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Capitalize on These 5 Communication Trends to Boost Email Marketing Effectiveness


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The ever-evolving media landscape looks nothing like it did just a few years ago. As customer behavior and preferences constantly change, marketers need to be agile in order to provide an optimal brand experience.

In this whitepaper, Yesmail covers five communication trends affecting the way consumers engage with companies. Read it now to learn how:
-Consumers are accessing email anytime, anywhere
-The passive opt-out is avoidable through activation campaigns
-Gmail is a relative newcomer but leader in the email space

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Capitalize on These 5 Communication Trends to Boost Email Marketing Effectiveness

  1. 1. Capitalize on These 5 Communication Trends to Boost Email Marketing Effectiveness The constantly evolving media landscape looks nothing like it did just a few years ago. Consumers interact with a myriad of channels and devices—from email to Snapchat, Apple to Android—leading to a volume of messaging that can take some time to wrap your head around. For instance, in 2013, 182.9 billion emails were sent/ received per day worldwide. That number is projected to grow by 5% by the end of 2014. Another interesting figure: more than 500 million tweets are sent each day. Something else to keep in mind is that messages like emails and tweets can now be relayed via mobile devices. With so many things vying for consumers’ attention, people have become more selective and learned how to easily sift through messages to pinpoint which ones are actually valuable to them (with “valuable,” of course, being the operative word). As customer behavior and preferences evolve, marketers need to stay on top of these trends and employ strategies to stay relevant while conveying the value of their products and services. The most successful marketers are nimble and flexible. They use data-driven insights to deliver relevant, personalized communications that are seamlessly deployed across channels. Ideally, those who provide an optimal brand experience will be rewarded with customer loyalty. Catering to prospects and customers can be easier said than done, however. In this whitepaper, we focus on five key communications trends affecting the way consumers engage with marketers… 1. Evolving relationship with the inbox 2. Relevant, personalized communications 3. Email anytime, anywhere 4. Added-value content 5. Rise of the passive opt-out pg. 21.877.YESMAIL | |
  2. 2. Evolving relationship with the inbox Users’ relationships with the email inbox have drastically changed and the increased adoption of mobile devices and Gmail updates have influenced this evolution. Mobile The traditional model of companies managing relationships with customers has been flipped on its head. We’ve entered an age where companies should no longer employ the traditional CRM system to manage their customers, but rather employ a system that addresses CMR: Customer-Managed Relationships. Shoppers are more empowered than ever and have the freedom to choose where and when they interact with brands. Today that means via mobile devices most of the time, at any hour of the day (see point #3). In the first quarter of 2014, Yesmail found that more than half of email opens (51.6%) occur on a mobile device. What’s more, hybrid viewers—people who open the same email on desktops and mobile devices—dropped 12% between Q4 2013 and Q1. Now, consumers are showing a preference for a specific device: 46.8% of consumers open marketing emails exclusively on a mobile device versus 45.7% solely on a desktop. Many email marketers are employing responsive design in their campaigns to eliminate the need for subscribers to pinch and zoom a message just to read it on various devices. Responsive emails automatically adapt to the size of the screen they’re opened on and the results of this adjustment are promising: responsive emails have a 21% higher click-to-open rate than status quo (read: non- responsive) emails. Despite the increased usage of smartphones and tablets and greater engagement with mobile-friendly email, marketers have been slow to adapt. Just 1% of marketers incorporate responsive design in all their emails. pg. 31.877.YESMAIL | |
  3. 3. What it all means: Mobile devices are becoming the primary means for consumers to access the email inbox, so marketers need to monitor platform and device usage for their specific audience in order to plan and measure the success of their marketing efforts. Following mobile email best practices will be beneficial regardless. For instance: • Be a recognized sender by having an easily identifiable “from” name • Incorporate personalization in subject lines and test these to optimize open rates • Use pre-header text that complements the subject line to enhance relevance • Employ tight character counts to cater to mobile readers: about 30 for subject lines, 65 for pre-header text • Even if responsive design isn’t an option yet for your brand, consider implementing scalable design to help optimize the email-viewing experience across devices pg. 41.877.YESMAIL | |
  4. 4. Gmail Gmail, which celebrated its 10th birthday this year, is relatively new to the email space but has shown a commitment to innovation time and time again through regular product updates. In addition, Gmail accounts for almost 15% of all marketing database subscribers and boasts the most engaged user base out of the other major freemail services, including Hotmail, Yahoo, and AOL. These figures from Q4 2013 showcase Gmail’s strong user engagement and presence: • 11% of Gmail users were active in the past 90 days (compared to 8% of Yahoo users, 7% of Hotmail users, and 6% of AOL users) • Nearly a third (32%) of Gmail users opted into marketing databases in the past year (versus 21% of Hotmail users, 17% of Yahoo users, and 11% of AOL users) • Gmail users made up almost half (43%) of all new subscribers Due to the growing influence of Gmail, its commitment to innovating the user experience can have significant influence on users’ email experience and creates opportunities for marketers. Features that were recently added to Gmail have enabled users to have even more control over their inbox, enabling them to filter their emails and increase the frequency of their interactions in the inbox…meanwhile, it has become easier to unsubscribe from marketing messages. pg. 51.877.YESMAIL | |
  5. 5. What updates did Gmail make? Tabs During the summer of 2013, Gmail introduced a feature that automatically filters incoming emails into separate tabs based on categories such as Primary (for important communications with people like friends and family), Social (for social network updates), and Promotions (for marketing messages). In an interview with DMNews, Brad Van der Woerd, Yesmail’s Director of Deliverability, noted that the new categorizations organized the inbox experience for users; the positive findings on Q4 Gmail engagement showed that marketers’ initial concerns about the update were unwarranted. Not too long after launching the Tabs feature, Gmail started a trial- run for grid view. This Pinterest-like format allows users to view emails from the Promotions tab in a visually appealing way and quickly scroll through the messages. Marketing emails are often image-heavy by nature and with grid view, brands can prominently display creative from their message plus their logo and subject line. Grid view hasn’t rolled out universally yet since Gmail is still experimenting, but marketers are hopeful the feature will translate into higher open and subsequently, conversion rates. Prominent “Unsubscribe” Button In February 2014, Gmail added a new “unsubscribe” button to the top of emails. This prominent button allows consumers to quickly remove themselves from marketing lists instead of searching at the bottom of messages for a way to opt-out. pg. 61.877.YESMAIL | |
  6. 6. The implications of Gmail’s updates: Gmail’s new Tabs and “unsubscribe” button puts more power in users’ hands, so marketers have to work harder to generate engagement. This shouldn’t be discouraging though. These updates should incentivize you to make your messaging as valuable as possible and enable consumers to easily filter through emails and select yours because of relevant, enticing copy and creative. Although we have not yet seen Gmail’s changes have a measureable impact on email campaign metrics, they are changing the inbox experience for end users and marketers need to pay attention so that they can adapt their inbox best practices and email design to capitalize on new opportunities. Note: As Gmail continues to release new products/issue product updates, be sure to monitor ongoing changes to identify potential shifts in customer behavior and thus opportunities for innovation and leadership. pg. 71.877.YESMAIL | |
  7. 7. Consumers know companies are collecting data and expect relevant, personalized communications. 88% of marketers believe they produce effective customer communications, but 86% admit they could do a better job of engaging people if they had access to more robust customer data. Prospects and customers will have a better brand experience if marketers use metrics and other insights to tailor content and creative to their target audience’s wants and needs. By implementing a data-driven marketing strategy, companies can drive brand interactions and, ultimately, revenue. Since consumers expect brands to know them, brands are now auditing and analyzing key insights to deliver on these high expectations with personalized communications. Here are a few ways marketers are doing that: • Collecting data from communication touch points and appending customer information from third-party providers • Creating detailed subscriber profiles based on audience segments and incorporating lifecycle marketing strategies to move subscribers from one engagement stage to the next— whether it’s from inactive to active, non-purchaser to frequent purchaser, and so on • Planning relevant messaging, creative, campaign frequency, and timing based on unique identifiers in each subscriber segment 41% of consumers buy more from retailers who send them personalized emails pg. 81.877.YESMAIL | |
  8. 8. 78%Email Most Popular Activities on Smartphones Web Browsing Facebook Maps/Directions Games General Search Share/Post Photos Local Search Read News, Sports TV/Video Source: IDC and Facebook: “Always Connected”, Aug. 2013 73% 70% 64% 60% 57% 53% 46% 44% 37% Consumers are accessing email anytime, anywhere. In 2013, about 150 million people in the U.S. owned smartphones and nearly 4 in 5 checked their phone within the first 15 minutes of waking up. Smartphone users check their devices 150 times per day, with 15% of checks related to text messaging or email, and the latter being the most commonly used smartphone app. These figures shed light on how consumers seem to be obsessed with mobile devices. Now that mobile usage has reached critical mass and consumers are engaging with email more than any other application on their device, brands have more opportunities to engage customers. At the same time, however, this increases the complexity of delivering timely and relevant messages. It also makes the user experience and design crucial, especially since 70% of consumers will immediately delete emails that don’t render well on their mobile device. Marketers should think mobile-first when it comes to planning their campaign strategy: • Optimize layouts, creative, and calls-to-action (CTAs) for different devices • Coordinate online and offline experiences to ensure communications reach customers at the right time and place e.g. encourage social check-ins and deliver electronic receipts • Identify patterns in user behavior to develop audience profiles/ segments and leverage mobile functionality accordingly. Capitalize on maps, calendar, click-to-call, and so on • Don’t use email solely to promote, promote, promote. Communicate and connect with your audience pg. 91.877.YESMAIL | |
  9. 9. Added-value content really is king Consumers are flooded with marketing communications each day, especially in their inbox. It takes more than just promotions and offers to grab their attention and keep them engaged. Many marketers are turning to storytelling and content marketing to add value to their messages and maintain customer engagement. Ensure your content actually gets read by learning subscribers’ preferences (email preference centers are one way to do that). Align internal resources—including employees—to establish an editorial calendar and identify thought leadership or content that can be repurposed for blog posts, checklists, how-to guides, and more. Build out a content library to share your brand’s point-of-view but also take a customer-centric approach. That could mean incorporating user-generated content via blogs and social media or added-value messaging—basically anything that’s meaningful, inspirational, entertaining, or educational will do. Though it may seem counter-intuitive, keeping the focus on customers keeps your brand top-of-mind and drives website traffic when people aren’t ready to convert to purchase yet. This can, in turn, improve customer lifetime value and drive participation in loyalty programs. Once your brand has loyal fans, they’re far more willing to be your advocates. 27 MILLIONpieces of content are shared every day of consumers say they feel better about, and are more likely to buy from, a company that delivers custom content believe that organizations providing custom content are interested in building good relationships find custom content useful are more likely to be on the lookout for products when looking at content marketing feel more positive about a company after reading custom content on its site60% 60% 90% 78% 61% pg. 101.877.YESMAIL | |
  10. 10. Rise of the passive opt-out With the ascent of mobile and proliferation of messages in the inbox, it has become easy for consumers to simply ignore your email versus explicitly unsubscribing. The key is to maintain engagement by adding value to communications with relevant content while maintaining inbox best practices. Actively engaging subscribers is key to having solid inboxing rates. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) heavily weigh user engagement stats in algorithms used to get emails into the inbox. Employ activation campaigns to catch subscribers who may be passively opting out before they lapse or to retire those who are no longer interested. Email marketers need to formulate active/inactive segmentation plans to provide customers with the right message at the right frequency based on their interactions with a brand throughout the purchase lifecycle. Generally: • Early activation campaigns are designed to engage subscribers who joined your database 0-90 days ago and are usually the top-performing segment. Some examples include an offer for a discount on their next purchase or a reward for their loyalty. • Mid-activation campaigns are meant to engage subscribers who have been inactive between 3 and 12 months. For these, you could ask customers to update their email preferences so you can provide relevant communications or send them a “We miss you” message by providing a special incentive offer. • Late-activation campaigns are intended to engage subscribers who have been inactive more than a year. Put out feelers to see who responds and determine if you should continue your reactivation attempts or just remove these subscribers from your list. pg. 111.877.YESMAIL | |
  11. 11. Another take on activation campaigns is as follows: The key here: Understand your audience’s preferences and interests so you can provide timely, targeted campaigns based on seasonality, affinities/interests, past purchase history including specific brands and product categories. Non-Engaged: New Frequency: All PromoTouches Buyer: Highly Engaged Frequency: All PromoTouches Email: Highly Engaged Frequency: All PromoTouches 2 3 4 New to Program 0-x Days 1 Non-Engaged: Old Frequency: 1x Monthly &Target Cycles Buyer: Less Engaged Frequency: 1xWeekly &Target Cycles Email: Less Engaged Frequency: 2xWeekly &Target Cycles 5 6 7 Non-Engaged: Inactive Frequency: Ready for Retirement Buyer: Inactive Frequency: 1x Monthly &Target Cycles Email: Inactive Frequency: 2x Monthly &Target Cycles 8 9 10 Non-Engaged: Inactive Frequency: Retired Buyer: Inactive Frequency: Ready for Retirement Email: Inactive Frequency: Ready for Retirement 11 12 13 Active: 0-120 Days Active: Last 5-11 Months Active: Last 12-13 Months Active: Last 14+ Months Buyers/Non-buyers w/ Email Activity Buyers w/ No Email Activity Non-buyers w/ No Email Activity pg. 121.877.YESMAIL | |
  12. 12. To recap Follow these five communication trends to help boost email marketing effectiveness: pg. 131.877.YESMAIL | |
  13. 13. marketing@yesmail.com877.YESMAIL About Yesmail Interactive As the email marketing solutions provider within Yes Lifecycle Marketing, we power intelligent customer interactions. We give you the insights to recognize and understand your customer to deliver contextually relevant digital communications- while respecting their preferences and privacy. We help marketers evolve their customer relationships through intelligent interactions via technology, insights and services in a near real time multi-channel environment. We help you compete in the age of the customer. For more information, visit About Yes Lifecycle Marketing Yes Lifecycle Marketing is a solution provider that brings together multichannel marketing platforms and data, with creative and strategy services honed on the optimization of delivering relevant marketing messages. This gives marketers the ability to source best-of-breed technology and creative and strategy services from a single vendor at a cost-effective price point. For more information, visit