Email marketing has been around for quite a while now, having enjoyed its 40th anniversary last year. The first-ever marketing email went out in 1978 from a company called Digital Equipment Corporation via the ARPANET, the predecessor to the internet. It drew some privacy complaints from the 400 or so folks on the receiving end, but accomplished its intended goal—generating sales—$13 million, in fact.
Forty-one years later, this tried and true marketing tool is still going strong, and entering a new era. Spam filters require far more thought to circumvent, making mobile-friendly emails not simply a good idea, but now vital. Ensuring your entire list is viewing exactly what you want should be on the top of your to-do list, as well.
In short, using the same old tricks of the trade is getting stale, and there are some new wrinkles you need to be aware of to keep open rates high and click-through rates even higher.
Below are three specific areas experiencing significant change of late that require your immediate attention.
It’s a wonderful thing that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are waging this very justified war against spammers. However, legit email marketers are being caught in the crossfire. If you’re not dealing with spam traps or avoiding spam trigger words, you’re working around anti-spam laws. Yes, spam kills.
Here are several of the most effective ways to maneuver through the anti-spam maze:
Use an email address with your personal name and/or your brand name, as email service providers pay a great deal of attention to the ‘from’ field. The newest anti-spam technology now uses reputation-based filtering, so if your brand/personal name is clean, the filter will assume your emails will be, as well.
Test your email’s spam-proof score before hitting send using a tool like Mail Tester (there are many: Putsmail, Inbox Inspector, Mailtrap, EmailReach, etc.). These programs actually mimic spam filters and provide a score that details where your email stands against them.
Another easy and very effective way to avoid spam filters is to keep your email lists clean. Emails to inactive addresses and dormant subscribers are damaging to your sender reputation, as well as to your deliverability. Delete these from your list, and always make sure to ask your active subscribers to confirm whether they want to continue receiving your emails.
You can also get a third-party sender accreditation that certifies to ISPs you are not a spammer. As long as you adhere to certain accreditee usage guidelines, you’ll be placed on a trusted listing that ISPs frequently reference, which will allow your emails to avoid spam filters.
"Simply stated, the winners in the email marketing wars will be those that remain most agile, innovative, and stay closest to what their customers really want: value."
Engaging With Content on the Fly
You may have noticed that an overwhelming number of people are now opening their emails on their smartphones. According to email marketing consultant Adestra, 70% of emails not optimized for mobile will be deleted. Attention-getting, right? If you haven’t already, it is clearly time to account for where, when, and how your subscribers are engaging with your email campaigns.
Building your email strategy around the desktop computer runs counter to what is happening today regarding how audiences are consuming content. Again, we’ll turn to numbers to illustrate that point, as according to a recent study by Adestra, in 2019, 62% of email campaigns are now being opened on mobile devices. The percentage of emails opened on a desktop computer is down to less than 10%.
What is happening on the tech front with both IOS and Android smartphones is worth keeping an eye on as well. It’s important to note that the manufacturers of these devices are designing them with display in mind—super high-res, ultra bright, large displays, to be exact. Familiarizing yourself with terms like E Ink (electrophoretic or electronic ink), OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) and AMOLED (Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode) is prudent, as tailoring your emails to the advantages these technologies offer will only enhance the user experience.
The mobile readers of your emails are able to research and then make purchasing decisions in minutes. Making sure your emails are enhancing this process, not bogging it down, is essential. As you can see, it’s now about being mobile-first as much as it is about being mobile-friendly.
Testing, One, Two, Three, Testing
You can’t go wrong testing everything about your email campaigns, from where to place your CTA and what color you choose for the button, to subject lines and pre-header text (the short, descriptive summary after the subject line). You’re undoubtedly using A/B testing for these elements of your emails, however, at the top of list of what to test for is how your email will look to the recipients as they open it, because what looks great in one inbox may not look the same in another.
"Testing your emails using any of the myriad email testing software providers enables you to see how your email looks running through all the major email clients."
When you check out various reports on email client market share, you’ll see that varying percentages of people are opening emails on an iPhone, through Gmail, Outlook, or perhaps even Yahoo. There are roughly 1,000 different email clients out there, each with different rendering engines for displaying your email.
Images might be auto-blocked, that clever animated GIF might not display, and engaging embedded video may not run. Testing your emails using any of the myriad email testing software providers enables you to see how your email looks running through all the major email clients.
Knowing how your email will render on the other end, before you ever hit send, not only provides peace of mind, but also guarantees all recipients are seeing the same message and all that hard work you put into your email marketing effort was received, viewed, and understood by your entire list.
Simply stated, the winners in the email marketing wars will be those that remain most agile, innovative, and stay closest to what their customers really want: value.