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The very first email was sent in 1971. But email marketing really took off in 1994. That year, everybody was rushing to the cinema to see The Lion King and Forrest Gump. They listened to Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” and Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah”. Kids were putting the first Playstation on their Santa’s list. And modern Email Marketing appeared. That year e-commerce kicked off and the internet community expanded due to e.g. low-cost providers, free Hotmail accounts and the first global search engine: Yahoo.
Almost a quarter of a century later, has email marketing reached full maturity? Is there still room for innovation?
Is there any credible alternative to email marketing today?
How essential and future proof is email in your omni-channel strategy today? Do we have a better channel ready to replace it? Compared to email, direct mail is too expensive. Telemarketing is too intrusive and plain text SMS lacks communication impact. Notifications on our mobile phones are interesting, but volatile. Social ads will certainly end up being an alternative. But they just don’t provide enough personalization yet. And personalized retargeted banners are often perceived as too intrusive and a bit creepy.
Today email does not have any credible alternative when you look for:
Does email marketing still hold potential to reach for the stars?
Has email already reached the limits of its potential? Is there no further need for innovation? There is definitely room for improvement. For example: when you send an email to your own email database (people that asked to receive your communications) on average 25% of the recipients open your message, of which 25% are going to click. That is an overall efficiency of 6%. Yes, you can certainly do better. Let’s remember that the first steam trains had an energy efficiency of only 5,4%, while hi-tech magnetic trains have moved up to 95%.
So which challenges should the innovative email marketer tackle? The Digital Consultants at Bisnode are talking to hundreds of clients and prospects per year. Here is the top-7 of their aspirations for truly future proof email marketing.
7 innovation pathways to explore to bring email marketing to the next level
1. Find a better peace settlement between opt-ins and spam filters
The rise of the spam filters in 2003 forced email marketers to rethink the way mails were designed. Today, even mails to customers who opted in to receive them, can still be blocked by spam filters. For reasons such as:
Couldn’t we find better ways to manage authorizations? How can we give the decision-making power back to the consumer? By using more sympathetic spam filters?
2. What if we could target with the precision to put a man on Mars?
When we target prospects, we usually reduce them to one or two basic types: our average customers. We may also picture a few niche profiles too. In this rough-cut process we are bound to lose a lot of potential buyers. Why? Because we stick too much to ‘surface criteria’. We focus on their socio-demographic profiles, their lifestyles, interests, online behaviors and customer life cycles.
We should shift to criteria that truly drive the behavior of potential buyers: their motivations, problems, emotions, triggers and priorities. We should switch from the ‘Who’ and ‘What’ to the “’Why’ and ‘How’. We can do this by shifting from Classic Personas to Psychographic Personas. For example: it is not about targeting ‘the 60+ woman’. It’s about addressing ‘the 60+ woman who cares a lot about her looks’. This is the first step to finally target all the persons with an actual ‘I keep improving my looks’ behavior and stop segregating potential prospects based on socio demographic data.
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Curious about the next 5 major topics of improvements for a bright future in email marketing?