"Interactive email" and "AI” (artificial intelligence) are all the rage in email these days because they offer lots of promise to keep email's future bright. But, they're tops on my list of overhyped trends. So let’s step back for a moment and look at where we are now and where we should go with them in the future.
A few days ago, I posted a link on my Facebook page to a blog post I'd written about an American Airlines year-end recap email. I praised AA for going above and beyond the call of email duty because it used my own data to hyper-personalize the message.
Then, a friend commented on that post, saying, "Does it ever bother you that we've been preaching the same things for the last 10 years?"
Email marketing is a game, or at least it should be. The sentiment is captured in the now-aged movie, “Moneyball.” The movie, focused on a sub-par baseball team that used strategy to improve their winning percentage. It is a great classic for marketers everywhere. In the movie, the A’s manager, Billy Bene, applied Marketing principles to baseball and moved the team from a projected worst place finish to making the playoffs and changing the way the game is played forever.
It’s lovely to see more organizations consistently testing to boost performance! But it’s sad to see marketers doing tests which are returning inconclusive or just plain useless results. Here are three of the most common testing mistakes my team and I run across working with clients, along with tips for how you and your team can avoid making them in the future!
This year I asked the members of Only Influencers to brag about their accomplishments for 2017. The response was outstanding and we will be making this an annual event. So, here is what the members of email marketing community accomplished this year:
I remember when CSS was barely usable in HTML email and plain-text versions were our attempt to be ‘mobile-friendly’. Table-based, inline-styled emails were all the rage way back in 2007. Seems like ages have passed since, although Outlook will always remind us of the good-old-days. Now, emails are mobile responsive, contain kinetic elements, and even contextual content by using real-time information gathered from the recipient - dilly, dilly!
Change is hard! With email, change can even be more overwhelming because what you are doing now is likely something with which you are comfortable. However, isn’t it time to leave that comfort zone? We tend to lose sight over the impact that small changes to our email program can have. We test subject lines and day of week, the length of the email, text vs. image, and the frequency in which a subscriber should be mailed, etc. The list of what you can test goes on and on. Testing is great because it provides us good insight into how we should be engaging with our subscribers. However, one of the things I don’t see happening often is a change in the creative template. Both with my clients and what I see as a consumer (and yes, I get tons of emails) I see the same template time and time again.
To respond or not to respond is always the question. Some marketing automation platforms have taken the position that they will not respond to RFPs during the sales process because it is not the best use of their time. However, I believe that RFPs can be highly informative and useful during the procurement process as long as they are written with intention. As RFP season begins to wrap up, I took stock in the different RFPs that crossed my desk. I reviewed countless RFPs this quarter, some good, some bad, some 125 pages long and I realized that many brands have no idea how to write an RFP for a marketing automation platform, so a generic procurement RFP template is wordsmithed to reflect marketing automation language. Below are some surefire tips to make sure that a salesperson does not fall asleep reading your RFP.
A few months back, I wrote about using data to determine the timing, content, and impact of your email marketing campaigns (See: 6 Steps to Putting Data to Work in Email). In the last few months, the element I find myself discussing most with colleagues and clients is the latter: What data can we use to attribute the impact of our hard working email marketing campaigns?
When it comes to challenges in attribution, I’ve heard it all:
It never fails that a few months before a brand marketer is due to renew their marketing automation contract, they reach out to tell me that they are secretly looking to switch to a new platform and want my opinion. After we have spent a little time talking about their current state, what they want out of their future state and the business goals they are looking to accomplish, we usually determine that their current platform meets their needs. However, one thing always stands out, they typically need what I refer to as a “Marketing Automation Tune-Up,” which, simply put, is just recalibration and adjustment to what they are currently doing.
A few weeks ago I launched my latest Community, OnlyFounders.com. They say entrepreneurs want to change the world. That is a debatable statement. But one thing is clear, in my 20 years of being an entrepreneur the things that I have done that have literally changed the world all involved the communities I was involved with. Facilitating communication is one of the most powerful things you can do in your career as a digital marketer. So in honor of my 4th (most likely my last) community building effort, I thought I’d share what Ive learned over the last 20 years of the importance of community, the impact it can have, what makes a good community, and how to build one that engages and inspires people around the world. And perhaps even more importantly, how it changes you as not only a digital marketer, but as a human being.