Email isn't going anywhere
Email can be a misunderstood, and sometimes, underestimated channel by those not in-the-know. Email as a platform has developed immensely over the past decade. The advances in data, such as what we can capture, and ultimately what we can do with it, have been the biggest development. This has helped to boost automation, testing, and personalization – they now work in ways we could only imagine years ago.
Despite changing laws and consumer attitudes, email marketing has remained a powerful engagement driver and communication tool for businesses across the board. No matter which industry or territory you’re in, email is an essential pillar of your marketing strategy.
With other channels joining the mix, such as SMS, live chat, Whatsapp, Wechat, Line, and push notifications – to name a few – email has a lot more company than it used to. We’re here to talk about the OG, and why it’s as strong as it has always been.
More than ROI
The DMA states that the value of an email address stands at £35 for every £1 spent in 2020, maintaining email’s position as an efficient and strong channel in terms of ROI. Of course, ROI is important, but there’s more to email. The pandemic reminded us that email is a great channel for communicating and connecting with customers on a deeper level. Remember that behind the data, the personas, the contact lists – it’s ultimately a human being that’s reading your email.
Our Global Benchmark Report saw email sends increase during the pandemic, as brands turned to email as they lost offline contact with their audiences. Brands were able to utilize email to reach out to their customers to reassure them, update them on business changes, and to send well wishes too.
Rolling with the punches
Despite the changes thrown at email, it consistently surfs the wave of change and stays on top of the curve. Apple’s iOS 15 was one such example of this. The changes brought in by Apple, to further protect consumers’ data, mean that open rates aren’t a reliable metric (and tbh, they never really were). Email had other tricks up its sleeve.
Utilizing clicks as a measure for engagement works a lot better than opens – which could be an open consisting of a read and a smile, a positive engagement, or it could be a frantic click in order to get rid of that nagging notification, with not a single word taken in. At first, the prospect of open rates no longer being relevant was a scary one, but the industry has pulled together and we now have a much stronger way of measuring engagement and deciding our AB tests.
Good news. Clicks aren’t going anywhere, in fact, the changes to open rates make clicks an even more important metric to track. Our Global Benchmark Report found that the average click-through rate (CTR) across the study period was 1.99%. The click-to-open rate (CTOR), which measures the number of unique clicks to unique opens, averaged 10.86% across the study period. As inboxes get busier, email design gets slicker and dynamic content becomes expected, creating a relevant, effective, and visually appealing email is super important if you want to see those click-through rates looking strong.
Now, whilst email is a strong channel, it works best in tandem with your other marketing activities. Combine the knowledge you get from your email data with zero-party data, existing data, and on-site tracking to paint a fuller and more balanced picture.
Retention is key
Onto retention – the goal for any marketer. 2021 saw an 8.17% year-on-year drop in average monthly contact creations, and a 7.56% increase in contact removals. We all know that retaining customers is cheaper than acquiring new ones, so it’s crucial to have a strong retention strategy in place. Of course, some customer churn is healthy, you don’t want people on your email lists who don’t want to be there, but too much churn can be costly.
Take a look at the whole customer journey and focus your attention on areas that see a high drop-off. Are your new customers signing up for a one-time discount then leaving? Look at your welcome series. Are your lapsed customers dropping off? Look at your reengage programs. And so on.
Data and permission
You also want to make sure the power is in the customer’s hands. All of these changes to how customer data is held reflect the shift in consumer mindset. Customers want to have control of their data, huge data leaks that made headlines in recent years, as well as increased, and occasionally intrusive, personalization has led to many consumers feeling protective over their data. Be sure to have a preference center so that customers can opt-in, or out, of certain messages, rather than just a blanket one-size-fits-all approach that will lead to straight-up unsubscribes.
The growth of segmentation
Along the same vein here, consumers want a personal approach. If they’re going to give you their data, they want to feel the benefits. Enter, segmentation. Our report saw that the average monthly number of segments created per account grew 27% between 2019 and the first half of 2021, with the biggest growth happening this year. Segments per account jumped 7.6% from 2019 to 2020 and another 18.3% from 2020 to the first half of 2021. This growth is because segmentation works.
Use data, personas, and behavior to look for patterns and then explore how you can maximize engagement within these groups and run with it. Serve your customers and prospects the right message, at the perfect time. Our segmentation ebook found that effective use of this technique can boost email marketing revenues up to 760% – so it’s definitely worth looking into if you aren’t already.
Automate and save time
Something that goes hand in hand with segments? Automated programs. Our Global Benchmark Report found that automation creation has fallen year on year from 4.3 programs per account in 2019, down to just 3.8 in the first half of 2021.
Automations are an absolute savior for email marketers. They allow you to message customers with personalized, detailed content, at the right time. The drop in creations is likely due to the initial time outlay needed to set up an automation. We all know that marketers have a lot on their plate, but setting up automations will free up time for your future self – it’s definitely worth it. Automations allow you to ‘catch’ your customers and prospects at various drop-off points along the customer journey. Setting up an automation means you can rest, knowing that the automation is nurturing your customers, whilst you focus your time elsewhere.
That said, whilst one of the best things about automations is that you can set them up and they’ll continue to put in the hard work – you don’t want to set and forget. Set aside time regularly to review your automations, and run tests constantly. It doesn’t matter how small, it could be as simple as having an emoji in the subject line vs none, just as long as you’re consistently learning and optimizing.
Automations allow you to think ahead, nurture new customers, check-in and be proactive with lapsing customers, and keep your loyal customers happy and engaged with automations such as birthday or anniversary to surprise and delight.
When all’s said and done, email is a communication tool. It can act as the shop assistant of the online world by communicating with customers, pre-empting their needs, and providing information. With the ever-changing landscape of digital marketing, and new platforms and strategies emerging all the time, it can be hard to keep up and to know where to focus. But one thing’s for sure, email is an essential channel for your business, and it’s not going anywhere.
Don’t forget to download our Global Benchmark Report, lifting the lid on three years’ worth of email data, to gain valuable insider info and insight to further inform your email strategy.