A PostUp guest post featuring TechnologyAdvice.
Shelly Alvarez, Director of Client Services at PostUp, was a recent guest on the TechnologyAdvice Expert Interview Series to share her insight on email marketing and personalization. The series, which is hosted by TechnologyAdvice’s Clark Buckner, explores a variety of business and technology landscapes through conversations with industry leaders.
Alvarez joined Buckner to discuss email marketing trends she emphasized during her one-on-one clinics as a sponsor at MarketingSherpa’s Email Summit this year.
Here are some highlights from the conversation:
TA: How have marketing automation strategies and trends changed between last year’s Email Summit and this year’s, based on what you’ve experienced in your one-on-one clinics?
Shelly: Last year, it was all about mobile and mobile optimization, including responsive design. This year, even though we still did get some questions about mobile, it felt like most companies had this box checked on their lists and were wondering, “Now what do we do next?” So this year, it was all about nurturing and all about personalization. Marketers want to know how to learn more about their customers and the topics that interest them, and communicate with them in a more effective way.
I think it has to do with the ever-changing landscape of the customer’s inbox. It becomes more and more challenging to not only capture the interest of an end user or your customer, but it’s something even simpler like getting into the inbox at all. The internet service providers (ISPs) are making it more and more challenging to deliver that email into that inbox. So once you get there, you need to make sure your content is very relevant, very up to date, and very personalized, so that those end users will continue to open it time and time again.
TA: That’s a great point because there is a lot of noise in the inbox that marketers need to cut through in order to get to their customers. A recent email marketing studyrevealed that 60 percent of adults read business emails, but only 16 percent of them do so on a regular basis. And the biggest offenses that cause emails to be flagged as spam are irrelevant content and emailing too often. How can marketers avoid these mistakes?
Shelly: The key to that is personalization. Make sure that what you’re delivering to your customer is appealing and interesting to them. There are a couple of ways that you can do that, but the simplest is just to ask them! When you’re capturing a subscriber’s email address, ask them what type of information they want receive from you, and that of course is going to depend on what you offer. Let’s say you’re a restaurant. Do your customers want to hear about daily soup specials or do they just want to hear about daily dessert specials?
Including a preference center where your customers can select the kind of content they want and the frequency they wish to receive your emails is just about as personalized as it gets. I think in today’s marketing landscape where it’s all about collecting data, we can sometimes overlook the simplest answers. Instead of guessing, just asking your customers what they want can go a long way in making sure you stay out of the spam folder.
TA: Aside from responsive and personalized emails, what can companies do to follow best marketing automation practices for lead nurturing?
Shelly: Content is above all the most important part of creating a successful nurturing program. If you don’t have good, relevant content on your website that you can direct people to, it’s going to be very difficult to produce any type of nurturing series, whether that’s a welcome series or an ongoing series. Relevant, informative content pulls customers in and gets them interested in your company, what you have to say, and gets them engaged with your brand. End users are much savvier than they were a few years ago — they know what kind of content they want and they know it’s out there, so if you don’t offer it, they will lose interest in your email marketing campaign and go elsewhere.
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