As the latest trends in email marketing show, we are moving in a direction in which email marketing is becoming more sophisticated as more intelligence is gathered and used to conduct ever more focused and refined email campaigns.
This “intelligent marketing” is based on gathering information about prospects-their personas, likes, activities, and stated preferences–and using that intelligence to effectively target those prospects and persuasively engage and sell them.
Intelligent marketing includes monitoring behavior, profiling, segmenting, personalizing, and using triggered emails. Mining social media for intelligence is a key element of these strategies.
Experts advise using data appending services to obtain demographic and firmographic information that enables more sophisticated segmentation and personalization. Optify, for example, in “Website visitor & lead intelligence: your sales enablement secret weapon” describes how sophisticated marketing software can detect a visitor’s IP address, look up domain ownership, and append firmographic data from trusted databases.
Similarly, Carolyn Nye advises marketers to consider data append services to obtain physical addresses, demographics, shopping behavior, likes, and interests to enable you to develop a segmented email approach.
That triggered and personalized email produces superior results is seen in a number of studies. Silverpop’s latest survey shows that companies that provide personalized behavior-based content are far more likely to receive the highest ranking for open rates, click-through rates, and clicks-per-clicker.
Cara Olson of Marketing Land reports that triggered emails generate the highest performance metrics, including ROI, of all emails sent, while Epsilon and Email Experience Council report that open rates for triggered messages were 75% higher than business-as-usual messages, and triggered click rates 119% higher.
While triggered email has been in use, the triggers themselves are becoming more sophisticated and intelligent, based on more gathered intelligence (social media, behavior tracking, demographics) and triggered more immediately in response to customer and prospect activities.
Speed of response has been shown to yield higher conversion rates, and more sophisticated data collection and segmentation are being used for driving immediate triggers-to deliver more personalized content at the right moments.
Loren McDonald of Email Insider describes how marketers can expand their behavior-based email triggering, including tracking new subscribers on your website to see what they are interested in and placing them into appropriate email tracks to engage them with content relevant to their interests.
Ric Dragon on MarketingProfs describes how social media data can be used to practice “micro-segmentation,” while Cara Olson argues that marketers should expand the coverage of their triggered email programs and deepen their sophistication to create more engaged subscribers “and most importantly, more revenue from email.”
In surveying the marketing landscape we find that a good number of analysts and email marketing experts are describing the opportunities and challenges that new forms of intelligent email marketing present.
McKinsey & Company, for example, describes how social media can be used for “targeted marketing responses at individual touch points along the consumer decision journey.”‘ CEOs, says McKinsey, can no longer treat social media as a side activity, rather they should plan and scale social media in a way that can open up new channels for interactions and “completely reposition a brand through the way its employees interact with customers or other parties.”
Overall, marketers who put more intelligence into their campaigns see better results. As Adestra’s Email Marketing Industry Census 2012 showed, those marketers using advanced functionality and putting greater efforts into their email marketing campaigns were more likely to consider the ROI from email to be “excellent” or “good.”
However, the study also showed that, despite the fact that greater email sophistication and best practice produces better results, many marketers are not taking advantage of this. The census found that only 31% of companies operated welcome programs through email, and only 28% sent out a triggered email in response to a site visit or sign-up.