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Lean into Email in 2022: An Interview with iContact’s Hank Hoffmeier

I like email. Data says almost all of us do.

Email breathes easier than the social noise pollution of customers and brands trying to shout at each other through a disjointed deluge of disaster and dog photos. Ever notice how your brain feels switching from the overstimulation of Twitter to the one-on-one hush of a list of emails which you can either choose to open or delete? Do you experience a difference? Stats indicate that our private email inboxes are a sort of refuge we’ve come to count on, a quieter corner where people can experience satisfying customer service when done right.

The profit and popularity of email marketing

Miriam: A stat which stunned me is that email marketing generates $42 for every $1 spent, yet I sometimes feel like email has been presented as “boring” vs. the glaring busy box of social. 

According to Demand Curve, email marketing has a higher ROI than any other form of publicity, can drive 6x more conversions than Twitter posting, and is 40 x more likely to be noticed than what a company posts on Facebook. Email marketing allows you to send the right message, to the right person, at the right time, at a ridiculously low cost. Stop throwing money at PPC and social media advertising that takes longer to convert and costs so much.

Email marketing allows you to get personal with your subscribers. This is either not plausible or can be very challenging with other channels like social media that require you to follow customers to message or DM them. Email is where we obtain long form personal messages, obtain order and shipping information, and communicate at work.

With your email marketing campaigns, each message can feel like a one-on-one conversation by using segmentation and personalization. Subscribers can be greeted by first name and can experience content that matters to them on the basis of data such as survey information, purchase history, engagement history and more. Make sure to ask for information to help provide a better experience for your subscribers.

Data privacy is going to be trending next year. Email marketers are going to need to do more with less. We are seeing more of an emphasis being placed on data privacy. Apple in particular is creating a challenge in measuring email open rates and identifying subscriber location. For sure, we will see more email and technology companies follow suit. There is also the pending demise of third party cookies to worry about.

By collecting first party data, marketers will be able to continue segmenting, targeting and personalizing their emails for maximum effect. Things that will help marketers prepare would be updating sign up-forms, using surveys, and integrating with CRMs and e-commerce platforms to make better use of data being collected.

For the most part, the differences are small between brick-and-mortar and e-commerce emails. They are both similar in that brands are looking for conversions and the differentiation is that the conversion for brick-and-mortar can drive traffic into a physical location vs. e-commerce’s solely online purchases. The same email marketing best practices work for both entities.

According to the IDC, 80% of people check their email within 15 minutes of waking up. Email is still the preferred method of communication for consumers. We buy stuff and want to know when it will ship. We want to be entertained and inspired. Marketers need to educate and inform their subscribers using email.

Emails that have images and video tend to perform best. According to Forrester, video content has a 95% retention rate versus a 10% rate with text only. Use more images and videos in your email marketing campaigns to entertain and inform.

The mobile mountain and the marketers’ meh

Miriam: 64% of small businesses are using email marketing, but one-in-five campaigns isn’t formatted for mobile use. This is a huge mountain of a problem! Both Moz and iContact care a lot about SMBs.

Let’s face it, we live in a mobile world. More than half of email opens are on a mobile device. If you are not creating mobile responsive email campaigns, you are creating friction with your recipients. It is a bad experience that will lead to subscribers ignoring your emails or worse, marking them as spam or unsubscribing.

Almost every email marketing platform will have a drag and drop email editor that inherently creates a mobile responsive version for you. iContact has an easy-to-use editor that provides inspiration and great results.

Let’s cover some basic items:

  • Email content needs to have the ability to stack elements on top of one another and images and text must conform to the size of the screen they are being displayed on
  • Avoid images with small details that will not render well on mobile, while also making sure that your content is not cluttered and allows for finger-friendly clicks and scrolling. Calls to action, such as buttons need to be legible and clickable.
  • Use larger font sizes, shorter subject lines, avoid stacking links, and the most important tip is to test, test, test!

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