Yesterday, marketing automation provider SharpSpring announced research saying marketing automation is the reason email performance is increasing, even as consumers slightly demote it from what Adobe termed its “alpha dog” status in 2016. The SharpSpring study titled “Agencies Talk: State of Email Marketing” says: “A total of 85 percent of marketing agencies say that email marketing performance is increasing, with half (50 percent) describing the increase as significant.”
Marketing automation’s impact on email performance is mostly due to marketing message personalization (48 of respondents term it effective); email testing and optimization (40 percent); relevant calls to action (37 percent); list data segmentation (32 percent); mobile responsive design (28 percent); and automated marketing campaigns (26 percent).
And while that 2017 study talks about the efficiency of email marketing, other research announced yesterday expands on the channel’s size and influence. WebsitesThatSell.com recounts that email marketing is “expected to grow at an average annual rate of 4.6 percent in coming years reaching over 257.7 billion by the end of 2020.
An Aug. 29, 2017, Adobe blog post by Kristin Naragon highlights insights from the “Adobe Consumer Email Survey Report 2017,” which found consumers spending 27 percent less time on email than they did in 2016:
“It turns out that consumers are still spending a large amount of time — 5.4 hours each weekday — checking email, and it’s still their preferred communication channel at work. Multitaskers even admit to checking email while walking, driving, attending formal ceremonies, talking on the phone, working out and even tucked into bed. All of this suggests that even though politicians and entertainers embrace staccato communication bursts, most consumers still prefer longer form, more intimate email messages when we reach out to colleagues, friends and family.”
The SharpSpring research shows six reasons email marketing performance is increasing:
Marketing Message Personalization
Representatives of 130 agencies using email marketing told SharpSpring their clients want to see ROI—meaning, conversions (58 percent) and clickthrough rates (51 percent). And personalization was the No. 1 marketing tactic that got them there.
Similarly, Naragon says Adobe found the highest percentage of consumers said they wanted marketers using that tactic, and using it well: “34 percent of consumers said they get frustrated when brands recommend items that don’t match their interests. Know your customers in order to communicate with them.”
Email Testing and Optimization
“Agencies must test and optimize (40 percent) to ensure the messages are effective, and again, marketing automation platforms make this a breeze,” the marketing automation provider’s report finds.
A 2017 blog post from VerticalResponse advises marketers to A/B test subject lines, frequency, days/times and calls to action.
Adobe says consumers find frequency matters to them a lot: “Pace Yourself: Half of consumers say that the most annoying thing about emails from brands is when they arrive too often. Respect the inbox zero crowd!”
Relevant Call to Action
Personalization helps the marketing messages be relevant, testing optimizes for what call to action resonates with email recipients and marketers can optimize much, much more.
Target Marketing talks about what colors work best on the buttons, Comm100 writes in 2017 that marketers must make the call to action obvious, simple and easy to click — as in, with a clearly visible link.
WebsitesThatSell.com finds marketers who provide promo codes in their emails activate customers who spend a third more than recipients who don’t get the codes.
“The more decisions that you ask users to make, the more they may not make any decision at all,” writes Kevin Gao, founder and CEO of Comm100.
Adobe says about relevance: “Inform: 40 percent of consumers told us that they wish email content was less promotional and more informative. They’re savvy about when someone’s selling too hard. Focus your messages on the information consumers want.”
List Data Segmentation
Different audiences may respond better at different times of day or at different times, finds Gao.
Comm100’s Gao advises:
If your email list is large enough that you're segmenting sub-lists, then you can also segment the writing of your email call-to-action text. Any time that you can make a call-to-action more specific to the demographic who is reading the email, you can improve the performance of that call-to-action. For example, if you are segmenting users by state, you may have one call to action that reads "Sign Up for Texas' Favorite Summer Activity List" and another that says "Sign Up for Florida's Favorite Summer Activity List," even if both lists provide complete national information rather than state-specific information.
Mobile Responsive Design
This is another important aspect of email performance that’s improving, SharpSpring’s respondents said.
Adobe says: “21 percent of consumers who check messages on mobile devices are annoyed about brands’ lack of mobile optimization. Make sure they aren’t waiting for images to load or scrolling too much.”
Automated Marketing Campaigns
“Point-and-click easy” campaigns mostly make life better for the marketer, which improves email marketing performance, survey respondents told SharpSpring.
“An outdated email service provider might make these tasks more challenging,” finds the research.
What do you think, marketers?
Please respond in the comments section below.
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