The Future of Email Marketing: Part 2

February 13, 2015

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In Part 1 of our three-part series on The Future of Email Marketing, we talked about four trends that will change the future of marketing: personalized email communication, the key to cross-channel marketing, integration with other marketing channels, and automated email campaigns.

Despite having the best return on investment than any other digital marketing tool ($44.25 return for every $1 spent), people insist email marketing is dead. Here's the truth. It is expected there will be 4.9 billion email addresses in the world by 2017. 91% of consumers use email at least once a day. It's not dead. And it's not going anywhere.

Let's explore six factors that can affect your agency's email marketing in part two of this three-part series.

  1. Strategy and Campaign Planning - Developing a great strategy is always a top priority in effective email marketing. My best advice when planning your strategy is to write all your ideas down. Even if you don't think it is a good idea, write it down. These ideas may develop into something amazing as you continue brainstorming.

    Before putting your ideas into action, remember to think about what comes next. What you would like to see as the outcome of your email strategy? Describe your goals and how you're going to achieve them. The magic is in reaching your goals and mapping them to the right email marketing results (click-through rate, conversions, etc.). Getting more opens is great. But did those opens lead to more conversions? Did those conversions lead to more new policies?

  2. Automated Campaigns and Marketing Automation - The adoption of email marketing automation is important and for good reason. If you automate the right type of campaigns they can garner good results, even with lower volumes. 78% of agency owners say automating emails was responsible for improving conversions and profits! WOO HOO!

    Picking the right campaigns to work is the most important step. You want to look for high impact, low time investment emails with an increase in activity of your subscribers. Think a birthday campaign is old fashioned, unimportant or corny? Not as long as it works! And believe me, it does. A simple birthday campaign adds a timely communication to all contacts on your list.

  3. Segmentation - Split up your database into groups by characteristics so you can send targeted messages.

    My Tip: Segmentation isn't something you do because you can, or because it is the right thing to do to be successful. If there isn't any added value to segmenting a specific mailing, save yourself some time, and don't do it. Segmentation is not worth it if it doesn't pay off in the end. Value comes first. An alternative would be to write a message that is appealing to many groups instead of being specific. Then segment your results by demographic. Send out the same email, but look at which groups respond best and to which themes and parts of your messaging. This will help you learn what excites each segment of your agency's audience.

  4. Insights from Measurement and Analytics - I've said it a hundred times, but it's worth repeating one more time. You can't analyze or improve on what you don't measure. Analytics goes beyond the number of clicks an email gets. Inside of AgencyBuzz there is a plethora of helpful statistics at your fingertips. As soon as emails are out the door, you can see real-time statistics telling you how many and which people opened, clicked, bounced and so on.

    A note on tracking your statistics: Email marketing programs track opens using images. When an email client downloads a specific image in your email, the download gets tracked and counted as an open. Some email clients like Gmail, do not download images from emails. If the user doesn't opt to download images from the email, it is possible the contact read your entire email sans images. This will affect your open rate because it won't count. Because of this, it is best to compare one complete campaign to another as opposed to checking each individual open. Besides, we're looking at more than just opens. We want engagement, which gets tracked regardless of image downloads.

    My Tip: Go beyond the dashboard with each email you send and track the statistics yourself. Make a report each time you send an email or at a regular time interval if you send often. Write down:

    1. What worked in this campaign?
    2. What isn't working?
    3. What is still unanswered after looking over my stats?

    I used to work for the IIA before coming to ITC, and I used to do this all the time. With each email sent, I would create a short report. And this was before having something like AgencyBuzz. It allowed me to focus on what was important, what questions I needed to answer moving forward, and set a reminder of things I needed to fix.

  5. List / Data Quality - Growing your list into a bigger, more active audience is a great way to improve your email marketing. Data quality can be an issue. Are the people on your list still interested and the preferences they gave you two years ago still accurate? To keep your data up to date, scrub your lists. Contact your list once a year to update their preferences and interests. One more thing: Never buy lists of email addresses. Never.

  6. Deliver Relevant Communication - The truth is, it is impossible to be relevant all the time to everyone. Make sure your emails have value that speak to the recipients. Knowing their needs will help you. Make your emails more valuable, or address more parts of your list. You will see more engagement from your clients.

In the third and final part of this series, we'll talk about what the future holds for email marketing in the world of insurance.

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