4 things I learnt about email marketing in 2013

When starting my placement here at Red C in June, I found myself in a whole new marketing world in which I had to learn a lot about everything relating to marketing in a very short space of time, and in particular email marketing. The team I was part of had been managing email marketing campaigns for one of our biggest clients for over 5 years, so their knowledge and experience about email marketing really helped me learn and develop the skills I needed. From the history of email marketing to how it has evolved into what it is today, my knowledge has rapidly expanded in less than a year.

Below are four of the key things that I have learnt about email marketing in 2013 that has put me on good stead when it comes to pulling off a successful email marketing campaign.

Emails must be mobile friendly

The popularity of mobile devices is growing continuously every year, and in 2013 we defiantly saw a rise in the number of people using their smart phones to read their emails. A recent statistic from Econsultancy suggested 41% of emails were opened on mobile devices in 2013 compared to 21% in 2012. That figure is only going to get bigger, meaning more and more brands need to start designing responsive, mobile-friendly emails.

After all, if your customer tried to open an email on their mobile and it didn’t render properly, they’d almost certainly delete it. And that’s not going to do your brand any favours.

When it comes to designing responsive design is the best option. It’s a one size fits all design that ensures your email will be compatible for both mobile and desktop.

Pros of responsive email
• No need to create a separate version of your email
• Better customer experience as its easier to read and navigate around
• Consistent experience across all devices

Cons of responsive email
• The email file size will be larger therefore taking slightly longer to load
• The email will take longer to build

The new buzzword is “content”

2013 saw an increase in brands focusing on content marketing and the demand for good quality, relevant content within emails. Understanding what kind of content interests your audience is really important and I have learned that emails are not just about selling your products but also to provide value added content. Whether the content is about demonstrating expertises, building trust or just entertaining and educating your customers, it will defiantly improve interaction with your brand.

Featuring content within your email campaigns in the form of a competition or an infographic can really create a personality for your brand and can even increase your database. The more interesting the content, the more likely your audience are going to share it via social media platforms, which is what you really want to happen. This is a really powerful, easy way to get your content out and seen by potential new customers.

Gmail tabs: good or bad?

In May 2013 Gmail introduced a new tabbed inbox, where emails are now pre-sorted into five different tabs. This can cause potential problems for marketers and their email campaigns, as a chunk of their database may be using Gmail and therefore their emails may be stuck within the promotional tab, instead of being in the primary tab.
If your email is under the promotions tab, the recipient has to actively seek it out to read. Some marketer’s think this is unlikely, meaning fewer people reading your emails. However having them all under one tab, makes it more likely that recipients will set time aside to peruse all their promotional emails in one go. It’s worth bearing in mind that if someone has signed up for your emails, they should be expecting them, so will seek them out to read.

One option to get seen in the Gmail inbox is to send an email out advising your Gmail-using customer how to make sure they get your emails in their primary tab. Another option would be to optimise your email campaigns to make sure it stands out in the inbox. These techniques could include:
• Personalisation
• Monitoring the time and quantity of emails your sending out
• Featuring interesting content
• Eye-catching subject lines

Marketers are competing more than ever in the Gmail inbox and I am sure this will continue in 2014.

The most important word in email marketing is “test”

Continually testing your emails is really important in order for you to target and understand your audience. 2013 saw a strong need for segmentation within databases as emails become more targeted and relevant in order to be noticed in the crammed inbox.

You can break down your email testing by pretty much anything. It’s probably best to firstly segment your data by age, gender or customer type and from there you can test things like the navigation, the design of the email, subject lines and content. It’s essential that you keep testing emails over and over to get the best understanding of your data base; there is always something that you can test again due to the constant development of both emails and consumer behaviour.

Email is constantly changing. In 5 years time who knows what our emails will look like! But with how technology is evolving we can definitely do some predictions. Something to look out for in our emails is dynamic live content. This is exciting, as emails will be able to become a lot more advanced and intriguing. The emails could include live countdowns/weather updates and be able to play videos as you open it.

Considering I knew little about email marketing when I first started at Red C, I now have a much greater understanding of the essentials and the challenges that may face email marketing in the future. So, all in all, I’ve learnt a heck of a lot in 2013 about email marketing, and I doubt that will stop in 2014.