Email marketing has entered a new era of innovation, allowing marketers to reach consumers with highly personalized and dynamic experiences like never before. As a result, expectations are rising. Consumers now require relevancy. To effectively break through the noise, marketers must speak to them on an individual level-wherever they are.
This can mean where they are in the purchase funnel, which device they're accessing a brand on or even where they are on the planet.
Contextual email can provide up-to-the minute, personalized content that turns subscribers into loyal fans and readers. Plus, in terms of return on investment (ROI), it's tough to beat email. For every $1 spent on email marketing, the average return is $44.25, according to Email Expert.
For marketers in the publishing, media and entertainment industries, the challenges are unique. Content ages quickly-breaking news, ticket sales and game scores are hot news one minute and irrelevant the next.
Here are six best practices to help keep your content fresh and up to date.
Optimize for mobile
Marketers should continue to prioritize mobile. However, although consumers are engaging more with email on mobile devices, desktop still remains an important factor to consider. Many media, publishing and entertainment email opens and conversions still happen on a desktop - 37 percent and 55 percent respectively in 2015 according to internal research.
Responsive design is just the beginning of how emails can be optimized for mobile. Go beyond responsive design and use device detection to offer up the appropriate version of your app download file for whichever device your subscriber is using (iOS or Android) with just one click. One-click actions increase the chances subscribers will follow through, and device detection has proven to significantly increase app downloads.
Make Content Relevant at a Local Level
You can increase email subscriptions and opens by using consumer data to more precisely target audiences and personalize messaging. While targeting audience segments with the right message has always been a priority for marketers, using tools like geo-targeting can take relevance to the next level by identifying the recipient's location and serving up location-specific content.
By incorporating geo-targeted content for local specials, events and news, you're offering your audience messaging they're more likely to care about and act on. According to Balihoo, geo-targeting can increase click-through rates from the standard of 1.5 - 3.5 percent to 13 percent.
For example, if you're targeting college students, geo-targeting helps boost engagement and registrations by determining where students are opening emails and offering school-specific versions of the publication. Students, who open at or near a certain school, get that particular edition.
Drive Sales with Live Inventory
For events like concerts and sports, you can drive ticket sales by offering real-time, interactive ticket services in an email. By using an API to pull in live inventory, customers will always see the most up-to-date ticket options each time they open the email. You can also use live inventory to incentivize an upgrade. For example, provide additional available seat options based on the seat they already purchased with a live inventory chart that refreshes each time they go back into the email.
Offer Up-to-the-Minute Content
Information changes quickly. Your number one priority is creating world-class, compelling messaging. Without up-to-the-minute content, your emails fail to be relevant and useful to your audience, and you'll see a continuous stream of "unsubscribes." The challenge to most marketers in your industry: Email production can be time consuming, so by the time you hit "send," your content is most likely outdated.
How can you leverage the reach of email and ensure access to your freshest content? Web cropping lets you pull live website content into your emails that updates whenever you update your website-even when it's already in your subscriber's inbox.
For example, you can Web crop news articles from your site to pull in an up-to-the-minute news feed. You can even set parameters to automatically identify and send your most popular content, extending the reach of your stories that have already proven effective. Web cropping also saves production time, eliminating the need to duplicate your efforts and create new content for both your website and email.
Use the Power of Social to Drive Sales
Social media drives sales. According to PwC, 62 percent of consumers say social media interactions drives them to buy more in most or some cases. Incorporating social media into your email campaigns can help you leverage the power of social in two ways: Creating an engaged social community and letting your fans share their positive experiences.
Create an opportunity for consumers to come together to experience your brand. Pull in a live social feed from your Twitter account so recipients can stay up-to-date on the latest social buzz around their favorite shows, artists or news stories. You can also let your happy customers do the talking for you. Offer an incentive (e.g., a chance to win a free upgrade or swag) for them to share their love for your brand on Instagram or Twitter.
Personalize Content with Consumer Data
In order to truly personalize your emails, you need accurate, up-to-date consumer data on your subscribers. Collecting that data can be a challenge. User preference centers often have low participation rates, and the more fields a form has, the less likely it will be completed. As a matter of fact, according to QuickSprout, increasing the number of options in your form fields from three to six can decrease conversion rates by 66 percent.
Progressive profiling is a form of gamification using polls in emails to continuously collect deeper insights about a consumer, while creating an engaging, interactive email experience that encourages subscribers to participate. According to M2 Research, gamification can lead to a 100 to 150 percent increase in engagement.
Giving customers an opportunity to vote for their favorite news categories, artists, shows, and other preferences allows you to build a data profile and send more relevant content based on their preferences.
Email marketing now offers the media, publishing and entertainment industries exciting and innovative ways to push campaigns to the next level by creating targeted, personalized experiences for customers. Incorporating these tactics into your email strategy is a simple win.
Adam Stambleck works with the world's leading brands to understand their goals and drive results-focused digital marketing programs. With more than a decade of direct and interactive marketing experience, he ensures that every client succeeds in his role as VP of client experience at Movable Ink.