4 Email Marketing Strategies Every Marketer Should Know

As new channels emerge, email is one of the only constants for consumers. They are still opening emails, reading them, and purchasing products because of them. Email is still the number one channel for ROI (among all digital marketing mediums) for a reason. It works.

But expectations of emails have changed — and rightfully so.

The more success marketers find with email marketing, the more we try to exploit the channel for more wins. We’re sending more emails with more offers than ever before.

One problem.

If we’re all sending more emails, our contacts are receiving more emails.

Now take a step back and rethink your email strategy. Are the emails you’re sending strong enough to cut through the clutter to reach each of your contacts? Is the contents engaging enough to earn clicks from your contacts and result in purchases?

Chances are they’re not.

Customers are no longer accepting stale, one-size-fits-all emails, rather they expect to open an email and find it tailored to their needs, wants, and expectations. And many emails fall short of this expectation. Many are developed and deployed using old strategies that gave many marketers success years ago, but simply aren’t as promising anymore.

Many marketers are stuck in the past — relying on strategies and tactics that worked once, but now fail to deliver the same rush of results. The pressures on marketers are building to produce the same results with outdated strategies and tactics.

4 Email Marketing Strategies for 2018

It’s time to take a stand and rethink and rework the way we are executing our email marketing strategies. Mass one-size-fits-all emails are things of the past and we need to make room for more personalized, data-driven strategies.

Here are four email marketing strategies marketers should start to deploy in 2018.

► Permission-based email marketing

Permission-based marketing is not a new concept, but for far too many marketers it’s still not a must-practice concept.

But shouldn’t it be?

After all, we do not own our customers’ data; we borrow it. We should only use their data in a way that they have not only agreed to, but also actually want us to. Some may think this drives down the likelihood of driving sales, but when a contact opts-in to receiving emails, they’re actually more likely to engage with a brand. So, by asking for permission to communicate with your contacts, you’ll end up with customers who are more likely to engage and, in turn, are more likely to purchase.

Unsure of how to get started with permission-based marketing? Here are a few ways you can hit the ground running.

Earning — not buying — your email list

If you’re a marketer who is still acquiring emails outside of a permission-based method and then blasting them with emails, stop. Marketing is about building relationships with your customers, not spamming your way to a sale. Marketing should be about giving customers what they want, not just what the brand wants them to see.

Not only that, but you’re opening yourself (and your company) up to serious fines.

With regulations like the CAN-SPAM in North America and the GDPR in the EU, the way marketers are able to use consumer data is changing drastically.

We must be more diligent than ever in building relationships with contacts. Buying lists and importing contacts who have not given you explicit consent no longer has a place in marketing in 2018.

Start asking your contacts for permission to contact them. Twice.

The best way to provide a great experience for your customers, and stay ahead of breaking any laws or regulations with consumer data, is to explicitly ask for their permission.

Many companies choose to use double opt-ins when collecting customer data. This is a method that allows marketers to confirm that the data they are collecting is correct and that a contact is really interested in receiving emails from them by asking contacts to provide explicit consent by clicking a button in a follow up email.

Double-opt ins aren’t the only way to get permission from contacts to communicate with them. But they are great for ensuring contacts know exactly what they will be getting when they share their data with you.

► Personalized email marketing

Personalization is no longer a nice-to-have strategy. Contacts agree to lend you their data so you can provide them with a personalized experience. Their expectations have grown beyond receiving an email with their name in it. They want emails from you that show how well you know them. They want personalized product recommendations, individualized incentives, and content tailored to them.

They’re okay with you sending them marketing emails if you meet their expectations. You can no longer send mass one-size-fits-all emails and expect to see increased engagement and purchases. You must now shift your focus to personalized emails throughout the entire lifecycle.

Here are a couple examples of personalized emails you can add to your arsenal throughout the customer lifecycle:

Product recommendations

If a contact has converted to a customer, and even before in some cases, you have data indicating what types of products they like and are interested in from your brand. Using this information, you can trigger personalized product recommendations.

Product recommendation emails offer a chance to stay in front of a customer, while also showing them you understand their habits and their interests.

Browse abandonment emails

Many online shoppers browse and research online for hours – even days – before they decide if they will purchase an item or not. They may be unsure of what they are looking for or what brand they will purchase from. Either way, keeping their attention in this stage can turn browsing into purchasing.

Using their browse data, and any other information you have, trigger a browse abandonment email to keep a product, and your brand, top of mind for a customer.

Occasion-based emails

Customers want to be more than the money they spend with you. They expect and want you to care about them as individuals. Occasion emails offer an excellent way to send very personalized messages to customers.

Whether it’s a birthday, anniversary, first purchase, or other major milestone, sending a personalized email with a tailored message to customers goes a long way.

► Transactional email marketing

When it comes to planning an effective email marketing strategy, transactional emails should be at the top of the list. Consumers are 8 times more likely to open these emails than a regular marketing email.

Planning a strategy around these emails offers a way to increase engagement with already active customers. Repeat customers spend 67% more than first-time buyers, meaning if you are able to keep customers engaged, your customer lifetime value will increase.

Here are a few examples of how you can use transactional email marketing to capitalize on already engaged customers:

Welcome emails

Remember permission-based marketing? After a person opts in to a newsletter or email campaign, welcome emails can offer additional CTAs to help contacts learn more about services and products.

This one-time email can serve as the intro to your brand and offer insight into what your contacts can expect from your content.

If your confirmation email included a preference center, be sure to personalize your welcome email to include the types of content and information that person selected to receive from your brand.

Order confirmation

After making a purchase, most contacts expect an order confirmation to arrive in their inbox. This creates an opportunity to create a more substantial and personalized email offering additional services or tailored content.

If you purchased a pair of running shoes from a brand, they might send you a confirmation email with suggested running socks. Or if you signed up for a fitness app, their confirmation email might offer nutrition advice based on the goals you set in the app.

Shipping notice

Shipping notification emails are one of the most opened email types. With average open rates around 80-90%, they see even greater success here than order confirmations. These emails may have the biggest potential to make an additional impression on a customer and provide the greatest opportunity to continue engaging them.

Adding CTAs for additional opt-in methods can capture permission from a contact to reach them on another channel. Include a CTA for text notifications or a request to download your app for the latest features.

These emails can be a gateway into getting additional opt-ins and reaching customers on their preferred device.

It’s important to note that the focus of transactional emails shouldn’t be on the marketing aspect. The reason these emails experience such high open rates is because customers have grown to expect them and generally have a good idea for what contents will be inside. Each email serves a purpose for the customer, and also provides an opportunity for the marketer. Think of how you could use these emails to further engage your customer and drive them back to your site.

► AI-driven email marketing

Many marketers have been executing email automation campaigns for years. But as the demand for personalization increases, the ability to effectively execute personalized email automation has quickly declined. Customers are no longer willing to wait for a personalized experience. If your brand can’t deliver on an experience tailored to their specific needs, they will find a different brand that can.

But with all of the data coming in from all of the channels, it’s impossible for you to aggregate, analyze, and execute on it all to provide this true one-to-one experience. Human-driven personalization does not scale.

You need a strategy that takes the work out of the data and gives you the power to shift your focus back to strategy, content, and creative. Many marketers are turning to artificial intelligence marketing to create truly smart, truly personalized campaigns.

Here are some of the AI-driven tactics that can fuel your email marketing strategy:

Dynamic content

Too many brands send emails with one static message to their customers. It might be a lifecycle email or even a transactional email, but no matter when a customer opens it, they’ll see the same content as everyone else. But that’s no longer good enough. You need to send emails that are tailored to an individual for the exact moment they open it.

Using AI in your marketing strategy allows you to build your emails with dynamic content. When a customer opens an email, the content will adjust to their location and time, making it immediately relevant to their needs.

Send time optimization

In the past, you may have A/B tested send times and settled on a certain day and time that works best. But even if Tuesday at 9:00 a.m. has historically produced the best open rates for you, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity. Consumers receive so many emails a day, many emails will end up deleted in one mass action.

What if instead of nominating Tuesday at 9:00am “email time” you could launch a campaign where your email would be sent to each individual contact at the exact moment she is most likely to open it? Using AI to optimize your send times allows you to tailor send times not in segments, but on an individual level. This ensures your email will arrive in an inbox when it has the highest probability of being opened.

Individualized incentives

When it looks like a customer might be defecting, most brands will send a generalized incentive to try to get them to come back. The problem with this is that not every customer has the same purchase cycle or requires the same discount. Some customers may purchase from your brand once a year, while others purchase once a month. If you send an incentive to your once-a-year customer after three months, they might be confused and ultimately defect because they felt they didn’t get a personalized experience.

With incentive recommendations, the machine will learn not only each individual customer’s lifecycle, but also their incentive threshold. Not every customer needs a 20% off coupon to convert, some only need free shipping or a simple “We miss you” email. When brands send 20% off coupons to every customer, they may be missing out on full-price purchases that would have happened without the incentive.

AI-driven email marketing allows you to automate a truly personalized experience for your customers throughout their lifecycle.

Final Thoughts

As email continues to be the number one communication channel around the world, marketers can no longer rely on tactics and strategies that are outdated and ineffective. Reflect on your own strategies and put a plan in place, as it’s imperative to embrace the strategies that will lead you to success in 2018 and beyond.

Marketing is in a constant state of change. Are you keeping up? No sweat — we’ve got you covered. We’re revealing 5 big predictions for the next 5 years, straight from the desk of the CMO: “5X5: 5 Marketing Predictions for the Next 5 Years.”

New Call-to-action