Honest Reflections of a One Year Email MarketerOne year on November 6th.  Honest!  That’s how old my email marketing career will be.  One year here at mailingmanager.  On reflection, a lot has happened for email marketing in the last twelve months.  Of course, my own arrival into the industry as “email marketer” isn’t included within the “lot” that has happened.  Let’s be fair, no matter how dramatic my entrance, the major data regulation rejig pretty much eclipsed anything else in the email marketing discourse.

I will be honest with you.   The original title to this blog was going to be something like: “5 Things I hate reminding email marketers about”. Obviously I scrapped that title, purely because I wanted people to get past the first paragraph without dropping those “you-arrogant-sunnuva-gun” comments at the bottom.  But this article really has to deal with the same overarching issue.  In the last year, I have been having these five conversations.  Repeatedly.  A lot.

It’s not that I don’t like having conversations with customers.  In-fact, chopsing away is one of the best parts of my job.  But it occurred to me that if I am having the same conversation on repeat with different people, it is time for a one-stop-blog article.  Perhaps I should rename it “the five things I learned this year” and be done with it?

You tell me.

Honest, Email Beats Social

I learned this one early one.    And it surprised me to learn that, according to the DMA, that for every £1 spent, email marketing brings a £38 ROI.  Moreover, and though it makes sense when you think about it, but email has three times as many users as social media.  The majority of demographics have an email account, in fact there are as many as 3.7 Billion email users world wide.  Agency Inc’s article  describes that “changes to the Facebook algorithm means less than 6 per cent of your fan base will actually see your post”, opposed to the average 20% open rate with email marketing.

Despite all the facts and statistics, there are more obvious reasons that email marketing would be better than social media.  First of all, unless you are stalwartly staring at all social medias at once, posts are going to be missed.  Twitter is a production line of images and nonsense.  Snapchat and Instagram have a  limited demographic.  LinkedIn is only appropriate if you are limited to B2B interactions.  Email Marketing does not discriminate, and holds that message in your inbox until you are ready to pick it up.  The recipient doesn’t miss anything that is sent to their inbox.  They just have to choose whether or not to interact with it.  Similar to choosing whether or not to like a meme.

Bad Data – Dirty Data

After GDPR, you might have thought that discussions on data cleanliness might dissipate.   The unethical gung-ho attitude of data companies was tempered by the new privacy laws, and quite rightly so.  The freedom in which data could be bought and sold prior to GDPR was not only unscrupulous, but an embarrassment to the defunct data-protection act.  Not only is purchased data immoral, but it is also bad for the senders IP address.

Trying to email en masse to addresses that don’t know you specifically, to typo addresses, dead domains, or a variety of other data is indicative of spam.  Companies such as URIBL hold details of these IP addresses and tracking domains when they become blacklisted.  Products such as mimecast use URIBL and other DNSBL   and will simply bounce your email back.  Getting blacklisted honestly affects deliverability.

Despite the complex acronyms, it is a simple premise.  Emailing bad data heightens the risk of getting black listed.  When this happens, it is difficult to then get yourself removed from these lists.  This isn’t a secret.  Moreover, after GDPR spent two years scaring everyone into behaving themselves, this is still a common conversation I have with email marketers.

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Savvy Subject lines = Savvy Email Marketer

I wake up in the morning with about 15 emails in my inbox.  If I don’t check them until lunch then I have 30 emails to decide what to do with.  Like everyone else, I have a fraction of a second to decide whether or not to open it.  That decision is made by looking at the subject line.  Walker Sands Communications tell us in The Importance of Subject Lines that “The importance of subject lines becomes even more clear when you consider that a short, one-line description of your email may be your first and only shot at connecting with a customer or business contact”.

To make your email marketing campaign stand out, your subject line may be your only shot.  The honest truth is, that there is great content in these emails.  However, email marketers often still view the subject lines the same as a song title, or the name of a newspaper or journal.  Like a title.  Like it should be enough to just put their company name as a subject line.  And, like they shouldn’t make use of the pre-header.  To improve open rates, it is surprising how effective a creative subject line can be.  For ideas on this I often point them to our very own Mark Ellis and his article on retail subject lines.

Get Personal

Personalisation.  Personalisation.  I am worried that I might accidentally call one of my kids it.  The word has left my mouth that often!  In fact, there is unlikely to be an email marketer, guru, or expert who hasn’t written an article, or delivered a lecture on the subject.   Campaign Monitor’s The Power of Email Personalization to Reach Humans (Not Just Inboxes) discusses this at length.  Research shows that personalised emails increase sales by up to 20%.

Moreover, it is good practice to break through the mechanical barrier of technology and reach the honest human behind the screen.  That way your email won’t look like it is a generic catalogue of interesting items in square boxes.  Content that speaks directly towards the recipient is always more effective.  It is like you are sharing a secret, or you have genuinely picked out the special offer just for them.  It is especially effective in customer retention as I discussed in 5 Hot tips to keep existing customers in the mood.

Email is NOT Dead

Is that bold print loud enough?  Email is not dead.  Despite the many proclamations made by the cult of GDPR-mageddonists, and various other factions crying ‘the end of email is nigh’.  It isn’t.  Sincerely.  Case closed.

Email is a resilient marketing tool that is over 40 years old.  Despite the rise of Social Media and AI, or even the restricting and complex data laws that could impede it, everyone still has an email account.  Email Marketing has a way of incorporating other digital marketing techniques by driving traffic.  It still has the highest ROI of all marketing techniques.  There have been some interesting discussions about whether email would survive Alexa.  A summary of this debate can be found on Cyborg Marketing: The Many Futures of Email.

The One Year Wrap Up

2018 might have been one of the more eventful years for email marketing. Perhaps, in that, I was lucky to have joined mailingmanager at the right time.  Email marketing has never been more important.  It is an honest feeling of mine that a good email marketing campaign can turn your sales around.  If it’s a bad year, a campaign could give you one year of excellent engagement.

This blog is not so much a bildungsroman of a digital marketer, but a reflection on what is important.  In 2019, with a possible Brexit on the way, and the rapid implementation of AI, things may change again.  Email, like anything else, has to keep with trends, and to continue being unique and exciting.  At the moment, there are a lot of creative and intelligent content creators out there pushing out fantastic emails.  My second year here promises to be as interesting as my first.