You have most likely already come to the realization that it is no simple task to reach a larger audience and to maintain a consistent and intimate relationship with them. The realm of digital marketing is steamrolling ahead at a dizzying, unstoppable pace. Each day sees the introduction of new tools, solutions and platforms designed to simplify the lives of email marketers. It is truly a case of not being able to see the forest for its trees.
As a person who “lives” on a diet of online tools and “eats” platforms as a side dish, I categorize the digital tools that I use into two groups: “must-have” and “nice-to-have”. A must-have tool, that I, personally, am very happy to have come across this past year and, which I am not going to let you pass up on, is ActiveTrail: a smart email marketing system, that is, WOW, so easy to use. I admit, I love it!
Other than the fact that email marketing is known to yield the largest ROI in the digital world, it provides an excellent means for reaching customers, understanding their habits and forging real relationships with them.
Email marketing is a superb tool that has only improved over the past year. Here are a few of the latest innovations:
1. Marketing Automation
YEA! I waited for this for a long time! For those not familiar with the term, it refers to a system (similar to a virtual computer game) that is able to determine, ahead of time, series of emails to be delivered to registrants at specific times, a true flowchart with multiple “stations” or “stops”. For instance: a new contact signs up to receive a certain store’s newsletter. We can set things up, such that an email containing information regarding existing products will be sent after one minute, to be followed one week later by an email describing discounted products. This happens automatically, with minimal intervention (just the way we like it). We can establish stops only for those who have opened or haven’t opened the email, have clicked or haven’t clicked on the link that you sent them, have or have not made a purchase on your site, etc. We may also time emails to be sent in intervals of minutes, hours, days and even months.
You have probably encountered, what I like to call “exactly when…” emails. Behind the scenes of these emails is a mechanism that allows you to schedule your emails to be delivered at precisely the right time! For example: a “Welcome” email sent to a customer immediately after filling out a registration form for your site; an email with a special birthday gift; a reminder email one day before Valentine’s Day; an email one hour before the start of a webinar and more. Trigger-based emails may be sent as part of an automation, as part of a series of emails or as an individual email sent the moment a trigger is activated. Emails that are controlled by triggers help provide to make things personal… and this, my friends, is what makes all the difference.
3. Smart Segmentation
Remember when marketing emails would be sent to everyone on your mailing list? Email marketing has undergone a transformation, and emails today are much more personal and focused. Consequently, segmenting your mailing list is of utmost importance. Newer email marketing systems allow you to segment and divide up your customers into groups based on characteristics such as: areas of interest, age, place of residence, gender and more. In this fashion, you may, for instance, designate automation stops that match the groups to which your contacts belong, e.g.: if you generate “women only” content, you may assign a stop in your flow chart for the “women” group, which causes an automatic email describing sales on under garments, to be sent to them.
Yes, the same topic we discussed in the previous section. Today, it is most definitely not enough to “land” in a recipient’s inbox. To get them to open your mails, you must tailor your content and messaging specifically to each recipient. Why? Because your recipients will relate much better to personal emails, leading – you guessed it – to increased opening rates! There is a wide array of options to address your recipients on a personal level, both in the subject line and in the body of emails, such as: using a recipients name in the subject line, adding a customer’s birth date into an emails’ body design, defining different pictures to be sent to men or women, creating a subject line for those who live in Tel Aviv and a different subject for residents of Los Angeles… pretty cool, no?
5. Predictive Delivery
We continually ponder the question of “When is the best time to send a marketing email?” Well, your aren’t going to be happy with my response: it really does depend. On who? On the recipient. As such, when selecting an email marketing platform, make sure that it also has a tool for forecasting delivery times. Not many systems have this amazing feature that was introduced this past year, so choose carefully. Its worth it! Such a tool will deliver your email campaign to each of your subscribers at the optimal time, for them specifically. No, he or she, will not be making themselves coffee 😉…
6. Integration – as Easy as 123
As I mentioned at the opening, there’s a whole slew of solutions available in the market, and when each tool speaks only with itself, it is difficult to see a complete picture of your digital landscape. The last piece of the puzzle that will allow everything to work together in synergy is: integration. To fully exploit automation and the other advanced email marketing features, it is now possible, and recommended (!!) to create interfaces between your email marketing system and: your website, CRM system, PayPal, eCommerce store, Facebook lead generation posts and more… If you are capable, and you are interested in interfacing pro-grammatically via code, then RESTful API is the API that developers will want to work with. In this fashion, you will be able to generate precise, attractive email campaigns, just as you would in ActiveTrail’s web system. If you don’t have the energy, the time or the skills to interface using code, it is worth your while to take a look at Zapier, a tool that allows you to integrate between almost any possible systems without writing a single line of code.
I have been using ActiveTrail over the past few months, and for me, it has been super convenient and intuitive! ActiveTrail’s Visual Automations system realistically simulates drawing a flowchart on canvas… thereby giving you a picture of how, and to where your campaigns are going. The system allows me to easily generate handsome newsletters, to create as many groups as I wish, to address my subscribers personally… and much more.
Look… Marketing automation is continually becoming more and more sophisticated – it is a tool that is definitely worth learning about and using – and I am very excited to find out more about the new directions this world is moving to.
I hope that you feel the same!