Email has been around for decades, but instead of declining in popularity with time like other channels -- think of MySpace, or the recent news that Facebook lost around 2.8 million users in 2017 -- more users sign up for new email accounts every day. Because email usage is as steady as it is ubiquitous, email remains the most cost-effective method of communicating with customers, with an ROI of 4400%, according to a Campaign Monitor study.
With that being said, the same email marketing strategy for small businesses that worked five years ago may no longer be best practices. That’s why we take time each year to study the past year’s consumer behavior trends, take stock of any new email marketing automation tools and features at our disposal, and decide whether these factors necessitate a change to our email marketing strategies going forward.
As they say, teamwork makes the dream work, so instead of pondering the future of email marketing alone we reached out to top email marketing experts who shared their best tips for email marketing mastery and predictions for what will be big in 2018. Here’s what they had to say:
At The Good we're seeing a trend of ecommerce sites optimizing outbound marketing emails, but neglecting their post-purchase email sequences. Post-purchase emails cannot just stop at the usual order confirmation – there needs to be a whole sequence in place to setup your post-purchase emails for big conversion results. When optimized, post-purchase emails can drive online revenue with an extremely high return on investment, since you're converting customers at zero marketing expense.
-Jon MacDonald, The Good
In 2018, marketers will be buzzing about marketing automation and smarter use of customer data, but how do you build a successful marketing automation plan (e.g. email marketing sequence) if the data in your CRM is outdated? I’m very excited about the social data and how it can enrich your existing customer data.
Customer data obtained from social channels is by nature real-time and up-to-date. It gives you an overview of customer’s interests outside your services, and analysing the data enables you to predict their behaviour and the right timing to serve relevant content via email marketing platforms (and other channels). I bet matching the data of your existing customers, leads captured with tools like MailMunch, and the social data will be highlighted yellow on the notebooks of forward-thinking marketers looking to create a truly omnichannel customer experience.
-Toni Hopponen, Flockler
We work with nonprofit clients, and one email marketing trend more organizations will need to embrace in 2018 is mobile responsive design. Studies show at least 40 percent of gifts made in response to an email come from mobile devices, yet many fundraising emails and donation pages are not mobile responsive. Sticking to short subject lines, designing single-column emails and writing scannable copy are simple, practical ways nonprofits can instantly boost engagement with their donor database.
-Summy Lau, Winspire Me
Email marketing will continue to be a driving force in how businesses connect with their customers. With this trend, business owners must continue to adapt to the accessible ways that customers read email. Mobile is the future and any business that wants continued growth must take heed. Emails will only become easier to read and interact with on smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices over time, making mobile accessibility no longer an option but a necessity. I also see email marketing competing with social media as far as reach and influence. Despite the rising use of social media, people still want that one on one interaction that an email provides.
Another trend I see in email marketing is that small businesses especially will continue to see the value in email automation and integrate it even further into their business operations. There are so many great features that allow you to customize your emails to customers while still using an automated solution and I cant see small business owners especially not taking advantage of this.
-Adrian M. White, AMW Site Designs
The push towards a more personalized email experience with content aimed directly at individuals specific needs and desires, will continue to be a major influence in how companies will look at email marketing. Whether this is through AI intelligence or just elbow grease, the ability to create one email, but have specific personalized content created to target several different individuals or groups all at once, each receiving a specific marketing message, will become the go-to strategy in 2018.
-Bill Walls, In Touch Marketing
Be relevant. Know your audience. Know how to reach them and know what they want to hear. Don’t throw everything against the wall and see what sticks. Today’s technology gives you the ability to narrow your target and messaging down to the most granular level. Don’t ignore those capabilities!
-Jamie Leszczynski, ABC Creative Group
More businesses are seeing the light and shifting away from interruptive marketing activities to embrace an inbound methodology. Our prediction for 2018 is that more businesses are going to put a stronger focus on keeping the customer happy post sale, and utilize email to help create an army of loyal brand fanatics.
-Chris Onyett, Roketto
Email is such a mainstay in our toolbox of marketing tactics. Trends don’t always have a large impact on how we use email, but the growth in the sophistication of tools has been a big factor.
In 2018, I predict that email will continue to be an important arrow in a marketer’s quiver, and we will continue to make better use of automation tools. The performance of marketing emails comes down to how relevant and valuable the information is for readers. To that end, email marketers in 2018 should be looking how to make better use of automation tools. Things like adding more sophistication to how we segment lists and personalize those automated emails, with an eye on performance. There is tremendous value in building an email list of customers and potential leads. In spite of all of the “email is dying” prognosticators, I think it’s here to stay in 2018 and beyond.
-Jordan Behan, Vonigo
As social communication tools continue to emerge, I strongly believe that the new, bright era for email is coming! With more and more tools, innovations and amazing solutions, we are able to reach the right audience faster and in a more reliable way.
I think that email marketing in 2018 will be all about personalization and automation. Now as never before, we have to do more to attract the attention of our users and customers. So, we collect the data about our subscribers in various ways and automation campaigns are a really cool way of using it. It’s a great way to provide subscribers with relevant content only because the technology honors their interests, behavior and values.
-Anna Kawa, Elastic Email
Email marketers will stop worrying so much about metrics like open rate and click-through rate. While important, these metrics are just the first step. What you really need to measure are revenue-focused metrics. Ask yourself questions like: How much revenue can be attributed to this specific email campaign? Does this campaign increase repeat purchase rate? These are the numbers that really matter.
-Eric Keating, Zaius
Want a straightforward way to stay on top of email marketing trends like these? It’s easy with MailMunch. Sign up today!