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Consumers are using their phone to check email on a nearly 24-hour cycle. While this certainly gives your brand the opportunity to reach the customer at any point in time, it also presents one major hurdle: standing out.
Per a Forrester study published at the end of 2013, consumers were more than twice as likely to delete most email marketing without reading it (42%) than they were to read most email ads just in case something catches their eye (19%). The best way to overcome this is segmentation, but getting to the right segments is difficult.
A Strong View study quantified some of the challenges for enterprise businesses, finding that the top challenges are:
- Accessing and leveraging customer data from multiple channels and data sources (40% of respondents)
- Issues with coordination across marketing channels (34%)
- Developing more relevant engagements (32%)
Niche marketing is obviously optimal because personalized content has the best shot of getting through to the customer, but actually getting to the niche — who they are, how they behave, etc. — is increasingly difficult. There are a couple of email marketing trends emerging as winners in the click-through race on mobile: micro-targeting and micro-content.
Micro-Targeting & Email Marketing
With micro-targeting, marketing professionals will begin a very serious 1:1 relationship with customers rather than a 1:many in 2015. This mimics the strong consumer desire for convenience via personalization seen in the other marketing segments previously addressed.
To create these types of experiences, brands need data.
As we already know, transactional data will begin to offer less of a data trail in 2015 as digital wallets become more and more popular. And most mobile-apps are cookie-free zones. Even social platforms including Facebook and LinkedIn are getting stricter on the type of second-party data offered to brands outside of the social media ecosystem. Instead, 2015 is the year of first-party data, much of which will need to be collected during 1:1 interactions.
To accomplish that, brands need some kind of easy online chat system. Indeed, there is a trend and emphasis on more personalized customer support for some of the larger brands as a means of improving the customer’s experience on a site — especially for health, beauty and apparel online retailers. Having a person on the other end is really helping brands stand apart from competitors, improving engagement on sites and allowing brands to collect personalized first-party data based on expressed desires.
When brands use this data to better segment audiences and create personalized email campaigns for customers, click-through rates will increase, particularly on mobile.
Micro-Content & Email Marketing
Mobile content needs to be shorter and easily readable on a small screen, and in 2015, brands will begin to get seriously creative about producing thumbnails, cropped images and slide decks to draw viewers with bite-sized chunks instead of long, overwhelming images. These images will naturally share well on social platforms and bridge the gap between email and social networks. In essence, brand emails will need to better resemble content layouts similar to offerings like those by The Skimm or OZY.
One trend that will continue to gain momentum is the ever-blurring lines between SEO, content and social. Historically, these groups have been siloed in an enterprise environment, which has always caused battles for budget, resources and time. But the congruence of these channels in an organization is growing, and large enterprises are just starting to understand how to make these channels play well with each other to maximize results.
Email is a perfect experimentation area to combine content, images and easily sharable information, all of which pushes back to a site and increases SEO by quality alone. For enterprises that haven’t figured this out yet, collaboration, cooperation, patience and shared understanding of metrics, tactics and keywords will be key to properly overlapping these channels for maximum effect.
In all, 2015 will be a year focused on mobile, with more and more consumers dedicating their loyalty to brands that focus on and provide the utmost in convenience and personalization. With email marketing that segments based on first-party data via on-site interactions, consumers simply want the world of data surrounding them to follow a moral code. What does that mean? Do unto their data as you would want done unto yours. It’s the golden rule, and it is even more important now for businesses than perhaps ever before.
Here are a few simple rules to follow in order to ensure your consumers’ data rights are being protected, while still maximizing your marketing efforts and increasing product page views and customer lifetime value:
- Ask for consumer consent: always ask for consumer consent to collect first- or second-party data (i.e., terms of service notifications).
- Create personalized experiences: collect data with consent and then use it to build personalized and engaging digital experiences through email marketing, SEO, etc.
- Security comes first: leave your reliance on data from transactions in the past. Instead, put consumer security top of mind: allow for one-touch checkouts and optimize your site for convenience.
With retailers including Target and Amazon already seeing more than 60% of their online traffic coming from mobile, optimizing for convenience and personalization is the best way to set your brand up for success in 2015.
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