Email marketing is undergoing something of a revolution

7 minute read

TalkBusiness

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Sign-Up.to CEO Matt McNeill (MM) recently spoke to Talk Business Magazine (TB) to discuss some of the latest email marketing technologies…

TB – We hear a lot about responsive design. What is it and why is it so important?

MM – In a nutshell, it’s a process of coding email templates so that they automatically adjust to optimise the viewer’s experience on a whole range of devices – desktop, tablet or smartphone. The mobile consumption of emails has increased dramatically over the last few years. Today around 60% of all emails are opened on a mobile device, but only 18% of emails are optimised for that platform. Non-responsive emails have a very high abandon rate, over 80%. That’s a lot of potentially valuable content which is never reaching its intended audience.

TB – Interesting, how does it work?

MM – It’s much more than just scaling the email to fit a smaller screen. Responsive design automatically optimises the content for the viewing device. This includes re-arrangement of the layout, removal of less important content or images and scaling of text and other items to be more prominent. Responsive design is no longer a ‘nice to have’, that’s why all of the email templates we produce for our customers are now responsive – from the ground up.

TB – What other innovations are you working on?

MM – There’s a whole emerging area based around relevance – we refer to it as Precision Marketing. Over 800 billion emails were sent last year and even if you take out the 70% officially classed as spam that still represents a huge amount of legitimate emails competing for attention. Precision marketing is a great way of targeting highly relevant content to specific audience groups. Being relevant is essential for cutting through the noise and getting campaigns noticed.

TB – So how does Precision Marketing work?

MM – There are two aspects. Firstly, subscriber profiling – understanding the individuality your audience. Profiling ranges from collecting simple information like gender, location or birthday to a more in depth understanding of preferences and campaign engagement. We call these profiling ‘dimensions’ and our customers use them to create segmented groups or ‘audiences’ within their subscriber database. The second part is targeting. Audience profiling allows the creation of customised content that’s specifically relevant to the profile characteristics of each group. It can be done manually, but Dynamic Content is one of the most exciting developments. It automates the whole customisation process with readers receiving the same campaign seeing different content variations depending on their individual profile characteristics.

TB – Can you explain more about how Precision Marketing is being used?

MM – One of the simplest but most effective targeting applications is birthday messaging. Many businesses collect birthday data to send a timely special offer or personalised discount voucher. Multiple profiling dimensions can be combined so, if the location of the subscriber is known, the birthday offer could be linked to a local outlet or restaurant and, if their preferences are captured, even to their favourite product or menu.

TB – You mentioned engagement as a profiling dimension. What do you mean by this?

MM – Engaged customers are the ones who regularly open, click and interact with your marketing campaigns. They’re great for your business. In contrast, disengaged customers are those who have lost their original interest and may be drifting to your competitors. Engagement is an abstract concept that’s hard to quantify, so earlier this year we introduced a scoring algorithm that automatically captures how subscribers interact with campaigns over time. It gives a quantifiable measure of engagement and can be used to target future messages based on historical behaviour.

TB – So how would you use engagement profiling?

MM – 5-star subscribers, that’s those who are highly engaged, can be rewarded with loyalty schemes and special offers. One of our entertainment customers sent a campaign identifying and rewarding their top subscribers with VIP tickets. Their open rate increased from 18% to over 60%, that’s almost triple the industry average. At the other end of the scale, subscribers on the fringes of your audience can be targeted with re-engagement incentives or new messaging.

TB – What would you say is at the cutting edge of email marketing right now.

MM – We’re really excited about ‘Audience Insights’. This is a form of behavioural profiling which takes performance measurement way beyond both standard analytics and even engagement scoring. Most email campaigns contain goal-based links which drive readers onwards to a website. Audience Insights works by tracking a subscriber’s journey from the email campaign right through to their subsequent online activity, recording a range of data on their browsing behaviour, interests and purchases. The objective is the same, to capture valuable intelligence which can be used to continually refine future campaigns. We released Audience Insights this summer and it’s already being used by customers in ecommerce, travel, media and other applications.

TB – Thank you, our time is up. How can Talk Business readers find out more about Sign-Up.to?

MM – There’s lots of information on our website (www.signupto.com) and we hold regular webinars and free Discovery Mornings. The Sign-Up.to platform itself is really easy to use and we actively encourage people to open a free evaluation account to try it for themselves. Every customer is different so we’re always happy to discuss individual needs – so call us, we’re a friendly bunch.

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