2018 Email Marketing Strategy Guide

For nearly as long as the Internet has been around, email has been an essential communication tool. As the world has grown more interconnected in the digital era, many new channels have emerged through which people can send and receive information. Social media, viral video, PPC, SEO, dynamic advertising — with all these and more at your fingertips, surely email must be on its way out.

If that’s been your approach to marketing in today’s online world, you’re quite wrong. Email is now a more powerful — and reliable – marketing tool than ever. What’s more, it’s the perfect medium for all your favorite content. And what better way to learn about it than with your very own email marketing strategy guide for 2018?

At GetResponse, we took a look at the behavior of our users and their customers to identify a reliable, data-driven strategy for email marketing in 2018. By comparing our data from earlier in 2017, we can see that marketing automation very much represents a successful and exciting strategy for the forward-thinking marketer or business owner.

Here are 8 major tips to make your email marketing campaigns more effective in 2018.

If you’re not automating your campaigns, you’re wasting your time.

Here’s a statistic for you: people sent fewer emails between July and September 2017 period between April and June. But wait — isn’t email supposed to be getting more popular, and not less?

The answer is that it’s getting more efficient. Thanks to email automation, you can communicate effectively with your customers and get more engagement from them with fewer emails, not more. Your customers will thank you for it as well. After all, no one likes a cluttered inbox.

 

Don’t just auto-respond, automate!

Join the many marketers out there who are already automating their campaigns. The percentage of emails sent using marketing automation as opposed to simple autoresponders increased during our test period from 7.95 percent to 10.17 percent. When each email is optimized to be as effective as possible, you don’t have to send as many to get your point across. Marketing automation needs to be an essential element of your email marketing strategy in 2018.

Marketing automation allows you to structure your marketing campaigns so that your communication is more relevant to each of your contacts. There are several techniques and tools you can use that can help you discover who needs what sort of content and communication style.

  • Scoring: You can rank your contacts based on how far along they’ve come in their journey as customers. Are they merely window-shopping? Are they proven leads? Perhaps they’re returning customers? Each of these groups requires a tailored marketing approach.
  • Tagging & segmenting: Your marketing automation system will automatically assign your contacts to these groups based on the criteria you set. If a contact clicks through in your email and signs up for your offer, they might be tagged into the “leads” group. From that point, they’ll be treated differently than the contacts who might not yet be ready to take that step.
  • Triggers: Creating your marketing plan in advance allows you to plan for every action your contacts will or won’t take, based on their behavior. These conditional prompts are called “triggers,” and they’re immensely useful in making sure you’re sending the right messages to the right recipients.

Udemy used triggers to send this reengagement email after a contact had been inactive for a certain period of time. Source: GetResponse’s Blog

Using an autoresponder is a great way to simplify your job. If you want to take your email marketing to the next level, you’ll need to explore marketing automation to its fullest potential. You can automate your entire email marketing campaign, then check in on your data to see how things are going, making tweaks and changes as needed.

There’s no reason not to automate.

As Content Marketer Irek Klimczak says, you don’t need to spend a ton of money on your email automation platform. In fact, compared to other marketing avenues, email automation is one of the cheapest weapons in your arsenal. It’s easy to be swayed by the powerful appeal of a viral video or the recommendation of a famous influencer — but the odds are you’ll be paying dearly.

When you choose an email automation platform to handle your campaigns, you’ll be building your data reserves right before your eyes. Each time you hit “Send,” every nugget of information about that email’s performance is catalogued. All you need to do is take a look and see what your data is telling you. And on that note…

 

If you think you’ve tested enough, test again.

One of the best ways to find out what your contacts like most is by taking advantage of A/B testing. You send out two nearly identical versions of an email — A version and B version — and measure which performs better. Marketing Coordinator Justyna Bakker is here to explain:

A/B testing only works if you test just one variable each time. Otherwise, you won’t be completely sure where your results are coming from. Testable elements of your emails include the subject line, call to action, personalization (more on that soon), type of promotion offered, and more. Each of these aspects will have a measurable effect on a certain portion of your conversion process.

It’s imperative that you take a data-driven approach to your marketing decisions. This is the only way to ensure that each one of your actions is engineered to get the greatest possible results for you, your business, or your clients. Be a scientist! The results speak for themselves: in a study among our customers from July to September of 2017, emails sent as part of an automation campaign vastly outperformed every other type of email, with a staggering 55.19 percent open rate and 13.18 percent click-through rate (CTR)!

 

It’s time to get more personal with your audience.

If you aren’t speaking directly to the individual needs of your contacts, you aren’t speaking to them at all. You’re always going to get a better result from your customer when you make them feel as though you’re having a one-on-one conversation with them and them alone — even if you’re sending out hundreds or thousands of emails as part of your campaign.

Fortunately, email automation allows you to do just that. By using a marketing automation software platform, you can customize every bit of your email — subject, greeting, content, delivery time, and more — to fit the preferences and habits of your individual customers. You can include information that’s relevant to them, address them by name, and mention their job titles or companies in the body of your email.

 

Treat your audience as individuals.

It’s a popular approach: over one-third of all emails sent via GetResponse from July to September featured personalized body content.

Personalization is a reliable strategy for increasing customer engagement with your content. It can improve both your CTR and open rates. Our results show this clearly: among our customers, emails with personalized body content achieved an open rate 8 percent higher than that of generic emails.

 

Product Marketing Specialist Sezgin Hergul on why personalization is one of 2018’s most promising marketing automation strategies.

 

Using the data collected by your marketing automation platform, you can begin to segment your contact list into “personas.” A persona represents a certain type of customer, and the more data you have, the more detailed your personas can get. And the more specific your personas, the more accurately you can target your campaigns to their individual needs, interests, and desires.

 

Segment your contacts into personas for a more customized approach. Source: GrowthPixel.com

 

After you’ve identified your personas, you can begin to shape your campaigns, so that they provide exactly what each group is looking for. Do your personas live in different time zones? You can adjust delivery times, so that each segment receives your email at the time when they are most likely to engage with it.

Remember those automation techniques we talked about earlier? (Hint: scoring, tagging and triggers). Guess what — they all count as personalization. Take the data you have, analyze it, learn about your subscribers, and put this information to good use. Any time you’re taking an action to deliver more relevant content to your subscribers, that’s personalization at work.

 

Shorter subject lines don’t always mean better open rates.

Traditional opinions on email subject lines dictate that shorter is always better. But is it? For today’s audiences, it seems as though this tactic isn’t as reliable as we once thought. According to our latest data, it’s actually the longer subject lines that reap better open rates, not the shorter ones. We found the highest open rates came from emails with subject lines of 90-119 characters. In comparison, subject lines of only 30-39 characters performed just over two-thirds as well.

Source: GetResponse’s Blog

 

Email marketing leader Kath Pay believes the best results stem from highly specific subject lines featuring detailed information that’s relevant to your contact. With subject lines, your goal is to give people a compelling reason to open your email and engage with it. It’s hard to demonstrate immediate value with just 30 characters (image source).

 

 

You can also use pre-headers and preview text to follow up on the story you’re telling in your subject line. Even though many email clients won’t show your full subject — especially on mobile — the combination of a specific subject line and supporting preview text provides powerful motivation for your contact to take a closer look at what you have to say.

Source: GetResponse’s Blog

 

Email marketing is venturing into exciting new territory in 2018, and part of this transition means getting rid of outdated wisdom. Take advantage of your subject lines by making them a key element of your marketing message, and infuse your emails with irresistible content from the start.

 

Open your mind to the power of…the emoji 😎

Don’t be afraid to lighten the mood with an emoji or two, either. Emoji use shifted from 6.15 percent to 6.96 percent of emails sent during our test period. Learn to speak the language of your customers, and emoji can be an effective weapon in your arsenal. Take a look at this real-time emoji tracker for Twitter, and you’ll see just how insanely popular they are. Like it or not, emoji have become an integral part of the way we communicate online.

One place they’ll be especially useful for you is in the subject lines of your emails. As previously mentioned, you want to make sure you’re giving your contact a specific, easy to understand reason to open your email. With skilful use of emoji, you can quickly communicate your desired message.

 

Pop an emoji into your email subject to help it stand out. Source: RocketMarketingHub.com

 

Still, if you’re not sure that emoji are right for you, you can try them out with — you guessed it — A/B testing! Send an email with emoji to some of your contacts, and an emoji-free version to everyone else, and see what happens.

A word of caution – some emoji have secondary and tertiary layers of meaning, some of which are less than savory. Before you hit “Send,” be sure you’re communicating the right message. Otherwise, your contacts might 😂  instead of 😃 !

 

2018 emails need to be visually engaging.

Nobody likes reading the same thing over and over again. If you want to snag the attention of your audience, you’ll need to keep them on their toes. Including a healthy dose of variety in the emails you send has been shown to increase the effectiveness of your communication.

 

Embed YouTube videos in your emails for next-level content delivery.

One surefire way you can make your emails more interesting is by embedding a YouTube video. Compared to emails without video embeds, emails with YouTube content resulted in a CTR gain of almost 2 percent. Open rates benefit as well — almost six percent more in emails sent from July to September.

 

runtastic

Showcase the value of your offer with an interesting and informative video in an email message. Source: runtastic.com

 

Give your readers something to interact with.

Interactive emails have become the thing over the past few years, and they’re only going to get more exciting in 2018. You absolutely want to make sure you’re taking advantage of this trend before it becomes the new normal.

Think about it: if your readers wanted to look at a bunch of plain old text, they’d be reading a book. In today’s dynamic times, this approach doesn’t cut it anymore when it comes to getting people engaged with your messages. Instead, you’ll need to give them something that grabs their attention, communicates your idea in a novel way, and encourages them to tell their friends.

 

This interactive email transforms an inbox into a fully functional e-store. Source: NetDna.WebDesignerDepot.com

Landing pages have one purpose and one purpose only: conversion.

That’s it. Only one job. And to do that job, a landing page needs to be laser-focused on it’s purpose. To this end, you’ll want to create separate landing pages for each of your personas, based on their preferences. Adjust the content, tone, layout, and more to resonate as closely as possible with each persona. Among our users, the number of unique landing pages increased by almost 10 percent throughout our study period. And the average conversion rate increased from 7.11 percent up to 7.48 percentduring the same time.

Keeping that in mind, here are some tips to improve the average conversion rate of your landing pages:

  • Use bullet points. If you have something to explain, do it briefly and clearly.
  • Add value. Show your visitor what they have to gain from your offer.
  • Keep it clean. The layout should be crystal-clear and insanely simple to navigate.
  • No way out! No navigation menu, no social sharing, nothing except your offer. So…
  • Make that call to action (CTA) pop! Tell your visitor where to click by ensuring your CTA stands out.

Can you see how WalkMe’s landing page uses all the above strategies? Source: GetResponse’s Blog

If you’re not completely sure what might work best on your landing pages, you can always experiment with A/B testing. Give it a shot!

 

The way ahead

As email automation grows in popularity, many businesses outside its traditional market are getting in on the action. Agencies, automotive companies, health & beauty providers, and many others have made the decision to add email automation to their marketing plans. This is of course fantastic news for email marketers, but should also be seen as a word of encouragement for business owners. While you may not yet be automating your emails, many of your competitors likely are. It’s not too late to make email automation work for you as well.

Given these email marketing strategies for 2018, marketers and business owners alike have plenty to look forward to in the coming year. As email automation platforms get more and more sophisticated, they remain as easy to use as ever, while providing unprecedented levels of insight into customer behavior and preferences. If you’re not taking advantage of all email automation has to offer, now is a perfect time to get started.

If you found these tips and insights useful, take a moment to share them with your colleagues and friends!

Udemy used triggers to send this reengagement email after a contact had been inactive for a certain period of time. Source: GetResponse’s Blog

Using an autoresponder is a great way to simplify your job. If you want to take your email marketing to the next level, you’ll need to explore marketing automation to its fullest potential. You can automate your entire email marketing campaign, then check in on your data to see how things are going, making tweaks and changes as needed.

There’s no reason not to automate.

As Content Marketer Irek Klimczak says, you don’t need to spend a ton of money on your email automation platform. In fact, compared to other marketing avenues, email automation is one of the cheapest weapons in your arsenal. It’s easy to be swayed by the powerful appeal of a viral video or the recommendation of a famous influencer — but the odds are you’ll be paying dearly.

When you choose an email automation platform to handle your campaigns, you’ll be building your data reserves right before your eyes. Each time you hit “Send,” every nugget of information about that email’s performance is catalogued. All you need to do is take a look and see what your data is telling you. And on that note…

If you think you’ve tested enough, test again.

One of the best ways to find out what your contacts like most is by taking advantage of A/B testing. You send out two nearly identical versions of an email — A version and B version — and measure which performs better. Marketing Coordinator Justyna Bakker is here to explain:

A/B testing only works if you test just one variable each time. Otherwise, you won’t be completely sure where your results are coming from. Testable elements of your emails include the subject line, call to action, personalization (more on that soon), type of promotion offered, and more. Each of these aspects will have a measurable effect on a certain portion of your conversion process.

It’s imperative that you take a data-driven approach to your marketing decisions. This is the only way to ensure that each one of your actions is engineered to get the greatest possible results for you, your business, or your clients. Be a scientist! The results speak for themselves: in a study among our customers from July to September of 2017, emails sent as part of an automation campaign vastly outperformed every other type of email, with a staggering 55.19 percent open rate and 13.18 percent click-through rate (CTR)!

It’s time to get more personal with your audience.

If you aren’t speaking directly to the individual needs of your contacts, you aren’t speaking to them at all. You’re always going to get a better result from your customer when you make them feel as though you’re having a one-on-one conversation with them and them alone — even if you’re sending out hundreds or thousands of emails as part of your campaign.

Fortunately, email automation allows you to do just that. By using a marketing automation software platform, you can customize every bit of your email — subject, greeting, content, delivery time, and more — to fit the preferences and habits of your individual customers. You can include information that’s relevant to them, address them by name, and mention their job titles or companies in the body of your email.

Treat your audience as individuals.

It’s a popular approach: over one-third of all emails sent via GetResponse from July to September featured personalized body content.

Personalization is a reliable strategy for increasing customer engagement with your content. It can improve both your CTR and open rates. Our results show this clearly: among our customers, emails with personalized body content achieved an open rate 8 percent higher than that of generic emails.

Product Marketing Specialist Sezgin Hergul on why personalization is one of 2018’s most promising marketing automation strategies.

Using the data collected by your marketing automation platform, you can begin to segment your contact list into “personas.” A persona represents a certain type of customer, and the more data you have, the more detailed your personas can get. And the more specific your personas, the more accurately you can target your campaigns to their individual needs, interests, and desires.

Segment your contacts into personas for a more customized approach. Source: GrowthPixel.com

After you’ve identified your personas, you can begin to shape your campaigns, so that they provide exactly what each group is looking for. Do your personas live in different time zones? You can adjust delivery times, so that each segment receives your email at the time when they are most likely to engage with it.

Remember those automation techniques we talked about earlier? (Hint: scoring, tagging and triggers). Guess what — they all count as personalization. Take the data you have, analyze it, learn about your subscribers, and put this information to good use. Any time you’re taking an action to deliver more relevant content to your subscribers, that’s personalization at work.

Shorter subject lines don’t always mean better open rates.

Traditional opinions on email subject lines dictate that shorter is always better. But is it? For today’s audiences, it seems as though this tactic isn’t as reliable as we once thought. According to our latest data, it’s actually the longer subject lines that reap better open rates, not the shorter ones. We found the highest open rates came from emails with subject lines of 90-119 characters. In comparison, subject lines of only 30-39 characters performed just over two-thirds as well.

Source: GetResponse’s Blog

Email marketing leader Kath Pay believes the best results stem from highly specific subject lines featuring detailed information that’s relevant to your contact. With subject lines, your goal is to give people a compelling reason to open your email and engage with it. It’s hard to demonstrate immediate value with just 30 characters (image source).

You can also use preheaders and preview text to follow up on the story you’re telling in your subject line. Even though many email clients won’t show your full subject — especially on mobile — the combination of a specific subject line and supporting preview text provides powerful motivation for your contact to take a closer look at what you have to say.

Source: GetResponse’s Blog

Email marketing is venturing into exciting new territory in 2018, and part of this transition means getting rid of outdated wisdom. Take advantage of your subject lines by making them a key element of your marketing message, and infuse your emails with irresistible content from the start.

Open your mind to the power of…the emoji 😎

Don’t be afraid to lighten the mood with an emoji or two, either. Emoji use shifted from 6.15 percent to 6.96 percent of emails sent during our test period. Learn to speak the language of your customers, and emoji can be an effective weapon in your arsenal. Take a look at this real-time emoji tracker for Twitter, and you’ll see just how insanely popular they are. Like it or not, emoji have become an integral part of the way we communicate online.

One place they’ll be especially useful for you is in the subject lines of your emails. As previously mentioned, you want to make sure you’re giving your contact a specific, easy to understand reason to open your email. With skilful use of emoji, you can quickly communicate your desired message.

Pop an emoji into your email subject to help it stand out. Source: RocketMarketingHub.com

Still, if you’re not sure that emoji are right for you, you can try them out with — you guessed it — A/B testing! Send an email with emoji to some of your contacts, and an emoji-free version to everyone else, and see what happens.

A word of caution – some emoji have secondary and tertiary layers of meaning, some of which are less than savory. Before you hit “Send,” be sure you’re communicating the right message. Otherwise, your contacts might 😂  instead of 😃 !

2018 emails need to be visually engaging.

Nobody likes reading the same thing over and over again. If you want to snag the attention of your audience, you’ll need to keep them on their toes. Including a healthy dose of variety in the emails you send has been shown to increase the effectiveness of your communication.

Embed YouTube videos in your emails for next-level content delivery.

One surefire way you can make your emails more interesting is by embedding a YouTube video. Compared to emails without video embeds, emails with YouTube content resulted in a CTR gain of almost 2 percent. Open rates benefit as well — almost six percent more in emails sent from July to September.

runtastic

Showcase the value of your offer with an interesting and informative video in an email message. Source: runtastic.com

Give your readers something to interact with.

Interactive emails have become the thing over the past few years, and they’re only going to get more exciting in 2018. You absolutely want to make sure you’re taking advantage of this trend before it becomes the new normal.

Think about it: if your readers wanted to look at a bunch of plain old text, they’d be reading a book. In today’s dynamic times, this approach doesn’t cut it anymore when it comes to getting people engaged with your messages. Instead, you’ll need to give them something that grabs their attention, communicates your idea in a novel way, and encourages them to tell their friends.

This interactive email transforms an inbox into a fully functional e-store. Source: NetDna.WebDesignerDepot.com

Landing pages have one purpose and one purpose only: conversion.

That’s it. Only one job. And to do that job, a landing page needs to be laser-focused on it’s purpose. To this end, you’ll want to create separate landing pages for each of your personas, based on their preferences. Adjust the content, tone, layout, and more to resonate as closely as possible with each persona. Among our users, the number of unique landing pages increased by almost 10 percent throughout our study period. And the average conversion rate increased from 7.11 percent up to 7.48 percentduring the same time.

Keeping that in mind, here are some tips to improve the average conversion rate of your landing pages:

  • Use bullet points. If you have something to explain, do it briefly and clearly.
  • Add value. Show your visitor what they have to gain from your offer.
  • Keep it clean. The layout should be crystal-clear and insanely simple to navigate.
  • No way out! No navigation menu, no social sharing, nothing except your offer. So…
  • Make that call to action (CTA) pop! Tell your visitor where to click by ensuring your CTA stands out.

Can you see how WalkMe’s landing page uses all the above strategies? Source: GetResponse’s Blog

If you’re not completely sure what might work best on your landing pages, you can always experiment with A/B testing. Give it a shot!

The way ahead

As email automation grows in popularity, many businesses outside its traditional market are getting in on the action. Agencies, automotive companies, health & beauty providers, and many others have made the decision to add email automation to their marketing plans. This is of course fantastic news for email marketers, but should also be seen as a word of encouragement for business owners. While you may not yet be automating your emails, many of your competitors likely are. It’s not too late to make email automation work for you as well.

Given these email marketing strategies for 2018, marketers and business owners alike have plenty to look forward to in the coming year. As email automation platforms get more and more sophisticated, they remain as easy to use as ever, while providing unprecedented levels of insight into customer behavior and preferences. If you’re not taking advantage of all email automation has to offer, now is a perfect time to get started.

If you found these tips and insights useful, take a moment to share them with your colleagues and friends!

2018 Email Marketing Strategy Guide

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