Email Marketing Trends for 2018

If relevance, quality, and effective content delivery aren’t a part of your marketing strategy, settle in for a frustrating and unrewarding 2017 and 2018.

As always, to succeed you need to think about the needs of your customers. You need visibility and you need to stay ahead of your competition. None of this is easy.

So, which email marketing trend is right for your business? Below are the top email marketing trends for 2018 to drive traffic and increase conversions.

Trend 1 
Increase Newsletter Subscription via a Two-Step Opt-in Process

Two-step Opt-in by LeadPages (Sign-up form in their blog)

With a single opt-in process, visitors to your site who fill out your newsletter signup form will immediately be added to your mailing list — even if the email address they added is invalid or there’s a typo. This can clog your e-mail list with bad email addresses and can generate spam complaints from people who don’t remember signing up.

Most websites use this single opt-in option. However, for higher open rates for your newsletters and to increase your opt-in numbers, a two-step process is a more effective strategy. In fact, you can increase your opt-in rate by 60% using a two-step process. Here’s an example of a two-step process, visitors fill out a survey and at the end are given the option to subscribe to your newsletter.

It may seem like asking your visitors to take this extra step is repetitive and counterintuitive, let me explain why you’re wrong. A single opt-in process is a little like spam. Many sites and blogs use this strategy, they bombard visitors with pop-ups, slide ups and sidebars. With a two-step process, you filter out visitors who are less likely to convert. Your resulting mailing list is filled with more genuinely interested customers. This strategy is based on timing and is driven by your visitors, it’s less aggressive and according to our research is therefore better received.

Don’t get me wrong though, if you’re willing to just play a numbers game, the conventional sign-up form will still work pretty well. However, if your two-step opt-in process is done correctly, it will simply convert better.

Trend 2 
Entry Popups Done Right

You need highly attractive and effective pop-ups if you want quality leads. The secret is a CTA (call to action) that will somehow convince your website visitors to say “yes”. This is a cool and relatively new way to increase your leads and user engagement. It’s been proven to help increase conversions and develop consumer relationships. To see these results though, you need to do it right.

So what’s the secret? Testing. Use a pop-up builder with an inbuilt A/B testing ability to save you time. Your goal here is to create a pop-up which drives maximum conversions for your website.

Below are some awesome entry pop-ups from some of the best marketers online:

Affposts’ entry pop-up

This pop-up is pretty straight forward. It’s clearly stated what you will get when you subscribe.

You won’t be able to see in the image above, but there’s a mouse indicator in the outlined form field that draws your attention — it’s sort of a CTA. I find it a brilliant way to increase conversions by multiples. However the design is a bit outdated. It’s a bit plain and could probably do with a more attractive font or include an image of a newspaper to make it more visually obvious what their ask is.

Mashable’s entry pop-up

This is what you see when you click directly from their Facebook page:

Bear in mind, this pop-up is specifically designed for their Facebook traffic, which I think is a clever strategy. The ask is very simple, Like the Mashable Page on Facebook via a Facebook Like button. The design is clean and the headline reinforces the brand’s tagline. It also shows the popularity of the site as once you’ve liked it you’re able to see your Friends who like the site as well.

Quick Sprout’s entry website popup

A heads up, this one isn’t actually a pop-up, it’s a homepage. I wanted to include it to show you a creative strategy for driving immediate action on a site. This isn’t a mailing list, it’s not asking for an email as you can see. This is Neil Patel’s way of showing that his readers have an opportunity to try out his product for free.

The headline is a simple question with an obvious ‘yes’ answer. The message is clear, offering a solution on how to get more traffic to your site. The form field is quite large and the CTA is the ‘search’ button in a contrasting yellow. What I don’t like here is that it can be a bit direct for those who don’t know the site or Neil Patel.

This year there are lots of new and useful pop-ups available. Thanks to pop-up builders, you can easily create pop-ups for your website with little to no technical know-how, web design, or coding experience. These pop-ups can be embedded in your website, triggered by a click, an image, or a html element. They come with more customization options than ever, like the drag and drop.

Trend 3
Using Gated Content

Have you ever been to the New York Times website to read a news article? If so, you’ve probably seen this wonderful notification:

This is actually gated content. It is the New York Times’ brilliant strategy to sell more of their digital newspaper. They allow readers to access 10 articles for free per month. Once you’ve reached this limit, you’re hit with the above paywall.

You can use this exact same strategy. Your gated content could be courses or guides and your payment is email addresses. When a user subscribes, they’re granted access. You can also gate content like opt-in offers or upgrades. Bear in mind though, if you use this strategy make sure your content is very high value. If your reader is only granted access to a short article with no value, they’ll unsubscribe quickly and are unlikely to revisit your brand.

Trend 4
Personalised Email

With the wealth of data we have at our fingertips these days, we are living in the era of email personalisation. Many businesses are still missing out on the opportunities this abundance of data provides though. How? If you’re still using stock email templates, it could be you. In fact, only 5% of companies are properly personalising their emails. This low figure could be due to the fact many businesses don’t know how to personalise their emails. (60% of marketing professionals recently admitted they find it difficult to personalise their email content in real time. No wonder this simple strategy is being overlooked!)

There are some simple and sophisticated ways available to personalise your emails and increase conversions in the process. I’ll go through them below:

Ask Questions

Simple. Asking simple, straightforward questions to better understand your audience is a great way to show that you’re not a robot and that you want to communicate with your potential customers. Ask them what brought them to your website, or why they’d like to subscribe to your newsletter. By doing so, you gain insightful data you can use later to provide targeted, more effective emails.

Here’s a good example from Paper Style, a wedding specialist website.

Paper Style realised not everyone was visiting their site for the same reason and so adjusted their emailing preferences accordingly. This simple strategy helped to divide their customers and gave the business a better chance for sending more relevant material to potential customers.

By asking, ‘What are you planning for? — your wedding or someone else’s?’ This showed interest from the site and in turn increased both open and click-through rates. This simple question made their emails seem much more personlised and was a great success for the company.

Customer Personas

We’ve just recognised the value of personalisation and how segmenting your customers can help increase your open and CTRs. What if I tell you that you can take it even further? How? Customer personas.

Here’s how it works:

Instead of asking a simple question, like in our previous example, you can group your potential customers together using different attributes and actions. Identify attributes through your audience’s behavior and download history. Then, group each customer into a different persona.

The example below shows you what I mean:

Let’s say your customer is identified as a ‘Ruben’ (refer to image above). We can determine that this customer is going to be more interested in data generation than say, sales leadership. O the most effective emails to direct to this customer would be those about data generation and other related resources. When done right, this customer persona-based marketing will greatly increase your open and click-through rates.

Match Emails With Your Landing Pages

Here’s one more technique for personalising your emails and targeting your customers more efficiently and effectively in the process. Match your emails to your landing page.

The key to this technique is giving your email and your landing page a consistent look and copy. Having the same personalized CTA for your potential customers or using the same theme is a great idea here. It provides a unified experience which is more likely to convert.

Nuffield Health implemented this strategy with impressive results. Their goal was to increase membership subscriptions and at the same time generate more leads. They achieved this by creating multiple custom emails and multiple landing pages for each segment of their customer base. With the same content and basic look, this technique substantially increased their click-through and conversion rates and showed that customers respond well to personalised and targeted campaigns.

Trend 5
A/B Testing

Email campaigns, drip campaigns and newsletters are all great ways to increase email conversions. Like any marketing strategies however, they can be improved. You can achieve this through A/B testing. There are many aspects of your email campaigns that you can test and subsequently improve, I recommend only testing one aspect at a time however so you can more accurately measure your results.

Here are some common aspects perfect for A/B testing:

  • Call to action (“Buy Now!” vs. “Try Now”)
  • Subject line (“Product ABC on Sale” vs. “Discounts on Product ABC”)
  • Body
  • The layout of the message
  • Headline
  • Closing text
  • Your specific offer (example: “Save 50%” vs. “Free shipping”)

You can also test images, email sender’s name or time of day for sending. The possibilities really are endless. Not all of these different aspects are going to have a major impact on your customers, so I recommend testing small portions of your email list for short periods of time and measuring the results. Only your most successful variations should then be used in your email campaigns. Don’t stop there though. For best continued results you have to keep tweaking and testing your emails, outdated copy can have major negative ramifications for your campaigns.

If it’s an ongoing lead nurturing email for example, test monthly or bi-monthly to keep up to date and ensure your email campaigns are yielding maximum results.

Tools For A/B Testing

Most email campaign software these days has inbuilt A/B testing tools, like for example Campaign Monitor, MailChimp and Active Campaign. If you don’t have these tools however, you can still A/B test manually. Split your email list into segments, send different variations of your email and compare the results manually. (Tip: exporting your data to an Excel file can really help with this.) Then analyse your results by looking for significant changes in open rates, click-through rates and conversion rates.

Trend 6
Recap Email

We’ve discussed segmenting your customers, personalising your emails and the usefulness of A/B testing, but what else can you do? Send a recap email. Recap emails are an effective way to keep your email marketing strategy’s momentum alive. They summarise the highlights of your marketing campaign and add value to your brand through appearing organised and methodical. As you get to know your customers better through their wants and needs, you will be able to offer them better solutions, solidifying your role as a trusted brand or advisor. I recommend sending out a sales recap email directly after a promotion has ended. Whether you were offering a limited time offer or a discount, or you’re actually closing a product or service, recap emails can pique the interest of your customers in your next campaign.

In part three of my 2017 email marketing trends series, I’m delving into high-quality content upgrades, videos and more. I’ll also provide more insight into some other trends.

Trend 7
Higher Quality Content Upgrades

Articles, blogs and landing pages aren’t usually designed to convert customers. This type of content is generally used to educate, entertain or inspire. It’s important for brand recognition and sustaining relationships with your customers. With the right content upgrades however, your blog post or landing page could be transformed into a powerful list-building asset. How? Optimisation and high quality content using targeted free resources.

A content upgrade is a lead magnet that you give to your customers in exchange for their email addresses. Typical lead magnets include ebooks and courses, podcasts, videos or webinars. These resources can stand alone but if you tie them to your content, like say a blog post, they increase the quality of your content and give your customers a reason to sign up to your emailing list. Your aim is to add value to your content using these additional resources, offering your customers something worthwhile. For example, create a resource designed to help your readers accomplish what you have discussed in your article or what you advertise on your landing page. Resources like action sheets, cheat sheets, workbooks or toolkits are good examples. Giving these to your readers in exchange for their email addresses encourages them to delve deeper into your content and solidifies their confidence in your brand, encouraging them to become customers.

Bear in mind you need high-quality content upgrades, something with value. If your readers sign up and in exchange you offer them something worthless, they are likely to unsubscribe and not return to your product or service.

Here is a good example of a high-quality content upgrade which readers are happy to sign up for:

CoSchedule posted an article about repurposing an article: https://coschedule.com/blog/repurpose-content/

Their high-quality content upgrade here is the repurposing guide itself and infographic:

Having read the article, readers are then interested in implementing this repurposing technique for themselves and are therefore happy to sign up.

Trend 8
Mobile Friendly Emails

Every time you send an email, there’s a huge chance that your subscribers are going to read it on their mobile phones or tablets. According to Litmus, 51% of users read emails on mobile devices, while it’s 66% according to Movable Ink. Whichever of these statistics you choose to believe, the importance of mobile-friendly emails is clear.

Think of your emails the same way you (should!) think of your website: it needs to be responsive and display your content properly no matter what device it’s viewed on. Your emails are the same, they need to be appealing and mobile-friendly, readable and actionable. As easy to read on a mobile phone as they are on a laptop or desktop.

Here are some tips to ensure your emails are mobile-friendly:

Use short subject lines

Many email carriers won’t display an entire subject line. Since this serves as your introduction and headline, you don’t want to miss an opportunity by having your subject line cut short and therefore losing the interest of your reader. Your best bet is to keep your subject line short, around 35–40 characters. Use the most important, enticing or exciting phrase of your copy to make sure your readers take notice and open your email.

Use a single-column template

On a mobile-device, templates with multiple columns can be confusing to read and difficult to navigate. If a reader is struggling to understand your email, they’re likely to simply delete it and move on. A single column template is clean and straightforward and can be viewed with most email carriers, giving you the best chance that your audience will read your email.

Keep your emails under 600 pixels wide

To make sure that your audience won’t have problems reading your emails, keep your email width under 600 pixels. Do this by setting the width attribute of your template to 600 pixels, or if you’re familiar with HTML/CSS, you can use the CSS width property to make this adjustment.

Use a large font size

Using a font size of 13 or 14 ensures your emails are easily readable on mobile devices. Don’t go overboard though, too large a font and not enough words will be visible at a time making your emails look amateurish.

Use small images

Don’t attach large images to your emails. These can significantly reduce load times increasing the likelihood that your reader will simply grow impatient and move on. Large images can also consume bandwidth which mobile users might find unappealing.

Include a strong call to action

A strong, compelling call to action should be large enough for your audience to easily read, at least 40 pixels square.

Say NO to menu bars

Remember this is an email, not a website. It’s not necessary to add a traditional menu or navigation bar.

Test before sending

You can use a paid service like Litmus to run comprehensive tests on the most popular email carriers. They even have a free trial period to get you started.

Trend 9 
Don’t Just Rely on your Website to 
Build your Email List (be original)

You simply can’t just rely on your website to grow your email list. Optimising your website and including sign-up pages is a great start, however you need to reach bigger audiences. Here are some of my tips to help you achieve this:

Use traditional marketing methods

Send direct emails to potential customers, try telemarketing to grow your email listor send a voucher in the post where readers need to visit your site to redeem their offers. These strategies may seem old fashioned, but these days they’re less expected and that may just work out in your favour. Bear in mind though that these techniques do come with a cost.

Use social media

Social media is an amazing platform. The average person these days uses 5 different social media sites. Ensure that you’re active on social media, keep up-to-date with the latest trends in your industry, promote new products or offers only available through your social media channels with an emphasis on having your audience subscribe.

Use blogs and forums

Being active on blogs and forums is a good way to build or grow your email lists. You can leave a comment with your website link on a blog that’s relevant to your niche or industry. This strategy is designed to drive traffic to your website, where readers can then subscribe to your email list.

Encourage forwards

If you have an existing email list of customers, encourage them to spread the word and forward your content. You can provide them with freebies for sharing.

That’s it for the top Email Marketing Trends of 2017. Let’s conquer email marketing this year, let’s seize the opportunities and welcome the challenges. Take risks, be curious and be resilient!

Final Thoughts

There are many other email marketing techniques that you can consider this year. It’s not true that email marketing is dying due to social media, email still provides one of the highest ROI’s available.

I hope that these tips have given you some ideas that you can add to your email marketing strategy. There are still other trends and growth opportunities in this field but I think these three are a great place to start. If you want to learn more, join my free mini Course at https://learn.e2.agency/free-masterclass-optin

Article writing by Jason K Williamson www.e2.agency.com

Published by the Warrior Forum on October 2017 
 www.warriorforum.com

Jason K Williamson

Recognised worldwide as a leader in eCommerce email marketing, Jason founded and runs E2 Agency.

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