While other marketing technologies seem to come and go, or struggle to really stick as a sustainable strategy, email marketing continues to be an effective and reliable solution for marketers everywhere. Still delivering the highest ROI of any marketing channel, email has proven itself to be an integral part of every successful marketing strategy. Even when new technologies emerge and attempt to transform the way we communicate online, nothing has ever been able to replace email. Audiences simply prefer it more than any other medium when interacting with a brand.
2017 was another great year for email, but it was also a year that saw a lot of change and innovation. If you’re an email marketer, chances are you’re wondering what opportunities there will be for email in 2018, and also what challenges are up ahead. That’s why we took the chance to gather up some of the latest trend predictions and analyze them closely to see which skills email marketers would need to focus on, or learn, for the new year ahead. Keep these in mind when you’re planning new campaigns or considering changes to your email program in 2018:
Skill #1: Personalization
Marketers have known for years that personalized emails increase their opens and clicks, as well as their transaction rates, but many are still failing to properly use personalized experiences in their email strategy. If you’re one of these marketers, then it is time to make personalization a priority in 2018.
Customers today expect brands to know what they are interested in. There are many sophisticated tools available that can gather and track the customer data you need (such as demographics, user activity and engagement) to create consistent, relevant email content. Test a variety of tools and techniques to find the ones that work best at helping you deliver that one-on-one experience for your subscribers.
Skill #2: Segmentation
Segmentation is what makes personalization possible, so it will continue to be an important skill for email marketers in 2018. Segmenting your list involves organizing subscribers into groups based on the customer data you have, such as their position in the sales funnel, past purchases, buying habits, geographical location, personal demographics, preferences, and overall interest in your brand. Having segments in place allows you to craft unique content that caters to specific groups of users and their individual characteristics, rather than everyone grouped into the same general list. The result is highly targeted emails sent to the right people with the right message, and much better campaign results.
Skill #3: Interactive Design
Interactive design is all over the web right now, and 2017 was the year it took off in the inbox. Considered the top email marketing trend of 2017, interactivity is now being seen by experts as one of the best ways to increase customer engagement. Learning the technical skills required to incorporate content such as GIFs, CSS animations, collapsible carousels, image sliders, search bars, offer reveals, integrated forms, and add-to-cart functionality into your email designs will help you stay on top of this trend in 2018.
Skill #4: Omni-channel Optimization
Not only do customers today expect a personalized experience, as we mentioned above, but also a consistent experience, no matter what device or channel they use to connect with a brand. Since it is the preferred method of communication for customers, email has the power to collect data that can be leveraged across other marketing channels, making it a critical part of every omni-channel marketing strategy. More companies are planning to have an omni-channel strategy in place by 2018, so email campaigns will need to be optimized to gather all the data required to ensure a fluid multi-channel experience throughout the entire customer journey.
Skill #5: List Building
The success of email marketing relies on a marketer’s ability to grow and retain a list of engaged subscribers. Often this is done through a sign-up page or opt-in box on a company’s website, or some kind of special content (video, webinar, whitepaper, etc.) giveaway in exchange for an email address. But with the number of emails sent and received per day expected to reach 246 billion by the end of 2019, email marketers will struggle more than ever to gain visibility in the inbox.
If you want to keep your current subscribers engaged and also reach an even bigger audience, you will need to get creative and practice some new list building techniques. Luckily, several different ways to grow your list have emerged over the years. Some actionable ideas include coupons, special offers, freebies, quizzes, surveys, lead magnets, viral competitions, gated content, blogging, forums, and social media. Having a good understanding of what your subscribers are looking for and how they typically like to be engaged will help you choose which techniques are likely to work best in your 2018 email marketing strategy.
Skill #6: Deliverability
The ROI you see from your email marketing campaigns largely depends on your deliverability rate. All of the work you do on your campaign is meaningless if your email just ends up in a spam filter. Marketers need to continuously study the factors that affect the delivery of their emails, such as sender reputation, subscriber engagement, authentication, spam-flagging subject lines, bounce-backs, filtering, and content quality. Due to the emerging Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI) standard, authentication will be the most important area of focus for deliverability success in 2018.
Skill #7: Automation
Automation is all the rage for 2018, but it isn’t anything new. Many email marketers already use a number of different marketing automation platforms. These systems trigger user activity to send relevant, personalized messages to each subscriber at the best possible times. In recent years, several new developments have been made that allow marketers to create more elaborate workflows, take advantage of ultra sensitive triggers, and conduct analysis that helps them nurture leads all throughout the sales funnel.
In 2018, an even newer type of automation will be on the rise, as companies expand their features to blur the lines between marketing automation, email marketing, and CRM. As these features become more popular, email marketers who haven’t gotten on board with automation yet will want to make it one of their goals for 2018.
Skill #8: Data Analytics & Testing
Most email marketers know that in order for their efforts to be the most effective, they must know how to test every aspect of their campaign and analyze the results. Conducting tests on templates, dynamic content, and segments and measuring stats such as open rates, clickthroughs, conversions, bounces, and unsubscribes can all help you pinpoint the areas where improvement is needed in your strategy.
In 2018, experts are predicting that even more advanced testing and data analytic practices will be implemented, such as the testing of multi-channel, multi-touch, and multi-path customer journeys and the measuring of predictive marketing metrics. Email marketers will need to experiment with the latest technology so they can make informed decisions about which practices will provide the most powerful insights and profitable results.
What email marketing skills do you think will be important in 2018? If you have any ideas for expanding our list, we’d love for you to leave a comment below!