5 Great Email-Marketing Lessons from MarketingSherpa

Getting embroiled in the details of our everyday work is all too easy. When attending a conference, however, we have the opportunity to back away from the details, learn about new industry strategies, and get important reminders about the basics, too. After returning from MarketingSherpa’s Email Summit 2011, I compiled a list of the latest and greatest email-marketing lessons to share with you.

    1. Optimize your email for mobile platforms.
      Karen Rubin of the Internet marketing company HubSpot shared some data about the percentage of emails opened using mobile email readers. Based upon the study presented, the market share of email readers were the following:

      • Outlook – 31%
      • Yahoo Mail – 15%
      • MSN/Hotmail – 11%
      • Apple Mail – 10%
      • iPhone – 9%
      • Gmail – 7%
      • Android – 3%
      • Other – 14%

      Noticeably absent from this list is the Blackberry. Since most versions of the Blackberry used a text reader, there was no way to track their market share.

      Based upon another study conducted by the digital marketing company Knotice of 155 million emails sent, 13% of the emails were opened using a mobile device.

      So, with the numbers of mobile email readers indicated by these studies, ignoring them in your email-marketing efforts may be detrimental to your results.

      Here are a few things to keep in mind for optimizing your email-marketing campaigns for mobile platforms:

      • Avoid large images
      • Keep the emails short
      • Avoid a lot of tables and columns
      • Send multipart emails with a text version
      • Don’t use excessively long subject lines (not a good idea anyway)

      Not sure if mobile readers are an issue for you? Check out Unica Pivotal Veracity’s MailboxIQ product to get a good measure of how your subscribers are opening your emails.

    2. Conduct deliverability tests regularly.
      A number of session leaders at the conference discussed problems they or their clients had with getting emails delivered. There are so many issues that could impact deliverability, so testing before sending is important. With the introduction of Gmail and Facebook priority email boxes – as well as Internet service providers’ (ISPs) movement towards “engagement” metrics versus IP reputation – getting emails to recipients is becoming increasingly difficult.There are many ways to address these challenges, but you should at least test how emails are being rendered. For example, test whether they’re making it into the regular inbox versus junk mail. And, if you’re having serious problems, contact a professional email-marketing agency, such as FulcrumTech, for assistance in uncovering and addressing any deliverability problems. Remember, even a 1% improvement in your deliverability could have a significant impact on your return on investment over a 12-month period.
    3. Keep in mind text emails can outperform a designed version.
      Flint McLaughlin of the Internet-based market research company Marketing Experiments reminded us that design doesn’t always drive results in email marketing. Be as clear as you can be about your message. You likely don’t need to clutter the message with design elements; however, be sure to test the variations. McLaughlin showed a test in which the control was an HTML-designed email. A three-treatment test was conducted, and the text version beat the control by 42%.
    4. Be relevant – it’s critical to your results.
      As you may already know, Marketing Experiments represents email messaging effectiveness as a formula that includes a variable for “relevance.” Relevance currently dominates and will likely become even more important with the changing landscape of ISPs’ migration to engagement metrics. Engagement metrics measure the extent to which recipients are opening, reading (i.e., engaged for more than a couple of seconds), and interacting with your emails.Consider how you can make your emails more relevant. McLaughlin refers to internal and external relevance as opportunities for connecting better with your recipients. Internal relevance refers to personal information you may know about a reader, including shopping habits and personal interests. On the other hand, external relevance is the leveraging of elements such as seasonality and news events. If you know people are already paying attention to a certain external event, consider how you can tie your messaging into that.

  1. Give to get.
    David Meerman Scott, author of Real-Time Marketing & PR, spoke about the importance of removing barriers to the content and tools that can help your prospects and clients. Instead of using a sign-up form prior to downloading an incredibly valuable white paper, for example, he suggests marketers make it available without requiring a form submission to get significantly wider distribution and PR (as much as 300 times).When you make it easy for people to get and give your content away, the viral, social media machine can dramatically improve your reach. By making it possible for people to tweet a URL to share a particularly valuable white paper, imagine how many people will help you get the word out. (Of course, it needs to be a great white paper!)

These were just a few of the hot topics covered at the MarketingSherpa’s Email Summit 2011. Join in the discussion and let us know your perspectives on them. We look forward to hearing from you!

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