soon. This is of course dependent on the company having the client’s detail in their database.
Tracking email behaviour
Read-to-lead technology is another way to make sense of email behaviour. It allows companies to track users’ interest on emails, updating a database on the backend that logs individual users’ clicks. If, for example, a pet insurance company notices a specific user has clicked on more than three email articles, it notifies a call centre agent to phone him/her after the latest click. Initiating a soft-call this way increases the chances of customer engagement and ups the probability of a sale.
Doing all this does not require a certificate in advanced programming, since initiating and executing email campaigns have become no more difficult than having a passing knowledge of spreadsheets. Most marketers need an afternoon to understand the system and could have a campaign ready before leaving for home.
It’s the content that matters
Finally, it’s not just the technology that is improving the email experience, since there’s also a shift in perception regarding content. In our opinion content marketing and email marketing go hand-in-hand, because the email recipient gets to engage with relevant articles which can lead them into a logical purchasing cycle. Marketers need to think about what they can offer the client in terms of relevant, helpful content, and not just hard-sell pitches that makes them unsubscribe after the first email. After all, the reason why they might have subscribed to your email in the first place is that they believed it would hold some kind of value to them.
Underlying all this is the fundamental principle that marketers need to send emails that those on their mailing list who would want to receive them. Nothing more, nothing less. However, having the lead-generation system to support this is an extremely beneficial value-added element, and the true way to drag email marketing kicking and screaming out of the digital stone-age.
Brendan Els is a director of Manalytics. He is trying to change the way advertisers look at email marketing in the 21st century. Outside of email, he enjoys a round of golf and a few beers with his mates.