Five email to-dos

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We're at the beginning of the second quarter of 2012. Where are you in your email marketing journey? Here are five things email marketers should be doing, or thinking about doing, this year.
  1. Take a look at merging email marketing and “gamification.” Gamification, which gives users incentives to take specific actions—reading content, coming back to a website or following a call to action—is hot. Direct spending on the marketing technology is expected to hit $2.8 billion, up from $100 million last year, according to M2 Research. That's probably why email vendors are rushing to provide integration. For example, Constant Contact this week announced its service is now integrated with Fanplayr, a social couponing and gamification service. That said, those companies already using gamification on their websites should look into using it in email communications, as well.
  2. Track email activity all the way to conversion. This has been a topic of study for some time now, said Josh Boaz managing director of digital marketing company Direct Agents. However, few marketers have been able to pull it off. “People would say they were focusing on the conversion tunnel, but didn't have the advanced email analytics they needed to see what was happening on the website after someone clicked,” he said. “A first touch might happen in email, but then subsequent contact might happen on the Web, in social media [or] on the phone.” This is why marketers should be tying email metrics to their CRM systems to better track both the profitability of an email and its conversion rate, he said.
  3. Focus on re-engaging disengaged customers. Marketers may be excited if they have a 20% open rate, but what they should be thinking about is the 80% they leave on the table, said George DiGuido, VP-email marketing at Zeta Interactive. “People are starting to look at their lists from the nonresponder side of things and attempting to get them to re-engage,” he said. Yes, some nonresponders may have switched jobs, signed up to get a perk or changed email addresses; but there are plenty of people who just need better content to get them interested again, DiGuido said. A good place to start: Look at the last pieces of content they opened before they stopped responding.
  4. Take mobile into account. Everyone knows mobile is growing, but few marketers have evolved their campaigns and analytics to support the trend. “With up to 25% to 40% of emails being opened on mobile devices, we'll soon see mobile overtake the PC when it comes to email opens,” Boaz said. “Email marketers need to figure out the best way to track those users into a mobile browser and then add some type of call to action that's specific for a mobile experience.”
  5. Launch retargeting campaigns. With analytics, you can see, for example, that someone clicked through, stayed 30 seconds on a product page, then downloaded a white paper. What should you do with that information? Retarget that subscriber, since he or she is quite possibly a warm lead, DiGuido said. “It's something we recommend to all our clients, but with resource restraints, few marketers can actually make this happen,” he said.
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