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In the ever-evolving realm of digital, email could almost be considered as an old school form of marketing.
However it’s still a hugely effective tool for driving traffic and sales, particularly when combined with personalised content and offers.
As such it’s a topic we frequently write about here on the Econsultancy blog with the posts often proving to be a good starting point for debate among our readers.
On one of my recent posts about mobile optimisation a commenter from Nordstrom suggested that I focus my efforts on reviewing how different brands handle transactional emails.
I promised that I would, but first of all I had to do some research to find out what she meant by ‘transactional email’.
Marketers that feel there is just not enough time to spend on email marketing, you may be slightly comforted to know that you are not alone.
The bid to keep up with the evolving nature of email marketing is a challenge many organisations are struggling with, according to marketers that attended Econsultancy’s Festival of Marketing.
Several senior client-side marketers gathered together for Digital Cream during the Festival, where email marketing, among other topics, was discussed at great lengths.
The general consensus? Emaiil has great potential to become even more efficient than it already is. It's just going to take skills, buy-in and time that many do not have... yet.
While these discussions were under the Chatham House Rules, the insights gleaned have been pulled together to create the new Email Marketing Trends Briefing published this week by Econsultancy in association with Pure360.
The trends briefing, which is free for registered users, also contains some best practice tips, market data and case studies.
Writing an email subject line is a fine art that requires a high level of creativity as well as careful analysis of what customers respond to.
It’s not easy coming up with varied topics that pique the reader’s interest while avoid becoming monotonous or relying too heavily on sales and promotions.
Luckily there are a huge number of case studies published online that help to give marketers inspiration by revealing the type of content and tactics that will increase engagement. But that doesn't mean that the subject line can be neglected in favour of focusing on the email content.
Email frequency in general has been a hot topic recently. Whatever your opinion or approach is on this topic, it’s inevitable that your email frequency is going to increase over the upcoming holiday period.
As you can see from this chart, many retailers don’t hold back!
Relevancy and context are a powerful combination of factors that can have a huge impact on the success of digital marketing campaigns.
A good example of this are triggered emails that are sent in response to a particular customer action or behaviour.
As one would probably expect, triggered emails have a far higher open rate than standard email newsletters.
Data from ExpertSender shows that the average open rate for triggered emails was consistently around 45% to 55% for the year to date, some four times higher compared to email newsletters which averaged around 10%.
Mobile email is a major challenge for businesses as studies have shown that as much as 50% of marketing messages are opened on mobile devices.
Obviously the precise figure varies drastically from company to company, so the need to optimise for mobile will be less important for some businesses.
But even so, it’s an issue that all businesses will have to deal with at some point in the next year or so.
One option for dealing with mobile email is responsive design, which uses one set of code that renders an email differently when viewed on a desktop, tablet or smartphone.
This means that the user experience is optimised regardless of where and when the recipient decides to open the email.
Often when we think about email marketing we’re considering the proactive angle, such is email’s power as a direct marketing tool to drive sales.
But it’s equally powerful as a reactive channel. How it’s used for those who are buying, or thinking about buying, is a crucial part of the purchase journey. It can be the dividing line between whether customers buy from you again, or buy from you at all.
We recently purchased items from 40 of the top online retailers in the UK and the US, marking their performance for use of email throughout the purchase journey.
Here are a few of the things we learnt.
Basket abandonment is an inevitability in ecommerce as it's all to easy for shoppers to lose interest, decide to buy from a competitor, balk at delivery charges, or back out because they were only browsing.
We've previously highlighted stats which show that the most common causes are high shipping costs and forced registration, both of which are fairly simple to remedy.
And these new case studies reveal more reasons behind why customers abandon shopping carts, as well as demonstrating the success that can be achieved with retargeting emails...
It seems that more and more brands are jumping on the responsive email design bandwagon lately.
And rightly so, Litmus announced this month that mobile opens reached a record high of 47%! They are also predicting that mobile opens will reach over 50% by the end of the year.
One trend that I've also recently started to notice and something I can see becoming much more popular in the near future is tablet optimization. This is achieved with media queries that specifically target the screen sizes of tablet devices or larger smartphones.
The Expedia and Playstation emails below are particularly good examples of how this should be done.
We're also starting to see marketers use media queries to display mobile specific content. One example of this is showing an Apple app store / Google Play icon when you view the email on a smartphone. I expect to see more and more brands use this technique in a wide variety of ways in the near future.
So here are 10 of the best responsive email designs that I've seen in the last month.
Professional sports teams in general seem to leave much to be desired when it comes to digital marketing.
They all seem to have overly complicated looking websites with giant splash pages, big background images and loads of advertising.
Many teams also seem to follow no best practices when it comes to email marketing, with hard to find sign-up forms, no segmentation and terrible designs.
There is one sports team which continually scores highly in my books, though: Manchester City Football Club. Here’s what I like.
There are many factors that influence whether or not people bother to open your marketing emails or not.
Email frequency, brand affinity and time of day are all influential, as is the subject line that marketers opt for.
The precise wording will vary depending on the brand identity and the product offer, but the basic aim is to grab the reader’s attention and make them interested enough to clickthrough and find out more.
To help get to the bottom of what makes up the best subject line, I’ve rounded up a few case studies and infographics that try to shed some light on the topic.
Signing up to receive a retailer’s email newsletters always seems like a good idea at the time, but it’s almost inevitable that at some point the relationship will sour and you’ll be forced to search for the unsubscribe button.
And although marketers would obviously rather do everything in their power to prevent people from opting out of their email list, it’s in their best interest to make it a simple process otherwise it can harm the brand’s image and make it appear spammy.
To find out whether this is true in reality, I tried to opt-out of email newsletters from several fashion retailers.