While snail mail may be on its last legs, email continues as a real marketing method. Here’s how in 2018. Source: Shutterstock.

Trends in email marketing for 2018 you can use today

DIGITAL marketing is now old enough to have developed its own trends. Social media marketing is popular at the moment, and networks are rushing to monetize their platforms, either by expanding out their apps’ functions (see WeChat) or by selling off users’ details (see Facebook).

A few years ago, search engine optimization was the “thing”, and to a certain extent, it’s still important. But as many users are now eschewing the web in favor of apps on mobile, SEO may have seen its heyday.

Similarly, instant messaging was thought to spell the end of email, in the same way that email seems to have spelled the end of the physical letter.

But email is still remarkably popular, although, of course, most people are now very careful as to who they give their email address. But most businesses and many individuals still favor an email over other media, and as part of the sales and marketing process, email can be very powerful indeed – it just needs to be used correctly.

In 2018, there are a few ways in which your email campaigns can respond to latest trends and get more results than ever.

1. Design and typography

While an attractive design and creative use of fonts may seem to be a given in any email campaign, don’t forget that some recipients will not respond as well as others to your marketing team’s more esoteric efforts.

Old-school code ninjas being told about the latest in development platforms may prefer plain text emails – that’s the environment in which they spend their time.

Similarly, but not as extreme an example, older demographics may not benefit from reading messages that rely on the latest technologies, or those which ask for a response via an app.

Organizations need to ask if their target segment uses smartphones, or would a less bandwidth-intensive email be better received? Will a “please do not respond to this email” message do more harm than good, when in fact, the chosen recipients’ most happily undertaken response is to hit “Reply”?

2. Transactional email campaigns

Transactional emails are those which are triggered at key junctures during the marketing process.

We’re all aware of emails thanking us for our orders, but there are many other points on the customer interaction timeline that can be used to present timely, personalized messages (see below). Here, vendors need to be acutely aware of the load placed on customers. If a purchase is for a US$100,000 service, the customer will expect some email feedback. However, if the purchase was for a US$0.99 widget, more than a quick “thank you” email may be classed as overbearingly spammy.

3. Automation

Accessible automation tools are now available which can ensure that messages are sent at the right time, to segmented recipient lists carefully categorized in back-end databases.

Good automation providers will allow their services to be the basis of all the materials required for successful campaigns over time: multiple recipient lists, alternative formats spun out of single inputs, and automation of list segregation by demographic or timezone (to name but two) are all now available from competing providers.

Look for user-friendly backends which are simple enough to use so the actual nitty-gritty of email campaigns can be delegated. This allows the advanced email marketer to concentrate on overall strategy, content targeting, and content.

4. Interactivity

Anything to differentiate your emails from the background of anodyne sales messages is good, and interactivity can make a difference. While animated GIFs are at least distracting, a quiz or survey may take your potential customer from their email client to the web, or an app – calls to action are key elements of any email.

There has to be some incentive to getting involved, however, and this doesn’t have to be monetary (shopping vouchers, anyone?). People respond well to the flattery of being asked for their opinion, but don’t assume you’ll get 30 minutes of the recipient’s time: keep it short and sweet.

Finally, often overlooked, especially by B2B marketers, is humor. It may not be entirely suitable for every sales message, but sometimes, a laugh or a wry smile can engage an otherwise stony-faced audience.

Man asleep

Ensure your emails are sent at a time relevant to your targets’ timezones! Source: Shutterstock

5. Personalize, personalize, personalize

Personalization underpins all of the points above, so perhaps it’s wise to look at this aspect of an email shot in some detail.

Good personalization means more than a mail-merge style use of a familiar name pulled out of a database. In today’s more competitive market, why not consider some of the following?

  • Personalization according to gender: effective use of colors and message types varies between the sexes.
  • Personalized send times are a must across time zones. Nothing says “junk mail” more than a 01:19 am local sent time.
  • Product personalization. Email contents should be based on previous behavior or product preferences. But don’t forget that in B2C environments, especially, people aren’t necessarily buying for themselves.
  • Seasonal personalization. Malaysians celebrate different festivals from Madras residents, Christians, Hindus, Jews, and Muslims all observe different annual events. But the larger festivals will be at least recognized by everyone: even non-Christian Japanese may give a Christmas gift.

There is no particular sweet spot for which all email marketers aim, but the low overall cost of email means that some A/B testing can be undertaken on a chosen audience: just be aware that the more unsuccessful attempts on a target’s inbox, the greater the likelihood of the dread unsubscribe command being opted for.