Customer Portfolios' Blog

The Changing Dynamics of Email Marketing


At least once a day, I read an article stating that email marketing, as we once knew it is dead. But then the very next day, I read another article saying that email marketing is alive and well. Why the disconnect? On one hand, email has made it easier for marketers to easily engage with customers and prospects for a low cost. However, on the other hand, email is just one of many marketing channels that people engage with.

So, which is it? Unfortunately, it is not so simple of making a declarative statement that it is alive in well or it’s dying. Rather, the very nature of email as we once knew it has changed and as such, marketers need to adapt their strategies to ensure that their emails are relevant and not lost among the noise of the other channels.

Rise of Smartphone Culture

It’s Apple’s world, and we are all just living in it. Nearly two thirds of Americans own smartphones and today’s customers are not passive users. A study done in 2015 showed that half of those who received marketing emails opened these emails on a mobile device. But what does this mean for marketers? For starters, they need to refocus their email marketing campaigns to make them mobile responsive opposed to desktop friendly. By having a mobile-centric email marketing campaign, emails that are responsive to mobile opens get 24% more clicks, with a 55% higher open rate.

“Today, if a marketer isn’t thinking mobile first and desktop second, they’re probably lagging behind,” says Kaila Garrison of Oracle Responsys. Marketers need to be able to detect which device a person is using so they can change the design or content of the email accordingly. In addition to knowing the difference between mobile and desktop, marketers should also begin to take a look at differences of mobile devise such as iPhone or an Android phone and can continue to alter emails accordingly.

Don’t Forget About Gen Z…

The oldest of the next generational cohort, dubbed Generation Z, is entering college. This is also sometimes nicknamed the Apple Generation, as they have never known a world without Internet or computing. Not surprisingly, their attitudes towards technology are much different from preceding generations.  

TechCrunch reported recently that email is a dying trend among thirteen to twenty-four year olds. Instead of email, this cohort prefers communicating through messaging apps. However, Internet Retailer points towards research that this generation still prefers to be contacted by email compared to over both text and push notification.

Leverage Personalization to Drive Engagement

Another tactic that marketers need to adapt is personalization within emails. Both qualitative and quantitative researchers suggest that leveraging personalization via CRM databases is going to become the standard for most companies in the future. Personalization is an simple yet effective way of differentiating treatment of customers. From the customer’s perspective, it shows effort on the brand’s part for tailoring content.

Today, most marketers have adopted a personalization strategy, or they are preparing to start one. In a study done by Forrester, 40% of customers said most promotions they get don’t interest them. By closing the gap between data’s potential and the current reality, marketers can improve the way they gather and leverage customer data to improve their email marketing campaigns.

In summary, while it is clear email marketing is not going away anytime soon, the dynamics of email have changed. By thinking about who the target is and how they like to consume information, marketers can create more meaningful and effective email campaigns.


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