As an entrepreneur with a vested interested in email, not so long ago I’d argue with anyone that email marketing wasn’t a commodity. A recent conversation with an industry colleague changed my perspective. Looking at Merriam-Webster, a commodity is a ‘mass-produced unspecialized product’. By that definition, the sending of old-fashioned email blasts is clearly a commodity. Everybody can (and likely does) do it.
If you treat email marketing a as a commodity then you'll get commodity results. However, by understanding the sequence of events from audience selection, to composition, to deliverability and timing, and finally to initial attention and reader engagement, you can optimize each step of the process. In our experience, many of biggest wins are to be had in the beginning of the chain, by focussing on deliverability. Deliverability takes a specialized focus to achieve, but is impacted by every part of the process (including audience selection and content), so we think it’s a great lens to use in evaluating your effectiveness.
Email service providers (Google, Microsoft, etc.) are increasing their defenses to combat SPAM and deliverability rates across every industry are suffering. Even though your marketing automation system "reports" an email as being delivered to a recipient, email deliverability does not equal inbox placement. However, there are steps you can take to increase the deliverability of your marketing communications.
We talk quite a bit about artificial intelligence in email and how it's changing the competitive landscape for inbox attention and for those that are implmenting it. There's never been a time in marketing that a transformational shift is occuring and the great thing is so many new technologies exist that can drive increased audience engagment. For example, content (check out 8seconds), send time and cadence (check out Seventh Sense - shameless plug) and email address capture (check out LeadGnome). If you're not leveraging or thinking about AI with your email programs, you’ll either get ahead of your competitors, or fall behind!
In order to separate your email from the pack, your email strategy needs to cover the entire process. We’ve tried to provide some tips to improve each step:
- audience selection
- technical deliverability
- timing and cadence
- attention-getting subject line and abstract
- relevant and meaningful content