Don’t let innovation overcome email common sense

As marketers, we need to know what needs to be on our collective radar to plan and optimize our email programs. The annual parade of articles on next year’s trends helps us do just that.

However, writers rarely advise their readers to think about the priority problems, develop strategies for solving them, and then – and only then! – think about the tactics (marked as trends) that they will use to implement these strategies.

What happened? In search of problems we find solutions. That’s when marketers may end up chasing shiny toys that drag their email programs out of the norm and distract time, money, and attention from decisions that can really make a difference.

Here are two scenarios I’ve seen recently.

1. Excess segmentation.

We know that email programs bring more value when you build them based on segmented, targeted, and initiated messages. Each customer in your segments or triggers receives a message with content that reflects their behavior, preferences, and interests.

This is close to best email practices, like insisting on the consent and permission of the subscriber before sending emails.

But if you send only initiated or highly segmented companies that receive customers or subscribers that do not fit into your segments or do not meet your trigger criteria? What if they don’t open / click / buy so often or leave a trail of data from viewing? If they don’t receive your emails, they won’t be able to generate discoveries, clicks, or conversions.

I’ve seen this trend evolve over the last few years as marketers with good intentions take this best practice too close to heart. Nowadays, this is easy to do because even the simplest email platforms make it easy to create targeted and called campaigns.

This loses one of the superpowers of email – you can connect with your customers if you want. Your emails can push your customers to action. You don’t have to wait for customers to find you on their own or through a search.

You can solve this problem by creating a comprehensive broadcast campaign that will reach everyone who does not receive your personalized messages. Your brand continues to appear in their inboxes, ready for them when the time comes to participate.

2. Create “best of its kind” emails

These are emails that showcase the latest advanced email features that allow email to accomplish feats that no one could have ever imagined, and make your emails the envy of your industry friends.

They often manifest as trends or a list of tactics that need to be done to help you set up interactions. They all promise the same thing:

  • “Video makes email more appealing.”
  • “Interactive emails are more appealing.”
  • “Overlay and collage images are more appealing.”

Who can be against this? But sometimes “best of its kind” can mean adding expensive and sometimes untested features to a regular email. Chad White of Oracle Marketing Consulting calls AMP for email an “unproven opportunity” and warns that the enthusiasm of both marketers and Google, its creator, is fading. Is it worth investing time and energy in developing this feature? Is there anything else you could give your subscribers that will make your emails even more valuable?

Downloading our emails using advanced coding or technology just because we want to be in trend without a strategic goal can make them too complex and less workable for our customers and subscribers.

The more we complicate the design, coding, and validation of email, the more likely we are to end up breaking email so that it won’t display well on all devices and browsers. It does not enhance the interaction. It makes it worse.

Some innovations also ask email to do what is not intended. Each marketing channel has its own roles and limitations.

The primary role of email is to move the customer to your website and generate the conversions or signals of interest needed to gather more data and better understand customers. It’s not about the box office or the tariff.


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Achieving balance is a real best practice

I don’t want to stop you from striving for lofty goals and looking for ways to create the best email programs – ones that will help you achieve your goals while your customers use your email to achieve theirs. And I love innovation when it helps us solve a problem or create a better email experience for our customers.

But in email marketing, as in life, we need to balance our ambitions with what makes sense. We need to ask difficult questions and assess whether the trend is a real opportunity or a distraction from our goal. This is the best way to become a “best of its kind” marketer.


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The views expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. The full-time authors are listed here.


About the Author

Kat Pay is the CEO of Holistic Email Marketing and the author of the award-winning Amazon № 1 bestseller “Holistic Email Marketing: A Practical Philosophy of Revolution in Your Business and Customer Satisfaction”.

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