3 Trends to Monitor in Email Delivery
There's a reason, despite repeated predictions, why email marketing isn't dead yet — because it works. Email consistently yields one of the highest returns on investment of any marketing channel, but only when properly executed. Proper execution means keeping on top of the latest trends. So, here are three things to look for:
1. This isn't your father's internet. According to a 2008 survey conducted by MarketingSherpa and Q Interactive, among email recipients who clicked on their provider's "This Is Spam" button, 25 percent did so because they received too much mail from that particular sender. A 2009 Merkle study revealed that 73 percent of respondents who opted out of permission-based email did so because mailings were too frequent. These are signs that overmailing (i.e., list fatigue) isn't only a real problem facing email marketers, it's a fast growing problem.
While many are wondering if social networking means the death of email, the smart marketer will take this opportunity to diversify the message streams they use to get information to clients, customers and prospects.
According to The Nielsen Company, 31 percent of Americans owned smartphones at the beginning of this year, and 43 percent of those users have mobile apps, according to a September 2010 report from the Pew Research Center. Time-sensitive communications might be sent via SMS, while short, routine messages may be sent via a social networking site, leaving email for more important communications. Email isn't likely to die any time soon, but the challenge is finding the proper mix of text messaging, social networking and email to maximize return on effort.
2. It takes two to tango. Many email marketers currently view the process of customer communication as simply a one-to-many process. Email marketing is comparable to standing before a crowded auditorium and giving a speech without the burden of having to stop from time to time for applause. Marketers who continue to engage in this method of communication will find themselves likely to be marginalized more and more often.
As internet service providers (ISPs) work at creating new models revolving around user engagement, another metric that will garner much attention will be reciprocal flows of communication. Google uses this particular metric in combination with the use of authentication as a means of determining if images in a message should be turned on by default.
Senders who have received two replies from a Gmail user will find that their images have been turned on without any need for the recipient to do anything. It should be expected that over the coming year ISPs may begin to penalize organizations who choose to put their recipients at arm's length. Gmail's Priority Inbox is one very public example of this process in use. Priority Inbox is just one logical next step in the evolving process of gauging recipient engagement and sender intention.
As a result of these anticipated developments, certain changes to the way email is sent should be contemplated. Primarily, the use of "noreply@" or anything similar should no longer be used. It sets a tone that says the sender doesn't consider email to be a two-way communication and that recipients are merely names on a list.
Senders should consider actively encouraging readers to send feedback. The use of a solid call to action encouraging user feedback will help to prove that recipients are engaged as they click through or send return emails, as well as provide senders with valuable insights that will help improve the content of mailings.
3. You control your destiny. An email service provider (ESP) is able to do many things, but there are also many things they have little control over, such as email content and frequency. These areas are under the complete control of marketers. Unfortunately, as things move forward and the consequences of poor emailing practices become apparent, it's the ESPs who tend to bear the brunt of the blame when things go wrong.
Marketers who take responsibility for what they send will tend to do better than those who flip between ESPs when delivery rates begin to drop. Email marketers who are willing to take ownership of what they're sending will also be the ones who are willing to do what's necessary to implement improvements to their processes.
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