8 minute read

10 Best Practices for Email in 2018

The following blog post was written by Forster Perelsztejn for MovableInk.com. Forster gathers sales data at Prospect.io in order to deliver powerful and insightful advice to salespeople. Check out his Top 10 Cold Email Templates Based on 3,327,652 Emails Sent! 

With 2018 around the corner, it only seemed natural to look into what’s going to matter in the realm of email marketing. Law, data and technology are on the program; enjoy the ride!

Artificial Intelligence

It’s fair to say that AI is all the rage these days. According to market research firm Tractica, the revenue generated from the direct and indirect application of AI software will grow from $1.4 billion in 2016 to $59.8 billion by 2025. Knowing that 80% of industries now invest in AI and make it a competitive priority, how can you put it to use in your favourite email tools to improve your email marketing?


Send time: While you can make an educated guess as to what the best time is when it comes to sending emails, harnessing the power of machine learning to identify the best times and automatically use those can make a significant difference in the success rate of your campaigns.
Copywriting: The internet is riddled with AI tools that will check your content and predict your recipient’s reaction. Although this is not all exact science, the insight provided by these tools is almost always valuable.

  • Coschedule evaluates your articles headlines for free
  • Phrasee is a paid tool that works the science behind email subject lines
  • Hemingway analyzes your copy for free and gives you pointers on how to improve it

Personalization: Some websites like Zalando or Amazon generate 35% of revenue based on personalized recommendations. They track your visits, extract personal info and email you based on the products you checked, automatically. Also segmenting by age, job or localization allows you to automatically adapt the content you send as soon as new products are live on your website.

Go set up those algorithms!


Chatbots
According to Hubspot, 47% of consumers would buy items from a chatbot, so using them can totally be a practical way to automate some of your marketing efforts. That’s great, but what does that have to do with email marketing?


Did you know that 60% of people gave fake info on the internet? They won’t hesitate to give someone else’s email address or phone number to download your latest ebook or whitepaper. A good way to avoid that is to immediately introduce them to a Facebook Messenger chatbot who will converse with them to set up their email preferences based on accurate data. This will help you build a great quality list while offering your subscribers just the right content. Check out these tutorials on how to embed Messenger on your website: Labnol, Botsociety, Facebook.


Legal changes
As of May 25 2018, European Union the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) directive will come into force. How does that affect email marketers? These new rules will impact consent: how you seek, obtain and save it. They will affect every company that uses personal data from EU citizens, regardless of where the company’s based.


Obtaining consent
GDPR states that marketers will only be allowed to send email to people who’ve opted-in to receive messages. While it’s already the case in most EU countries, the nature of consent gets a specific frame:


“Consent should be given by a clear affirmative act establishing a freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous indication of the data subject’s agreement to the processing of personal data relating to him or her, such as by a written statement, including by electronic means, or an oral statement. This could include ticking a box when visiting an internet website, choosing technical settings for information society services or another statement or conduct which clearly indicates in this context the data subject’s acceptance of the proposed processing of his or her personal data. Silence, pre-ticked boxes or inactivity should not therefore constitute consent. “


The recipient must also be informed of how their data will be used.


Consent record keeping
The burden of proving consent is the responsibility of the company. While it has always been the case, for example, in Germany, the change will affect lots of marketers around the globe. Record keeping will become essential. Please note that the GDPR applies to data collected before as well as after its enforcement. As a result, marketers will have to make sure their previously collected data is compliant with the new directive.


Data validity
For B2B marketers out there, have you ever emailed a large professional list that hasn’t been used for a few months. Well, I did, a few days ago. Out of curiosity, I emailed a list from a previous business venture with fresh content. 301 contacts. 5% of these addresses didn’t exist anymore.


It’s 2017, people tend to change jobs on a regular basis. And it’s not about to change. To prove this point Radius ran an experiment: they looked at what happened over a 4-month period in 2016 (May to August) to 10.000 CRM contacts. When the experiment ended: 7,57% of the entries had become invalid; the person had moved to another job or was no longer be reachable. Other than the fact that it renders your strategy and well thought of templates useless, sending emails to addresses that don’t exist can affect your deliverability.


When your bounce rate rises above the 10% threshold, you’re almost guaranteed to start ending up on blacklists. Which, guess what, is going to affect your deliverability, and there goes the vicious cycle. Your email automation tool might also just decide to drop you. Check your data regularly!


Video
According to Hubspot, 43% of consumers would like to see more video content from marketers. As a result, 85% of businesses now claim to have internal staff and resources to produce videos in-house. Why not use those in emails?
Remember to:

  • Shoot great videos: Like any form of branded content, your videos need, in addition to delivering value, to look good, sound good and be professionally edited.
  • Keep it short: Shorter videos tend to perform better, especially if embedded in an email. They should be used to intrigue the recipient and get them to perform an action.
  • Test then invest: A bad video can have a devastating effect. Send it out to a few people who didn’t work on it; colleagues, peers, mentors and see how it works out.

Microsites
Interactive emails truly are a thing. They break the click-through barrier by allowing the recipient to browse a mini-site embedded in the body of the email. They even allow to share live content, like countdowns, local weather forecasts, etc.


Transactional emails
While they’re not exactly marketing emails, transactional messages can be used to an advantage by your business. According to Hubspot, transactional emails are: “One-to-one emails that contain information that completes a transaction or process the recipient has started with you. A common example is in ecommerce, after purchasing an item you receive a email receipt that has information about the item, price, and shipment. Transactional email is sent to individuals rather than a large list of recipients.”


Why do they matter? Because they get opened twice as much as regular marketing emails and because 43% of them get clicked on after being opened.
Here are a few tips to exploit the potential of transactional emails:

  • Related items: Use a confirmation email to suggest similar or complementary products your recipient might be interested in purchasing.
  • Opt-ins: They purchased but didn’t sign up to the newsletter? Here’s another chance to sell it to them in a more personalized way!
  • Social media: Show some social buttons they can click to follow you on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
  • Referrals: Offer them a coupon or something free in exchange for referring a friend.

Gamification
More than a buzzword, gamification is the process of implementing a game dynamic in an area that normally wouldn’t include it. By including gamification in your marketing emails, you get your recipient to engage with your company in a fun and natural way. They also make tedious onboarding processes less tedious by incorporating a game-like progression. Feel free to include quizzes, ask recipients to share content in exchange for coupons or incorporate easy and funny flash games.


Omnichannel approach
More than ever, it is necessary to use all available channels to reach out to potential customers the same you would get in touch with people you personally know. Without necessarily entering the realm of sales, you should complement your email campaigns with social campaigns and/or real life operations. If you’re a B2B company, don’t just send emails: make good use of LinkedIn and attend trade shows.


Alignment with sales
One old but crucial problem: aligning marketing and sales. Since both departments tend to use the same channels more and more (email, social, landing pages…), there needs to be great coordination.

  • Content creation: As salespeople are on the frontline, they should use all the support they can get from marketing. And that includes content creation.
  • Case studies: Case studies are an effective way of showing how another customer solved a similar issue, ideally with measurable results.
  • No 'I' in team: If content can make your salesperson more authoritative but they don’t have the time to write it, write it yourself and sign with their name.
  • Emailing: Both teams typically have a different use of email: marketing will use a marketing automation platform to first get in touch and nurture the leads with content and offers and sales will use a sales automation platform to get in a 1-1 conversation with the prospect.

But this doesn’t mean that sales will not get the first touch -cold email- or share content and/or offers with prospects. On the contrary, value has proven to be an effective way of pushing prospects down the funnel. Sales and marketing need to get aligned and find a system that works within their own environment.

  • Social: While it’s more of a B2B thing, a multi-channel approach including social selling will necessarily result in sales and marketing having to find a balance between sponsored posts, sponsored LinkedIn InMail content and a spontaneous approach by a salesperson.

An exciting challenge! 2018 will definitely be an interesting year with lots of changes in the business world. And while it may be hard to keep up with everything, focus on this one thing you know will always be true: focus on offering value!