In 2014, email marketing reaffirmed its effectiveness as a digital marketing channel. Technologies like countdown clocks, scratch and win, animated GIFs, and video in email have given a much needed refresh to many email marketing programs. MarketingSherpa reported that a large majority of American adults — 72% — prefer companies to communicate with them via email over any other channel and the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) proclaimed that email is still the best channel in terms of return on investment (ROI) with an average of 40:1!
Despite email’s recent successes, there are certain factors and challenges that you need to be aware of to ensure that in 2015 (and beyond) your organization is well prepared to succeed.
5 Major Factors Impacting Email Marketing:
- The (Continuing) Impact of Mobile & Devices
In 2014, mobile devices continued to significantly impact the email marketing industry. “Responsive” and “scalable” are no longer buzzwords but have become part of the email vernacular. The proportion of opens attributed to mobile is growing. In 2014 we have seen mobile opens level off at around 53%. As a result, email marketers have had to shift their strategies and tactics to a “mobile-first” mentality. Email marketers are in a battle for customer attention. Providing a positive experience is a critical factor in gaining and keeping this attention. You must consider the full experience from the email design, copy, subject line, and call to action through to landing pages and web forms. In 2015 it will be important to optimize your messaging so that subscribers can view and interact using their preferred device (i.e., phone, tablet, desktop).
- The Impact of Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation
On July 1st, 2014, CASL came into force. If you are not already familiar with CASL, get familiar. CASL prohibits the:
- Sending of CEMs without the recipient’s consent (permission), including messages to email addresses and social networking accounts, and text messages sent to a cell phone;
- Alteration of transmission data in an CEM which results in the message being delivered to a different destination without express consent;
- Installation of computer programs without the express consent of the owner of the computer system or its agent, such as an authorized employee;
- Use of false or misleading representations online in the promotion of products or services;
- Collection or use of personal information or electronic addresses through accessing a computer system in violation of federal law (e.g. The Criminal Code of Canada)
The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has a range of enforcement tools available. While there are no automatic penalties for violations, the CRTC judges each case based on a series of factors, including the nature of the violation, your history with CASL, whether you benefited financially from the violation, and your ability to pay a penalty. Penalties for the most serious violations of the act can go as high as $1 million for individuals and $10 million for businesses.
Find out more about CASL in this article.
- Increased Competitive Pressure
2014 saw companies from varying industries use more focused contact and content strategies. These email leaders are forcing batch and blast companies to become more strategic. Subscribers are constantly raising the bar on relevance; there is increasing demand to publish one-to-one content using personalization, dynamic content, and predictive intelligence. In 2015, we will see more companies transition from mass email to mass personalized email. Industry leaders will leverage triggered email programs, preference centres, and will pay close attention to their inactive subscribers, sending them fewer, but more targeted emails.
- Excess of Marketing Technology Companies
The market is overloaded with marketing technology vendors. In 2014 the number of these companies more than doubled from 900 to over 1800! Most marketers (63%) at midsize companies say they have too many vendors to manage them effectively. According to a 2014 report from DNN Software, CMOs are uncertain which tech they should even consider for their marketing infrastructure. Marketers still feel their job is more challenging despite tech advances, meaning technology has yet to make marketing any easier. In 2015, smart marketers will look to reduce the number of 3rd party vendors they work with to those only addressing programs related to their core business.
- Big Data
Companies operate in a world of data. With so many digital messaging channels churning out a seemingly endless amount of metrics, how can anyone make sense of it all? How does one find insights in their data to move the needle and improve their ROI? When it comes to email, data provides an opportunity for you to create your ideal engagement scenario with your customers. The challenge is to mine the customer data for patterns, actionable insights, and ways to connect them with other data sets to help drive your marketing strategy.
Email Marketing Benchmarks
To help you asses your program’s success we recommend benchmarking. In the 2015 edition of our Email Marketing Benchmark Report we provide an additional commentary on these factors, as well as email metric trends and North American benchmarks. Use these benchmarks and trends to help gauge your organization’s performance.