To paraphrase Mark Twain, the reports of email marketing's death have been greatly exaggerated.
"For all the popularity of social media, 92 percent of adult internet users maintain at least one email account and 59 percent of marketers say they believe email is the best outlet for generating revenue," says John Hayes, marketing strategist, iContact, Vocus's email marketing arm. Indeed, if anything, the increase in the use of social media and mobile devices has increased email marketing's effectiveness. That said, there are always ways to improve your email marketing.
To find out how you can generate a better return--or click-through rate--on your email marketing this year, CIO.com queried experts from Constant Contact, Emma, iContact and Mad Mimi. Following are their seven picks for email marketing trends you should leverage in 2013.
1. Take advantage of mobile. Thanks to smartphones and tablets, "email is no longer tethered to a PC or laptop, or restricted to when people have access to their computer," says Hayes. "People now carry their email around with them everywhere and engage with it frequently throughout the day. This means marketers can now better target prospects, delivering more time sensitive offers (i.e., restaurant vouchers prior to lunch or sales promotions during busy shopping periods)." ]
2. Forget the bells and whistles."Multi-column email layouts can be lovely in [computer] inboxes, but for success in the mobile device arena, the single column format is best," says Dean Levitt, chief of Culture, Mad Mimi. "For all the sophistication of mobile devices, email marketers see the most success with layouts that have as little noise' [i.e., graphics, photos and video] as possible and the call to action visible without scrolling."
3. Use email to monetize social. "In 2013, marketers will discover that email is the key element driving social media marketing results," states Ron Cates, director of New Market Development, Constant Contact.
"The easiest way to drive customers to [your] company is by linking to social channels in email campaigns, ensuring that your social content is seen by a wider audience that has already expressed an interest in receiving your email content by joining your mailing list," Cates says.
4. Change your focus from sales-based to education-based. "Today, many marketers view email campaigns primarily as a product or service showcase," says Cates. "They display their newest offerings, and then provide direct links to purchase. However, even with great deals and promotions, customers are becoming bored with the bombardment of sales pitches," he says.
With that in mind instead of constantly lobbing sales pitches to current and prospective customers, provide content that adds value--e.g., useful information about a topic or problem--without pushing a particular product or service.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.