Looking ahead: 2010 e-mail marketing trends

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If the recent StrongMail “2010 Marketing Trends” survey is correct, online marketing spending will be up in the coming year. According to the report, 89% of respondents said they will either maintain or increase the amount of their marketing spending in 2010, with 50% of businesses saying they would allocate additional dollars to their marketing efforts. The survey, conducted online Nov. 17–25, surveyed 1,057 business executives.

What will they be spending their dollars on? Social media and e-mail marketing are the top two areas, with 69% of respondents saying they will be increasing e-mail spending; 59% saying they would be increasing social media efforts; and 69% saying they would be integrating social media and e-mail marketing. They will do so using several strategies, said Kristin Hersant, StrongMail’s director of corporate marketing.

“We see marketers getting a lot more sophisticated, leveraging the viral aspect of the Web,” she said. “For example, using targeted segmentation to create a referral program with their top influencers, who they know are most active with their brand.”

Hersant said tools are finally coming to the market that will help marketers tease out the most active users on their lists by examining engagement metrics. Companies such as UnBound Technologies and Rapleaf Inc. can scrub those lists to determine which recipients are active in the social networking world and the networks they are on.

Among their goals, marketers reported a desire to increase relevancy by adopting segmentation and targeting, cited by 46% of respondents.

“We also think that marketers will be able to increase relevancy by using video in e-mail,” Hersant said. “Video is going to make it a lot easier to promote the things that their customers are interested in, such as webinars, training and product education. We’re seeing a lot of promise in a technology that turns video into animated GIFs so it looks like a video is playing, but it’s not.”

Relevance engines, a new technology that makes it easier to perform A/B testing, should become more important in 2010, she said. “It’s always challenging to come up with two sets of creative, but with subject lines, everyone can do some form of A/B testing,” she said. “These new tools will enable marketers to test on the fly and optimize for winning subject line as a campaign is in flight.”

Of course, marketers will also strive to make better use of what they already have available to them, Hersant said, with 68% of respondents saying that they plan on making better use of the data they already have.

“The key here is you don’t have to boil the ocean,” Hersant said. “You should be targeted, for instance, based on what people have already purchased—sending e-mail messages based on those products—but it’s something that a lot of marketers still aren’t doing.”

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