Six Hard-Hitting Questions About the Future of Email >

business-office-morning-coffee-picjumbo-comIt’s almost time to start thinking up new campaigns and strategies for 2017. As we (frighteningly quickly) draw near the end of this year, we think there’s no better time than now to ask ourselves some hard questions about email–where’s it’s going, what it should do and how it should do it.

We came up with six hard-hitting marketing questions and tossed them over to a couple of BrightWave’s hardest hitters, VP of Customer Experience Rich Wilson and Senior Strategist Andrea Short.

Here’s what they had to say.

What are your “rules” for impactful email marketing? What would you recommend?

Rich: If you don’t try to matter, you won’t matter. It’s important that engagement goals aren’t sacrificed for sales goals. You can treat an audience like a lemon and squeeze as much juice as possible or you can treat your database like an orchard, which can be harvested from time to time but needs continual care and nurturing.

Andrea: Every email should serve an explicit purpose beyond “drive sales.” Though still a valuable workhorse in the marketing arsenal, email needs to deliver a more tailored, customized experience for the subscriber. If you need to move 100 more units, identify those mostly likely to respond to that message at the time you’re sending it. 

Think of your own inbox. What annoys you about today’s email marketing?

Rich: It’s clear that most marketers aren’t taking the time to figure out how to earn my attention. It may be just because I’m in the industry but I personally am strict on what I keep around in terms of subscriptions.

Andrea:  Brands are becoming much more effective in their use of personalization with behavioral triggers based on actions taken within the email and on the website, etc. It’s annoying that many still don’t allow me to customize my experience via a preference center that lets me select types of emails I want (only sales, only new products, etc), cadence and specific content.

What do you think email will look like five years from now? With new mediums emerging (i.e. Snapchat, Instagram, livestreaming) will email marketing continue to make an impact?
Rich: Email inboxes are more intimate than social feeds. New filtering technologies and demands of ISPs will keep email a safe haven for more meaningful messages for some time. To look further than five years out in this industry is pure guesswork. However, if the recent trends towards delivering value and protecting the inbox from noise continue, I think there’s a good chance that email in some form will survive and thrive.

Andrea: Is this another way to ask if email marketing is dead? Email isn’t dead.

Tracking the wrong metrics can lead to results that indicate failure. What are the right metrics to measure in email marketing?

Rich: The standard list of opens, clicks and bounces still apply, but stickiness matters. We should treat an open as a partial win. Looking at the various second actions within a considered window of time will tell us the real value in context.

Andrea: There is a unique KPI for every campaign, and that should be identified ahead of time. More important here is being able to track the customer all the way through. What happened after they left the email? Did they download the white paper, purchase the product, write the review? Conversion metrics are key to proving the value of the email program as a whole.

How should marketers be prioritizing email vs. other mediums?

Andrea: I’ll let Rich take this one.

Rich: The obvious answer as an email marketer is that it should be first priority. However, without a large, healthy list, priority should be given to acquisition which often means spending time getting to know your customers enough to be able to create content that gets them to an opt-in page. Email can help do many things, but again, the farmer analogy fits here. We need to gather seeds, plant them, water them and be careful in how we harvest so not as to damage the field as a whole.

People get so many emails. How can brands stand out from the “noise?”

Rich: The only way to stand out is to be meaningful. It’s not about tricking people to click or being wacky for the sake of wacky. Understanding the customer at a personal level allows an intuitive email marketer to deliver value and be heard. It’s much better than screaming.

Andrea: Relevance. Period. Know me, know what I want, send it when it makes sense.

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